Oil painting of wine glass and grapes by Rita Romero.This last week I had the urge to paint but couldn’t get time until the weekend. I decided to set up a still life and do a quick study for myself. This wasn’t meant to be a finished work of fine art, but rather an exercise to experiment with color mixing and painting a still life. I had not done a still life in over 20 years. What’s nice about a still life is that there are no model fees involved, you can make it “work” as long as you need to, and there are no bathroom breaks (except for the artist). So it is easier to focus on the subject and the painting process.

In this exercise, I set out to use only three colors – Ivory black, Flake white and Cadmium red. This is a slight variation of the old masters’ limited palette. They used to create fantastic skin colors and whole paintings with just Lead white, black, English red, and yellow ochre.

I plan to do a series of paintings exploring the graphic design possibilities of using just the three colors to make a complete painting. It has been said that a “complete” painting must have each of the primary colors in some form. But I think there are possibilities of creating complete images with just those three colors. This would not work with using black, white and blue or yellow. It only works with reds because the color mixtures are more harmonious and suggestive of other colors. Ivory black has a bit of blue in it, and the Cadmium red leans toward the orange. So, you can have a suggestion of all primary colors. So, stay tuned for updates on this series.