oil painting palette of portrait artist Rita RomeroFor those of you who are interested in oil painting, I thought I would share the colors and layout of my basic palette (pronounced pah-lette – accent on first syllable).  It is based on the Daniel Greene palette, with my own modifications. My basic colors are listed below (not all shown in photo).

Across the top – White, Naples yellow, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, vermillion or cadmium red, alizarin crimson permanent, raw sienna, burnt sienna, burnt umber, raw umber,
Down the left side – Thalo violet, sap green or viridian, chromium oxide, ultramarine or Prussian blue, ivory black. I would recommend getting Winsor & Newton paints, but Grumbacher may be more affordable if necessary. For best results, do not use student grade or cheap paints.

As you can see, I premix my paints into sets of 3-4 values of each color mixture. Note: the mixtures in the photo are mostly mid-range values. I do not mix or use the lightest and darkest values until the last stages of a painting.

Although it is time consuming to premix all of these colors at the start of each painting session, it saves time when you are painting, rather than constantly stopping to mix colors. Always leave room between the columns of values to allow for cross-mixing as needed. It also guarantees the consistency in the values and colors used throughout a painting. You can use this same palette regardless of whether you paint with a direct or indirect method.  This palette is very versatile and I use the same basic palette colors for everything I paint, with some additional mixtures for landscapes.

I use a glass palette that I made from a 16 x 20 piece of glass from an old frame. I put a sheet of mid-tone gray paper under it, with a cardboard backing. Then I taped the sides all together. The use of the mid-tone paper allows me to see the true tone of colors, and better able to judge the values that I mix. Plus the clean up is really easy.  Of course, a mid-tone wooden palette is the classic choice, as long as you season it and maintain it properly. It is not a good practice to use a white plastic palette, as it is difficult to judge your colors properly.