Sunday, May 4, 2008

Three-Color Oil Palette, II

In response to my last post, someone pointed out that this three-color palette is very similar to the warm palette used by Anders Zorn. I'm familiar with Zorn, but not with his palette. The commentor noted that Zorn used Yellow Ochre, Vermilion, and black and white.

I did a little research, and came up with the following in an American Artist article:

Many artists mention the concept of the "Zorn palette," especially in regard to portraiture. This warm palette, which is often said to include simply a yellow, black, red, and a white—but no blue—may be a very useful tool, but it is a mistake to attribute it to Anders Zorn. A few portraits and other paintings by Zorn seem to show a definite warmth and a lack of tube blues and greens—and Sandström confirms that the painter was proud of saying he mixed all of the hues on a canvas from just a handful of colors—but many Zorn paintings utilize blues. In fact, in Sweden Zorn is celebrated for his depictions of water, which required blue paint. Sandström had difficulty even comprehending the assumption that Zorn worked with the specialized palette associated with him. She reports that 17 tubes of cobalt alone are represented among the 243 tubes of paint left by Zorn in his studio in Mora. Laine, of Stockholm's Nationalmuseum, concurs that the notion of a Zorn palette is a bit of a misnomer. Still, portraits such as Miss Constance Morris show that he was adept at using grays to suggest blues. Many of Zorn's portraits—and his nudes—exhibit a compelling warmth, providing inspiration for today's painters regardless of what the Swedish artist may have actually squeezed onto his palette.


At any rate, I am not using blue, but I am, as Zorn may have done, trying to push the "blueness" of the Ivory Black with orange. Last night I decided to see just how far I could go. The evening light was perfect -- it had lots of orange in it so I could test the idea.

Here's the result. I love working with this palette!

"Sunset with Low Clouds"
5x7, oil, en plein air


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