The Learning Curve

day230 in 30, Day 2

I should have known that attempting something new meant learning a lot, and that in itself takes time. But time well spent. Since I decided to do the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge using oils instead of my trusty, dusty pastels, I find myself almost starting at  ground zero. First I had to decide what colors would comprise my palette. I initially thought a basic red, yellow blue and white palette would be the simplest. After doing some reading however I selected 7 colors and titanium white so I could produce the 12 spectrum colors on the color wheel.


  • spectrum red can be made by mixing cad red light and alizarin crimson
  • red orange is really cad red light
  • orange is cad orange
  • yellow orange can be made by mixing cad orange with cad yellow pale
  • spectrum yellow is mostly cad yellow pale with just a hint of cad orange
  • yellow green is created with cad yellow pale and thalo blue,
  • spectrum green is made from thalo green with LOTS of cad yellow pale
  • blue green is thalo blue and thalo green with white
  • spectrum blue is thalo blue and ultramarine blue
  • blue violet is mostly ultramarine with a touch of alizarin and white
  • violet is ultramarine, alizarin crimson and white
  • red-violet is just alizarin crimson out of the tube

This palette comes from lots of reading. One of my favorite books on seeing color is by Arthur Stern, “How to See Color and Paint It.” I think it is out of print, but if you can get your hands on a copy it is priceless. Another is Susan Sarback’s “Capturing Radiant Light & Color in Oils and Soft Pastels.”

In the meantime I have ordered some palette knives, so hopefully my quest to use these things will get easier.



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3 Responses to “The Learning Curve”

  1. Stephanie Benedict Says:

    Marianne, since you’re a pastelist, let say: watch out for using thalo blue or green in oils. They’re VERY strong and therefore probably unsuited to Sarback’s palette knife technique. I recommend using Ultramarine Blue for a reddish-blue, and Prussian (also quite strong) or cerulean for a greenish-blue. I often only use Ultramarine (not French Ultramarine, which is more red).

    • Marianne Post Says:

      Stephanie, I have noticed that I don’t use the thalo blue and green much. They are INTENSE! Thanks for the suggestions, I will look through my stash of oil tubes and see what I have. I have been having fun “mixing” color instead of reaching for just the right pastel stick.

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