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A Simple Approach by Anne Barnham

My way of teaching is to provide ‘building blocks, techniques and tools’ that help to make the process easier!! A simple approach makes things so much more interesting so here are my ideas about using a fairly limited palette.

The first painting that I want to show you is of a cottage in Grasmere. For this I only used 8 colours, that seems a lot but some were only touched on. These are all excellent SAA paints, 3 warm primaries, Ultramarine, Scarlet Lake and Indian Yellow; 3 cool primaries, Cerulean Blue, Rose Madder and Aureolin together with Burnt Sienna and a little Burnt Umber.

Above Grasmere

You can see the vast range of colours and tones that can be achieved from this fairly limited palette. It gives great harmony and atmosphere throughout the painting. This means that you can have impact, the darks/lights, and the continuity of the palette.

Even the ‘darks’ are what I call ‘living darks’ - they show colour even though they are a very strong tone. These are made by using a mixture of cool and warm colours and including at least one opaque colour. This way you can vary the colour bias of your dark according to where it is in the painting. After all, if you look into a dark area in reality you can still see different colours and tones in it.

The softness of the mountain colour is made by using wet into wet and ‘wafting!’ in other colours and letting them do their own thing! (I do have some wonderful technical terms!)

The second painting is also a limited palette, but a little more adventurous!. I squeezed out on to a paper plate, in no particular order, 7 of the colours that I had recently ordered from the SAA. They looked quite interesting so I thought I would just use them and see what happened! They are the 3 Potters colours, Pink, Green and Blue, Lemon Yellow, Caput Mortem, Sandstone, Naples Yellow Hue and also a little touch of Translucent Grey.

Misty Morning near Flatford

The wonderful gentleness of the Potters colours really dictated that I would paint a misty morning on the River Stour near Flatford Mill.

I had great fun finding out what this random selection of colours would produce. It just shows that it is very possible to make a harmonious painting by just having a few colours available, also it stops any worrying about having the ‘right’ colour. Have a spare piece of your art paper handy for trying different mixes, play a little and just go with the flow!

I hope you can see the sheep hiding in the mist? Just a touch of thin Sandstone with a little Caput Mortem!

Please have a look at my SAA webpage, there are details of my courses in Lincolnshire, Painting Holidays and Exhibitions.