Palette Building Evolution: Secondary Color Grid

When last we left my palette building saga, I was happily filling in Jane Blundell-inspired color grids, where paints are arranged in the palette in a grid of five color family columns (yellow, red, blue, green, and neutral), and four thematic rows (warm, cool, earth, and dark).

However, over time, I’ve found two problems with this arrangement. 

The first issue is practical: a four-row grid doesn’t fit nicely in my Art Toolkit Folio Palette, even though it holds 30 quarter-pans of paint (ten more colors than the four-by-five grid requires). The most friendly way to arrange pans in the palette is in three rows of ten. I tried flipping the pans on their sides and opening the palette book-style, making a six-by-five arrangement, but I found it awkward and harder to move things around. 

The second issue is philosophical: I don’t believe in warm and cool color dichotomy anymore – or that the primaries are yellow, red, and blue. It started seeming more and more contrived to arrange my colors that way when I’m more and more convinced that the center does not hold. I’m more drawn to a Bruce MacEvoy-style secondary color palette: instead of two of each primary, one “warm” and one “cool”, just have six colors spread roughly evenly around the color wheel. 

In a flash of insight I realized that the answer to both problems was the same. Take the top two rows of my grid. Instead of a “warm” and “cool” row of five colors each, I could simply interpolate them and end up with one row of ten colors. 

Instead of something like this:

WarmNew GambogePerylene RedUltramarine BlueRich Green GoldTransparent Red Oxide
CoolLemon YellowQuinacridone RosePhthalo Blue Green ShadePhthalo Green Blue ShadeNeutral Tint

I would have something like this:

Lemon YellowNew GambogePerylene RedQuin RosePerylene VioletUltramarine BluePhthalo Blue GSPhthalo Green BSRich Green GoldNeutral Tint

Note that these two systems, while mostly allowing for the same paints, do encourage slightly different choices. I had a natural space for a violet in my rainbow there, so I slotted in Perylene Violet, which wasn’t part of the first system. Meanwhile, I had a “warm neutral” slot in the first system, so I put in Transparent Red Oxide, but I didn’t have anything like that in the second system… yet. 

See, in the second system, I can still add the Earth and Dark columns, as I did before, to fill out my perfect ten-by-three grid. Each category will now have ten slots instead of five, so I can go nuts adding earth and dark colors!

Here’s my final ten-by-three grid. After futzing with it, I adapted the ‘Violet’ row to ‘Violet Blue’ and moved some stuff around. 

ThemeYellowYellow-OrangeRed-OrangeMagentaViolet BlueBlueCyanBlue-GreenYellow-GreenNeutral
BoldLemon YellowIso Yellow DeepQuin CoralQuin RosePerylene VioletPhthalo Blue RSPhthalo Blue GSPhthalo Green BSRich Green Gold
EarthMonte AmiataQuin GoldTransparent Red OxidePotter’s PinkUltramarineCobaltCeruleanViridianSerpentineTransparent Brown Oxide
DarkVan Dyke BrownTransparent Pyrrol OrangePerylene MaroonBordeauxIndanthrone BlueSodalite Prussian BluePerylene GreenGreen ApatiteNeutral Tint

The really funny thing is that even with 30 colors, I realize I already have (or have an idea for) an “understudy” for nearly every one, and can arrange my B-team in much the same way. (Though I’ve already used up the obvious blues.) 

ThemeYellowYellow-OrangeRed-OrangeMagentaVioletViolet BlueCyanBlue-GreenYellow-GreenNeutral
BoldPure YellowNew GambogePerylene RedPurple MagentaQuin PurpleMarine BluePhthalo Green YSBuff Titanium
EarthYellow OchreNickel Azo YellowQuin Burnt OrangeOpera RoseUltramarine VioletCobalt Blue DeepCobalt TurquoiseCobalt GreenTerre VerteLunar Black
DarkGoethiteBurnt SiennaQuin Burnt ScarletAlizarin Crimson QCarbazole VioletIndigoCobalt Turquoise eepJadeiteAustralian Leaf GreenPayne’s Gray

Just one of these thirty-color palettes (let alone two) feels like too much, so hopefully during my class with Liz Steel, I can really get to know a subset of them and learn to pare it down.