Remember a few weeks ago, when we talked about what to pack? And I mentioned paint? Today I’ll show you how to get away with packing only four tubes of paint– which saves lots of space and hassle.
A quick disclaimer: These are the four tubes I’d pack when I’m painting here in the Pacific Northwest, which lends itself to softer grays and lots of green. If you’re in a desert, or the tropics, you might choose different colors, but I still think you can get away with only four tubes. Try it and let me know your results.
These are the four I’d use. I know what you’re thinking–you’re worried that I’m missing a dark color . How am I going to get nice deep shadows? Or what about tree trunks? There’s no brown. Or gray for clouds or a road? And am I really going to get enough variety in my greens with only those four colors?
You’re skeptical, I know it. I was when I first learned this, too. What if I show you this?
This is my palette after about 20 minutes of work. I got all of this with just those four colors. Here’s a better photo– and I’ve left it large enough that you can click through to refer to it as needed.
On the far left are my original four colors– straight up. Then the second row are various mixtures of two of each of those colors. For example, I started with Lemon Yellow, and I mixed it with Ultramarine Blue to get a dark green. Then I took a little of that mixture and added more yellow to get a lighter green. Then I repeated that process to get an ever lighter green.
Next, I mixed Burnt Sienna and Lemon Yellow for a nice rust color, then I added a little more yellow, and then a little more until I had a pale orangey color. I repeated this process, mixing each color with one of the other three. So it goes like this:
Lemon Yellow + Burnt Sienna
Lemon Yellow + Ultramarine Blue
Lemon Yellow + Titanium White
Burnt Sienna + Titanium White
Ultramarine Blue + Titanium White
Burnt Sienna + Ultramarine Blue
Ultramarine Blue + Burnt Sienna
Wait, what? I just mixed those last two twice. Yes, exactly. The first mixture has a smidge (a very scientific measurement) more Burnt Sienna, where the second mixture has a smidge more Ultramarine Blue. One turns in to this lovely brown, where one is a nice dark neutral for shadows– or when I add white, it’s a perfect gray sky. See?
So from these four tubes of paint, I’ve got 37 different lovely shades for my next painting. Still skeptical? I’ve tucked this palette in to the freezer, and I’ll paint my next four paintings using only these colors. That way you can see the results as well.