Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Carder Method Palette





I'm not normally a fan of limited palettes. They're useful for pedagogical purposes, and for creating sketches and underpaintings, but I've never cared for their use in finished work; my own full palette has about 70 paints.

As a rule I find it too difficult to get a decent saturation across the spectrum with a small palette; the results often seem to be a series of chromatic grays. The values may be correct, but the chromas are often too low. It yields a certain type of work, and although I have seen beautiful results in the hands of skilled painters, I usually find it lacking something.

A friend recently suggested that I look at the palette advocated by Mark Carder (http://www.markcarder.com/) as part of his method. It consists of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Burnt Umber, Permanent Alizarin, and Ultramarine Blue.

I decided to try it on a few small pieces, and I was surprised its usability and flexibility, and was pleased by the results; the image is both the palette and one of the small pieces I painted with it.

I found it pretty easy to move around the temperatures that I wanted, and could create saturated versions of most of the colors I wanted. The exception seemed to be a good strong higher value red. The addition of a Cadmium Red to the palette would fix that.

Though I'm certainly not going to replace my full palette with this minimal subset, I do see it's use for some of my smaller works, and also plan on using it for a few of my first-pass underpaintings. I'll do another post when I do that.



5 comments:

Gwen Sylvester said...

A good reminder of a simple combination. The colors sounds familiar. I think that Salvador Dali also wrote about using a very similar palette. Thanks for posting

Karla said...

I have been using this palette for several months. Really like what I am achieving with it. I did find that Rebrant white works best for the white. Other whites tinted the light value colors too much.

John de la Vega said...

The problem with limited palettes (yes, they are good for teaching basics, I use them in my workshops)is very simple: unless you're doing a simple painting, practically an abstraction with bold color, for anything realistic YOU NEED TO DO A LOT OF MIXING! Mixing is distracting and time-consuming. Your focus ought to be on the painting (better yet, on the subject, whether live or photo)not on the frickin' palette! A limited palette has other disadvantages, among them: once you've mastered basic mixing, such as blue and yellow make green, etc, the limited palette gives you:

POORER COLOR

SLOWER LEARNING IN USING DIFFERENT HUES/PIGMENTS

SLOWER LEARNING AND USE OF NUANCES, SHIFTS, AND MODIFICATION, FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENTS IN PAINTING REALISTIC PORTRAITS AND FIGURES, BUT OF COURSE NEEDED IN ALL PAINTING

John Cox said...

Jeffrey, you are correct. The Carder limited palette is a good one with a lot more versatility than would would think at first glance. I have tried it and used it successfully several times and seen some excellent works done with it.

My problem is, one size does not fit all. I paint landscapes primarily and it works well in most cases, but when I get to doing figures in different lighting conditions, I find it is to limited. I usually substitute the Alizarin for Cad Red Light or add the Cad Red Light in some cases. I will use Transparent Oxide Red instead of Burnt Umber at times or Cobalt Blue for Ultramarine Blue.. I have also added Veridian at times, for more variety of greens and grays in some cases. I normally work with a fairly limited palette,a habit from plein air work, but not quite as limited as the Carder. I often remind people that Zorn painted with a very limited palette as well and one color was black.

Anonymous said...

how would replacing yellow ochre for cad yellow affect this palette? just curious.