Why I use the colours I use
My palette has undergone many changes and is always an ongoing experiment. With time I have established some principles for choosing the colours I wish to use for any single painting.
As painters know the combinations are endless and I think each artist should have a minimum knowledge about pigments. However the most important question I ask myself in selecting a palette is what each colour can do for me, for my way of painting.
So firstly, what is “my way of painting” ?
I work in flat brushstrokes and in several layers applied wet over dry. I don’t do glazes, only some times I scumble over small areas. Some of my paintings have subdued, earthy colours, others are more saturated. I pay attention to colour temperature and to how chromatic (saturated) a mixture is. The surface in my paintings has texture, some areas of paint are thin and some are thick.
My palette technically allows me to achieve these characteristics for my work. I use high quality paints, and because of availability, all of my paints are either Winsor and Newton or Michael Harding, since they are both stocked in my local shop in London as well as in Italy and Spain. I paint abroad sometimes and I don’t want to develop an addiction to a colour I cannot easily get hold of.
I have been using both flake and titanium white, but I now tend to prefer the latter, particularly in mixture with zinc. Flake has luscious thickness and I think it is also a very good white for painters with less experience.
One of the most common mistakes of the beginner painter is to overuse white in mixtures. Because flake white has less tinting power than titanium, you would need to add quite a large amount of paint before the mixtures might go “chalky”.
As I learned better how to control the white on my palette, I switched to MH Titanium Zinc. The main reason is because flake white is toxic and being an absent-minded cook, I tend to have cuts on my fingers which should not be in contact with lead.
I now use Michael Harding’s Titanium White No. 3 ( with dryers) in the winter and Michael Harding’s Titanium White No. 2 in warmer months.