Limiting your Colour Palette by Jo Garlick

Limiting your Colour Palette by Jo Garlick
25th June 2019 Helen Bullock
In Unison News

June isn’t the most obvious month for thinking about winter scenes – but for me it is when I start to plan out my Christmas card designs (I know – too early!).  The main focus of my work is wildlife and for some reason I have always struggled to get inspired by landscapes.  If you are the same, then this exercise can be a good place to start.  Choosing a winter scene limits your colour palette and creates strong contrasts. For this image, I used a palette of mainly blues and purples and then yellows at the end to add contrasting highlights.  No black or white was used in producing this picture!

I began by mapping out my composition with a range of midtones in purples and blues, then adding lighter hues to create definition.  I then focused on the distant hills and the sky, muting the colours slightly but keeping it cool and crisp.  I chose pastels such as A32, A33, A34, A51, A55, Grey 8, Grey 9, Grey 10, BG5, BV10, BV8 throughout.

I then started to put in the really dark tones.  For these the Unison darks are brilliant such as Dark 19, Dark 20 and A49.  A snow scene can create really strong contrast and I accentuated this further with the darks colours as I feel it creates a more striking result.

When working on a picture I don’t focus on one ‘section’ at a time.  I try to work on the picture as a whole which creates a stronger sense of unity.  I keep going back to areas to add highlights, texture and detail (whatever it needs).  I usually leave the contrasting highlights until the end as these are the points that can really lift and finish the picture.  For those I used colours such as A7, Light 3 and A31.  I also used a small amount of Orange 6 which really lifted certain areas.

Limiting my colour palette was oddly liberating and therapeutic.  It was easier to regain focus on tone and composition and I would recommend it to anyone.  If snow scenes aren’t your thing then a sunset or a scene at dusk (below) can also work really well as a starting point.


Jo Garlick