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Monday, 30 November 2015

Spotlight: The Palette Project Redux

The Palette Project is back! The idea was to run a quick survey of LAS members’ palettes so we could see what our trends in paints are by putting forward our eight most indispensible colours, and comparing these with similar surveys done of selected master painters and readers of the art blog Gurney Journey. the results are in and have been compiled.

Please note - this was originally going to be a comparison of the top 8 for each poll, but that didn’t work as some colours were tied and this resulted in some polls having 8 colours while others had more. To allow for direct comparison, it had to be either contracted to 4 or extended to 13; obviously, the extension was made to 13.

Below you can see a chart of the top 13 results for each poll (please note - the colour boxes shown are only approximates given how colours vary across monitors and between paint manufacturers).

Click to enlarge!

Let’s break this down, starting with some comparisons across the board:

Ultramarine topped all but Masters’ results (it should be noted that some of these artists were working when this paint was hard to acquire - our modern paint is synthetic, but it wasn’t always so; details of the process to create it were published in the early 19th C).

Several colours made it onto all four sets of results: Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine, Raw Sienna and Cobalt Blue.

Cerulean Blue was in all but the Masters’ results (worth noting - this wasn’t introduced until the 1860s).

Raw Umber and Viridian were in all the results except Gurney 2.

Burnt Umber was in all except the LAS results.

Cadmiums Red and Yellow were in all lists except the Masters’. Cadmium Yellow only went into production around 1840, and Cadmium Red was available from around 1920. Vermilion, however, was only on the Masters’ list - a popular choice, but it ceased becoming widely available in the very early 20th century.

Greens didn’t do so well since they can be so easily mixed, but a green occupies spot #13 on all results - Sap Green for Gurney 2, and Viridian for the others.

It’s worth noting that Black (type unspecified here) tops the Masters and ranks 8 in Gurney 1, but doesn’t appear in the others - it is known as quite polarising, with strong opinions present on whether or not it should be used. Generally, the more neutral a palette is, the more obviously useful Black becomes (although it may well have been my #9 choice had I been allowed another).

If we make a composite of composites, and include all the paints that appeared on at least three of the results listed in the graphic above, we end up with this palette (Alizarin to Yellow Ochre appear on all, Raw Umber to Viridian appear on three):

Click to enlarge

Eminently serviceable, with room to pare it down. Across a range of years and approaches, these quite common colours form the core of most paintings created.


Now, let’s take a closer look at the LAS results. What made it into our list, but into none of the others? Just Prussian Blue, a colour that is largely considered to have been superseded by Phthalo Blue (but worth noting that no Phthalo colour made any of the lists).

It’s worth taking a moment to read a couple of articles on the subject: Cobalt and Some Other Blues, from Stapleton Kearns, and The Accidental Colour that Changed the Course of Art, by John Griswold.

Perhaps it’s a surprise that Burnt Umber scored low enough to not make it onto our list? It scored as many votes as did Magenta, and even Cobalt Violet. Following on from Burnt Umber, broadly speaking we do prefer more chromatic palettes over tonal ones - this, though, isn't really a surprise given the beautiful scenery we are surrounded by every day.

There was no single colour that every LAS artist chose (if you'd have guessed it would have been Ultramarine you'd have been close, as it was the single-highest scoring colour; 75% of us use it). However, certain kinds of colours were more popular than single choices would suggest - 91.67% of respondents included a bright yellow of some variety. 41.5% of respondents chose Cadmium Yellow but Hansa Yellow, Winsor Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Pale and Cadmium Lemon also received votes. Only one artist included two bright yellows - a warm and a cool (in fact, this was the only artist whose palette was set up as a split-primary; that is, a warm and a cool for red, blue and yellow, and then finished with a couple of earths).

Warm, bright reds scored higher than just the presence of Cadmium Red would suggest. While 33% of us chose Cadmium Red, Cadmium Scarlet (also called Cadmium Red Light in some brands) saw 16.7% of us select it (and yet, this shows that only half of us consider a bright, warm red to be an essential colour to have).

Also scoring interestingly were Raw Sienna and Yellow Ochre - only one artist had neither, and only one artist had both. Every other respondent had one or the other.

Which of the other poll results are we closest to?
On the Masters' poll we find 69.23% of our choices - missing Prussian Blue, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Cerulean Blue, while they have Black, Vermilion, Venetian Red and Burnt Umber.
On Gurney 1 we find 84.62% of our choices there - missing Prussian Blue and Naples Yellow, while they have Burnt Umber and Black.
On Gurney 2 (the watercolour poll) we find 69.23% of our colour choices present - missing Raw Umber, Prussian Blue, Naples Yellow and Viridian while they have Burnt Umber, Lemon Yellow, Payne's Grey and Sap Green.

Though compared with the Gurney blog readers’ polls our sample size is small, we show distinct preferences. In fact, our top seven colours make quite a perfectly serviceable palette! Indeed, a surprising variety in colour-mixing can be found in the top four.

Swapping colours is always interesting. If you use Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna, why not swap it for the other? If you use one particular bright yellow, why not use another next time? How about replacing Cadmium Red with Cadmium Scarlet - does that change your approach at all? If you replace one Umber with another, or change your green, how does it affect the way you think about your mixing? Does it make things easier, harder, or just different?

So, there we have it - our current palette habits, laid out plainly. Thank you to everybody who took part, and hopefully this has been interesting comparing our specific group of artists with those elsewhere, and also with those who have come before us.


If you know of any great art websites or articles, why not share them here? Send your suggestions to - please note that this isn't for self-promotion.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Westhope Christmas Craft Fair

Apologies that this is a little late, as it began yesterday (I only spotted it just now!), but it's also on today.

The Craft College is at Westhope Craft College, Craven Arms , Shropshire SY7 9JL

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Greenacres Xmas Gift Fair

At Greenacres, at the end of November, there's a two-day gift fair being run by LAS member Ann Wallace (you may recall that, back on 30th September, we posted a call-out for artists interested in selling work here). There will be work from 12 UK-based artists, including Ann and LAS member Elizabeth Moss. If you're in the region, why not go take a look?

You can find all the details on the poster below:
Click to enlarge!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Light - Private View and Exhibition

The Light is an exhibition of the works of 59 artists, including LAS President Charles MacCarthy, and it's taking place from 6.30pm to 9pm on 27th November at Kingsland Church HR6 9QW.

The exhibition itself is held from 28th November to 13th December, 10am to 4pm daily, and all the details are on the poster below:
Click to enlarge!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Ludlow Open Artist Development December Workshops

Ludlow Open Artist Development has three workshops lined up for December, all taking place in Yarpole, Leominster and each one costing only £10. The workshops are subsidised by funding from Arts Council England. The events are organised and run by Jo King, who you may recall opened our 2014 Summer Exhibition.

The LOAD topics are: 1) Understanding the Art Market; 2) Funding and Public Art Commissioning; and 3) Marketing for Free

You can find all the details and contact information on the form below:
Click to enlarge!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Cleobury Mortimer Festival of Art

On the 28th and 29th of November, the Cleobury Mortimer Festival of Art is running - and it's looking for art entries! You can enter up to 8 pieces of work at £1 per piece, and there's 20% commission taken.

You can find all the details, along with the entry form and all contact details, in the Festival's document right HERE.

Don't miss out!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Perceptual Property at the Chang Thai Bar

There's a new art exhibition opening today at the Chang Thai Bar - all the details are on the flyer:

Click to enlarge!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

6th November 2015 - Paul Weaver’s watercolour workshop at Little Hereford Village Hall.

After a stunning demo at the Ludlow Art Society’s evening meeting 5th November, eight participants met to take part in Paul’s watercolour workshop.  LAS member Margaret Booker had recommended Paul for both events and what an excellent suggestion it was.  At £25.00 for the day we more than got our moneys worth!

Paul started us off with technical tips on applying watercolour to obtain different effects and to give a variety of marks to suggest three dimensional objects.  He provided a selection of photographs of figures, and we concentrated on painting these quickly, applying paint in these various ways whilst getting a sense of shape, mass and movement in the figures.  

Then it was buildings in street scenes; he started with tips on cropping our own photos to obtain the best composition and then roughly sketching them out, onto rough paper, and including tone to check that the composition would work effectively.  Next he thoroughly demonstrated painting both sunny and rainy scenes, including suggestions for colour mixes for various parts of buildings and also to give a sense of distance.  

The rest of the day was spent by us drawing out our own compositions and then painting them whilst Paul continually helped, assisted and suggested ways of improving our work.  It was certainly one of the most informative and useful workshops I have attended and I believe all attending were of the same opinion.  Paul strongly believes in teaching his students how to solve the problems themselves, rather than just giving them something to “fill in”.  

Few of us managed to finish our work but here are a few photos I took during the day showing some of Paul’s demos, completed in record time, and some of our attempts.

Pauls Demo

Some student's efforts

Pauls demo of a street scene

the student's effort


More student's efforts

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Pictures from Paul Weaver's Demo

Paul Weaver's demo rounded off our year of monthly meetings in quite some style - he brought with him a wide selection of his paintings, and he talked us through his speedy process. In the two hours he was there, Paul had created a tonal sketch, a finished watercolour painting, and then a rougher rainy-day watercolour piece

Here are some pictures from the evening (2 and 4 courtesy of Anne Fox):

Well... that's nearly it! We've a report coming in from Paul's demo (courtesy of Jean Simnett), but our programme for the year is now complete. As always, this blog will keep you up to date on the artistic goings-on in and around the town (and there are still a couple of things in the pipeline fron the LAS), Spotlight will carry on every month, and the monthly round-ups will continue.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 4th February, when we have the fantastic Matt Smart giving us a talk on his approaches to sculpture. See you then!

2016 Programme

Our programme for 2016 is now online! You should be receiving a copy in the post very soon, along with our newsletter, but for now you take a look at what we have planned either below, or on the Programme page (button on the right):

A massive thank you to Lesley Connolly for putting all this together!

Castle Artists' 2015 Xmas Exhibition

Thanks to Drusilla Cole for sending over the details of the Castle Artists' 2015 Xmas Exhibition:

Castle Artists Xmas 2015 Exhibition
Sat & Sun 12 & 13th December 2015 - from 10.30am to 5.00 each day
at the Public Hall, Station Street , Bishops Castle SY9 5AQ

Linocuts, watercolours, photographs, textiles , cards etc. all at affordable prices.
Free entry and parking. Full disabled access. Refreshments available


Monday, 2 November 2015

Sunny Side Art at Wem Town Hall

Sunny Side Art, a collaborative venture from Shrewsbury creatives Linda Edwards and Nigel Elliot, has an exhibition of work on at Wem Town Hall - the show is running from 6th November - 21st December.
You can find SSA's website here: