Less is more

Since I began to paint consistently, on an almost daily basis, I decided to study the Old Masters from a technical point of view, and besides the grisaille technique (see this previous article) I was attracted by the use of a particular palette which seemed to be extremely useful to mix fleshtones and create harmonious portraits.

A Swedish painter, Anders Zorn, introduced an essential but innovative limited palette that is nowadays known as Zorn palette.

It consists of just 4 colors being yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion and titanium white. Cadmium red light is commonly used in place of vermilion by modern day artists.

Whilst this may seem like an extremely limited range of colors, Zorn demonstrated through his paintings just what is possible with such a limited palette.

Here is a self-portrait of Zorn with his palette.

Anders Zorn, Self Portrait With Model, 1896

I embraced the challenge to try this limited palette and explore all the possible combinations of colours.

I find definitely boring doing color swatches but in this case it was essential, since it was the only way to understand how these 4 colours create an unbelievable large number of tones, and especially skin tones. I prefer muted tints and shades, and I usually avoid too saturated colours. The Zorn palette offers a wide gamut of ‘pinks’, warm, cold, greyish, brownish.

My experiments are being really useful to improve my knowledge of color theory, and I am finishing a small series of portraits, entirely painted through the Zorn palette, which will be available on the auction that will be held in the ‘Soul & Energy Art Group‘ on Facebook.

Join the group in order to subscribe to the ‘Magic Moments’ auction,and let beautiful art inspire your December and lead you to a joyful, colourful Christmas time!

Next week I’ll give a preview of all the pieces giving all the details of size, support and the range of prices.