Years ago I made largely monochromatic work which slowly morphed into a very muted muddy palette. I was making work about Gt. Yarmouth at the time, it was Thatcher’s Britain and felt very dismal so the palette subconsciously reflected that, but I only realised this retrospectively.
After having two beautiful babies, colour opened up. It leapt from the aforementioned muted palette to acidic colour in my paintings of planets, eclipses and sun storms taken from Hubble Space Telescope photos.
Twelve years ago I began painting landscape in earnest, and inspired by David Hockney’s use of colour they used several clean colours such as phthalocyanine turquoise and cadmium yellow. But it was more emulation rather than finding my own path.
After some experimentation, the discovery of a cheap tube of cobalt violet light came my way- it is usually an expensive colour to buy. This cut price tube was a revelation in colour mixing, it turned a corner into a palette somewhere between muted and heightened colour work. When it was mixed it threw colours off onto rich diversions, colours so unexpected and complex and when combined with my other colour choices I began to really delve deep into the endless possibilities it produced.
Since settling on a core colour palette of four a few years ago all my work has been made using them. They are utterly comfortable now, maybe that might sound unchallenging but it is not the case. It can be difficult to achieve certain colours and it takes careful preparation. I see posts by painters who are so clean and separate their colours religiously. I neither have the patience or the skill to be this neat and have embraced working in the opposite way. A dirty palette habit has developed of over mixing and bumping into previous formula which serves some surprise colours to use. As the colours I use are complex with several pigments used in each tube I get muted colour, something suited to the uniquely grey/blue of England. It is the dankest, greyest days with blanketed skies which inspire me most, when light is flattened, colours softened.
I use paper palettes as I hate cleaning a palette even more than brushes. You can scrape unused paint off onto a new sheet and sometimes I keep the used ones to be reminded of the mixes used in a previous painting.
Today I am painting the sea. Having started one painting a couple of days ago I now am going to attempt the replicate the energy and mixes in another.