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Plein Air Paintings from France, Italy, and Virginia
During my French Residency I painted plein air in Provence, Brittany, and Paris. My palette was only six colors!
I used a split-complimentary palette. Mine consisted of two reds, Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red Light, two yellows, Indian Yellow and Cadmium Lemon, and two blues, Ultramarine Blue and Manganese Blue. And of course large tubes to Mixed White and medium.
I painted on a natural linen pad of clear-primed 11x14 canvas. A dream qued me to look for Ultramarine Blue in the shadows. All other colors shifted in relationship to this shadow color.
Under the gray skies of the Chesapeake Bay at home, I'd been using muted violets and earth tones for the shadows. Thinking of the rainbow spectrum, you can see how the low wavelength of my shadows jumped up to the higher portion of the spectrum.
Every color in a painting is like a jig-saw puzzle piece and can only be seen in relationship with those beside it. Examples of my plein air paintings below illustrate this palette shift. Remember this is not to say one is better than another. Rather to see if you can feel the difference of the more grounded palette of the Chesapeake compared to more ethereal colors of France?
Keep in mind you are looking at a progression of palette shifts. Years before I went to France, 6 weeks of painting in France, and a few done 3 years hence. I am sure you will be able to distinguish the palettes which feel most comfortable to you. If you're having trouble distinguishing, step back and squint to see if one or two stand out.
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