Color Palette Notes


For 30 plus years, Rembrandt by Royal Talens has been our choice of oil paint. Our basic palette consists of 5 tubed colors plus White. The tubed colors are Cadmium Yellow Light, Viridian, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Permanent Madder Deep and Permanent Red. We think about each color and its relationship to the color wheel as we paint.. In this image, I’ve placed a color note of where they belong on the color wheel.

The color wheel is easily mixed from these five tubed colors. It’s vital to know how colors relate to each other and where they belong on the color spectrum. By thinking about and mixing the color wheel from the original five colors, we are already on our way to achieving color harmony. There is no single color trying to steal the show. Even the earth tones of Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Burnt Sienna can be mixed from our palette.

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Our choice of white is Rembrandt Titanium White with Linseed Oil. Rembrandt also makes a Titanium White with Safflower Oil, but the one with Linseed Oil as the binder has a more buttery consistency. We add a small amount of Winsor & Newton Liquin Impasto and Alkyd Titanium White to the Rembrandt White. This increases the flow of the paint off the brush and helps with layering.

Keep It Simple


I lay out a basic complementary palette of red and green in rows of 3, 5 and 7 value. The middle row is my neutral gray mixed from my red and green. You can see that I’ve slightly grayed or neutralized my red and green.

I’ve blocked in the painting using a variety of colorful grays and neutrals from my simple color rows. Working Alla Prima, I am painting as though I am going for finished color, even though it will be modified later.


I continue to paint within the idea of my red and green complementary palette. Since orange contains some red, I introduce it to my palette. I also introduce a Green Blue, which keeps the blue leaning towards the green family and therefore in harmony with my chosen palette.

Value Relationships Are Key

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Here I am using a Green Blue/Red Orange palette. I mix my rows of colorful grays and neutrals from these base colors. I simplify my values to just the 3, 5 and 7 range. Reducing the major shapes in your painting to just 3 values, simplifies the myriad of values that our eyes are capable of seeing and makes it easier to achieve success. This image is reproduced slightly darker than the actual palette.

In order to judge if I have mixed my values accurately, I’ve placed a small amount of my Red Orange color mixes onto a value scale in their appropriate 3, 5 and 7 value spaces. If I squint my eyes and the color note blends in, I am all set; otherwise I have to adjust it. Values create unity and make the painting believable to the viewer.

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I’ve blocked in the big shapes using my Red Orange colorful grays. From here I will use my complementary palette along with some carefully selected colors from my full palette. I want the final painting to be filled with color harmony, not color discord. Notice that I have placed a white and black value note onto my block in image. I have plenty of room to go lighter or darker, but I want to save the darkest and lightest values for my dark accents and highlights.

Our Suggested List of Painting Supplies


We use Rembrandt Oil paint except where noted. 

Rembrandt Titanium White in Linseed Oil, 150 ml tube
Winsor & Newton Griffin Alkyd Titanium White, 200 ml tube
Winsor & Newton Liquin Impasto, 200 ml tube
Rembrandt Permanent Madder Deep
Rembrandt Permanent Red Light
Rembrandt Cadmium Yellow Light
Rembrandt Viridian Green
Rembrandt Ultramarine Blue Deep
Optional colors: Rembrandt Cad Red Deep, Rembrandt Venetian Red and Rembrandt Burnt Umber


Robert Simmons Signet Series 42 Filberts in even sizes 2, 4, 6 & 8
Robert Simmons Signet Series 40 Brights, Sizes 4 & 6
Robert Simmons Sienna SNSO Script, Size 6
Robert Simmons Titanium Filberts, Sizes 2, 4, 6 & 8


Palette Knife-Creative Mark Painters Edge, Style 3T
Paper Towels-Bounty
Gamsol or other Odorless Mineral Spirits OMS. No pure turpentine either as a brush cleaner or in painting mediums.
Painting Medium - Made with 2 parts Gamsol to 1 part each of Stand Oil & Damar Varnish. 
Brush Washer
Medium Cup
Trash Bags
Canvas - 9x12 and 11x14 inch panles are good travel sizes. 
Alkyd Primed 359 or A600 Linen from Wind River Arts
Outdoor Easel


Insect Repellant
Sun Block
Painting Umbrella

LIST OF RECOMMENDED SUPPLIERS. These are the suppliers that we have used for years and are highly recommended for their service and quality of products.
Alla Prima Pochade Boxes
Cheap Joe’s