Picking a Floral Color Palette

One of my fans suggested I paint more small florals as the Holiday season is approaching and they make great gifts. I intended in 2018 to paint more daily paintings, but too many other things drew my attention away. Now, it’s October and it’s time to start doing more of these little ones.

Toward that effort, I wanted a small, consistent color palette to work from. A year ago, I’d ordered Charvin French Fine Art Acrylics for a class, but knew little about values and transparency at that time. For that class, we were told “just pick a warm and cool color of each of the primary colors”. Who can resist buying new toys from the art store? So, I chose:

  • Cad Yellow Lemon – Opaque
  • Hansa Yellow Medium – Semi-transparent
  • Azure Blue – Semi-transparent
  • French Blue – Transparent
  • Oriental Red – Semi-transparent
  • Alizarin Crimson – Semi-transparent

Almost a year later, I’m revisiting this “set” to see if it fits my need for a small, consistent floral palette. Nice and floral looking, right? So far, so good…

Well, here’s the values after color was removed in Photoshop.
EEEEEK!!! I have absolutely zero pure “lights” and no real dark values and almost all medium values!

Of course, I can add white to get lighter values, but then I have an opaque, diluted color, not a pure one.

To get my darkest darks, I could try Alizarin and French Blue, which gives me purple. That might work, but I think I prefer a dark, opaque blue to “sink” those darks into the background. Maybe a little black…I’ll have to experiment…but in the end purchasing an opaque dark blue (or warm red) may have been better.

So, lesson learned: Analyze values and opaque vs. transparent when you’re picking colors from that glossy catalog. It can really save you when you want a limited palette and have limited funds.

Will I buy Charvin again? maybe. Things I hate about this brand are the caps which are hard to screw back on, especially if there is any paint left on the opening…and when is there not, right? Secondly, 3 of the tube labels had absolutely no info on the transparency vs. opaqueness! I had to search online for a brochure…and sadly the Charvin website didn’t even have their own chart to look at! Three strikes for Charvin…

On the plus side, these acrylic paints are rich and buttery, very similar to oils, but also pricey. Pigments are saturated and intense. The paints moves well with the brush and coverage is good. Quality is very high.

I say maybe I’ll buy more, because I haven’t evaluated the Holbein acrylics. Maybe next year…

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