A Limited Palette
“Your business Winsor is to make colour. Mine is to use them.” This is Turner responding to gentle criticism from William Winsor who was concerned about Turner’s occasional lack of forward thinking when it came to using colour that would last. It must have been hard for a genius like Turner to pocket his pride and take a more considered approach, but Winsor’s point is as valid now as it was then: For the work of an artist to last they need to choose colour that will stand the test of time. This simple message remains one of the fundamental aspects of the work of Winsor & Newton today
I have been looking at a work by the master Turner in an attempt to analyse his use of colour,it seems akin to most experienced artists a limited palette is something adopted as they progress,personally I have a huge amount of pretty colours that I bought in my early days and they now sit gradually decaying unused.
My usual palette consists of French ultramarine,Pthalo blue,Crimson Alizarin, Cadmium Yellow Pale along with Titanium White,I often add a little Cadmium Red or perhaps Cadmium Orange but try to resist the urge to introduce lots and lots of possibly conflicting colours,i think this is very important when using oils even more so than acrylics as the tendency to end up with mud is very high.
Turner, like most, loved to experiment with new colours as intimated in the opening statement and indeed delighted in adding a dash of a new colour he had discovered to his latest work hanging in the salon on varnishing day,apparently much to the consternation of Constable.
The little painting i have done is copied from a masterpiece from Turner called "Van Tromp Going About to Please His Masters-Ships a Sea Getting a Good Wetting"
The Original is 92.4 Cm x 123.2 Cm,my little study is somewhat more modest at 20 x 30cm,i did however try to stick to what it seems was his palette and am pleased with the tones i managed to achieve.
This was a quick study and although i could have gone further i felt it was all i wanted to do,i learnt quite a lot about his technique and execution.