My Favorite Colors to Work With



I can not honestly tell you that I have a certain palette of colors that I strictly keep adhere to. What I can honestly say is that there are certain colors I do start every one of my paintings with. I like to stick to 5 main colors and add when necessary, just to see how far I can go with these 5 main colors. I will use these 5 colors until I am forced to add another color to my palette. I believe that one trait of a true artist is the ability to achieve a wide range of color with just a small limited palette. To be accurate I should say that I only use 3 colors and 2 toners, but I’m not educated in a prestigious art university and I’m not that interested in being too particular. So for the purpose of this article, we will go with the term “color” for all of the pigments used.


While I do use a small limited palette, I tend to mix several colors together, as well as several shades of these colors, before I start doing any actual painting. Now keep in mind that I will constantly be mixing these new colors even more as the painting progresses. I like to do this to make me slow down and give me time to examine the image on the canvas while analyzing the color properties.


I have used different brands of paint and I am sure you have too. When changing different manufactures you find that certain companies may not have a color that the previous manufacture had. When learning how to mix a limited palette, you remove the necessity for a lot of these certain colors. And as we all know, all colors evolve from the primary colors of Red, Yellow, and Blue.


My core color palette is:

  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cadmium Red ( I have been playing around with Naphthol Red so this may change)
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Titanium White
  • Lamp Black


These 5 colors tend to stay pretty close between different brands (as long as you stay artist quality). And they mix well to produce secondary colors also (like Orange, Green, and Purple).


I once read somewhere that it was recommended to do at least 100 paintings with these 5 colors before adding another color. I tried to stick to that rule as best as I could but I think I cheated around #10! But I still start my projects with these 5 colors, and I keep it across oil, acrylic, and watercolor media as well



My next go to colors are:

  • Yellow Ochre
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Indian Yellow
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Phthalo Blue
  • And sometimes Ivory or Midnight Black


I normally add these if I’m doing Landscapes in a public display like an art fair or limited on time. I may also add even other colors if the subject calls for it and I can’t seem to get the combination right.


In conclusion, I want to say that your palette is your preference, based on your likes or dislikes. I don’t like when one artist tells another artist what they should or should not use.

In the case of a teacher/student situation this rule is bendable but still, you should never stop another artist from experimenting with color, materials, or different techniques.

What colors are in your palette?, What brands do you like or dislike?, Do you use the same color palette for all of your projects? Comment below and share… Happy Creating!!