Limited Palette: Day 10 Cappuccino Time-$

Limited Palette? Day 10 #30paintingsin30days. “Cappuccino Time-R”.

On using a limited palette, good idea or bad idea?  Or, just an idea?


Greetings!  I read an article today titled “Why Limit Your Palette?” by artist Paul Foxton of the website “Learning to See”.

Limited Palette: Day 10 Cappuccino Time-R
Example of a Limited Palette

I took away two points from the article I’d like to explore.

  • One is the value of challenging one’s art teachers.
  • The second is challenging the idea of limiting the colors of your palette.  *Note, today’s painting is a limited palette painting.  More on that below.

Caveat.  Before I go further, I ought to highlight that his article sparked ideas of my own. And that is what this article is about.

Put another way, this is not a debate about what Mr. Foxton has to say.  Furthermore, I would like to say that he plans to put his own ideas to the test.  I appreciate this kind of approach and will look forward to reading what he learns.

Challenging One’s Teachers.

Dad’s Advice.  I think this (challenging what a teacher has told you) is a good idea.  My father, artist John Stermer, counseled me to learn as much as I could from my teachers while I was in their class.  Afterward, one can accept what works for you and what doesn’t.

In addition, haven’t most breakthroughs in art, science and many disciplines, come by challenging the established mode?

My Own Experience As Teacher.

On occasion I have had the opportunity to teach watercolor classes.  I recall trying to emphasize that what I was teaching was based on what I know now (then).

Art teachers often contradict each other and themselves which is OK.  Rules are not hard and fast and, with experience and experimenting, we may change our minds about the way to do things.

On Using a Limited Color Palette.

I often limit the colors on my palette when working on a painting.  In the past few years, this has been my favorite mode of operating.

Come to think of it, I have seen other artists use lots of color and do it well.  Artist Gabriel Lipper comes to mind as someone who works well with a full color palette.

Also, I have used a fuller palette in the past.  At one point, I found my paintings too colorful.  Or rather, too loud.  It was like all the colors were speaking at once and the conversation became a jumble.

However, dominance would take care of the problem of color being to loud.  To use writing as an example, something is the primary subject or color; all other colors can support the primary.

Not to be dogmatic or say that this is the only way to be.  But, using dominance would be one way to have a broader range of colors on a palette and still have a unified painting.

Colorful Palette: Seven Abstracted Seashells
Example of a Colorful Palette.  Too much color?  Or?

My Experience.

As an aside, Mr. Foxton talks about the problem of bold statements.  Sigh.

This is a problem I am all too aware of in my own situation!  I try not to make bold statements but inevitably, I do.  My caveat is that I try to remember I might change my mind based further evidence or experience!  Which, in my book, is a good thing!

Recent Work.

If you scroll bag through the recent blog posts, you might notice that I have been using a limited pallet.  Who knows, maybe I’ll experiment with color in the future!


I liked Mr. Foxton’s article because it is thought provoking.  I will read it again and consider my own situation.   Who knows, maybe its time for me to test the rules and change!

And, I do recommend reading his article.

In any case, I’d love to read what you think!  Please feel free to leave a comment. Thank you!


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