Limited palette demo

This noon I braved the heat to attend a demo at Seattle Daniel Smith
by Ann Breckon.  The subject of the demo was “Painting with a Limited Palette”.

In a little over an hour, in sweltering conditions, she produced a beautiful painting with just 3 primaries.  Both of these paintings were completed during a demo.  The one on the left today and the one on the right yesterday in Bellevue.  Today she painted with the cool primaries and yesterday with the warm.  She made mixing all these colors seem easy.  That’s the decades of watercolor experience on display!

This is the group of paints she used:

I think I might try this limited palette.  I didn’t buy this boxed set as I think I have all these colors.  I’ll make a palette of full pans in a mint tin.


I have a few notes on specific tips and tricks I found useful.
* Magic eraser sponge might remove stains from palette
* Ox Gall Liquid breaks surface tension of watercolors on the palette, making washes easier and more fluid without adding water.  I bought some.
* “Clean the palette” Black:  brush out all the different colors “contaminating” each palette color and squeegee the brush full of color onto the a section of palette.  This will produce a dirty brown.  Add some ultramarine blue and presto, a gorgeous mix of black!
* Paint birds’ bodies directionally; have the birds always fly into the painting, not out of it, to draw the eye in. Direction of the slant of the bird’s body determines direction of flight.

She had a handout of many workshops and classes still available in 2015.  I found her prices exceptionally reasonable.  I’m tempted by ones in Federal Way but I won’t set foot in Hobby Lobby.  The ones at Daniel Smith conflict with my volunteer shift at the Museum of Flight.  Maybe I’ll look into location-based workshops in 2016.

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About redharparts

Born in Michigan. Attended undergrad and graduate universities there. I've lived in England, Germany, Southern California and now Washington (state). I'm a retired Medical Social Worker with a past specialty in Oncology. I've enjoyed exploring historical re-creation through the SCA. I costume in several fandoms. Lately I've returned to Art and have taken up Urban Sketching, a version of en plein air painting.
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3 Responses to Limited palette demo

  1. JOAN says:

    I’ve used the Mr. Clean Eraser to remove staining Alizarin Crimson, almost entirely! I was amazed. I don’t know what chemicals are in this eraser, probably not archival, but I really don’t care for a sketchbook. I’d try the eraser on UM Blue and other staining colors on scrap paper as a precaution.
    I cut my eraser into pieces with a sharp point for small areas. Worked like a charm. I was sold on this product. Works great in the kitchen and bath also.

  2. Ann Breckon says:

    Hi MK. Thank you for your great notes. You were really paying attention and I’m glad some of the hints may prove useful. The Magic Eraser Sponges work because of their cellular structure, not because of any chemicals. Make sure you buy the ones without soap. For the great job they do on staining paints, whether on your palette, your art, or your fingers….they are surprisingly gentle on the paper’s surface.
    –Ann

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