Oil Painting and Palette Control (Newsletter from 1979)

Field of Poppies by Vincent Van Gogh
Painting above by Vincent Van Gogh


Did you know that there is evidence to indicate that painters have organized their palettes to the color wheel in much the same way that manufacturers of musical instruments design their products to a twelve tone scale? An interesting notion, isn’t it? A palette upon which to perform. A palette designed to change keys and function in different registers. Wouldn’t that make things easy? Have you any reason to believe that a master painter would go out of his way to make anything difficult for himself…that he would not have an organized palette? A palette is a tool/ instrument which should respond, in an orderly way, to the painters demands. Of course, painters have thought through the problem and such an easy and straight-forward method exists…it has, for a long time.

Orange Key Palette Colour Control by Frank Morley Fletcher

Colour Control by Frank Morley Fletcher
Illustrations above from Frank Morley Fletcher’s book “Colour Control.”


One need but look through a series of paintings by any modern master to notice that the range of colors differ from painting to painting. That the grays in different schemes differ. But there is a grand and all embracing unity to the color, isn’t there? Clever old jokers, weren’t they? How is it that you have to struggle through hundreds of new colors, generate mountains of offensive mud, slave for years to pin down a limited range of color that you can manage, and then be stuck in that rut for the rest of your years?

The situation isn’t significant enough to be considered tragic…but it is rather sad. Particularly if there is a pill that could cure the condition.

Vincent Van Gogh Portrait of Joseph Roulin
Painting above by Vincent Van Gogh


It’s odd…with all of the College Art Departments and major art schools graduating as many students as they do, that so few graduates become active artists.

Odd, too, that there are so many people about with faded dreams of doing something worthwhile with their art.

Disappointment is always sad, particularly when it is unnecessary. If you have a background in art, perhaps even a faded degree, a neglected and dusty dream, an undeveloped and longstanding urge, a vigorous interest or just a powerful curiosity, why not get yourself together and watch the invaluable DVD’s: Drawing I Class and the Palette Control & Color Theory. Take this opportunity to revitalize your skills, and build new ones.

Vincent Willem Van Gogh Sunflowers
Painting above by Vincent Van Gogh