Watch a short film about the color blue:

video iconI’ve noticed some artists tend to favor a certain color. Taking a very wide view, I’ve even noticed certain cities tend to shy away from certain colors or favor others. It seemed every artist in New Orleans started with a cadmium red imprimatur.* I’ve noticed many Charleston artists who seem to lean toward Yellow Ochre.* I’ve observed that even in the last 50 years society’s palette tastes in general have become more vivid, accepting color schemes which are higher in chroma.*


This painting is perhaps a little garish, because I was seduced to use a lot of exotic tube colors.

I think our perception of color has evolved, as the short video above details, and that literature and poetry have had a huge impact.* The clever naming of colors has changed art. Crayola crayons has added many new colors. And I’ve heard of many couples will fight to the death over a color called “salmon.” I have students who come to me with every color made by Winsor&Newton, assuming that this uniquely equips them to be better artists.  While most seasoned artists prefer a limited palette, saying more with less.


Here’s another mountain painting, made with a more limited, disciplined palette. It is still “bright” but not as garish as the other.

I also have noticed after almost 40 years in the art biz that intense palettes rise and fall from fashion as the economy changes. Bad times mean drabber colors in art.* As consumer confidence rises brighter colors begin to show up on people’s walls.* Most artists, including myself, buck the trends and just do what we want, but there are those, perhaps more sensitive to their environment than most, who manage to capture the palette of the changing seasons.

*Blue, blue, my heart is blue
yet nothing I’ve said here is true.
The only thing I know for sure
Is that my blue heart is pure.

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