San Diego painter Danny Griego finds that a limited palette virtually ensures color harmony in his paintings, and helps him express mood.
“Recently, after hanging a show and standing back to view all the work, I noticed pretty much all my paintings had the same harmony, mood, chroma, and same colors for shadows,” he recalls. “I had been using a warm/cool primary palette for so long. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that; the paintings still had a good read afar and up close. But there was a certain ‘sameness’ that I really didn’t care for. It was an eye-opener, so I decided to explore as many limited palettes as I could with the hope of not only learning about the palette, but also taking my paintings to the next level in terms of variety and especially trying to convey a certain mood. For me, it has been a great lesson in doing more with less, especially with subtlety.”
The limited palette used in this piece consisted of yellow ochre, transparent red oxide, ultramarine blue, and white. Griego says he has been experimenting with various palettes and color theories, including some laid out by James Gurney. “This particular palette was enough to convey this tranquil alley scene in the waking hours of daylight, which is exactly what I was going for,” he comments.