I decided it was time to try something different to see if I can make my plein air painting experience a little less challenging.

I’ve used limited palettes before, and it does help, but this week I tried a three-colour palette and pre-mixing.

I used French ultramarine, cadmium yellow light and cadmium scarlet, plus white.

I pre-mixed some warm and cool grey from these colours and used these as the starting point for other mixes. I then mixed patches of all the major colours I could see in the landscape before putting even one spot of paint on the painting panel.

My first attempts made some aspects of painting easier, since all decisions are made prior to painting, so all colours and tones are assessed and then mixed at the same time, side-by-side.

(Sketch for Grey day, Knights Road. 22x20cm oil on board. © Andy Dolphin)

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you’ve seen this tree before. It’s a favourite spot.

It was cloudy while I was doing this painting. I don’t think sunlight hit the scene the whole time I was there.

The first thing I’ve noticed from the changed approach is that the result is quite harmonious. That’s hardly surprising when everything is mixed from just three colours. But the colours also seem somewhat neutral, to me.

I suspect my cadmium scarlet is just a bit too orange and, when mixed with the ultramarine, rather than making the sorts of clean violets I’m used to when using permanent crimson, I’m getting grey-browns.

(Sketch for Wild Ptilotus. 20x33cm oil on board. © Andy  Dolphin)

Those little fluffy things are the flowers of a Ptilotus, an Australian native plant. They were scattered in patches all over this strip of roadside bush.

This painting presented two challenges. Firstly, it was a new subject for me. I mostly paint scenic views whereas this was like a combination of landscape and still life. Secondly, I used the same limited palette, pre-mix approach I used above.

Again, I like the harmony but feel it is a little grey. I need to get some more rustic warm tones and natural greens in there. I’m going to go back and have another go as soon as possible.

For now, we’ve been promised thunder storms again – and the clouds are definitely building fast – so I’m going to have to go for a drive and see what nature can throw at me this time.