Paint Palettes of the Old Masters

Vincent van Gogh's palette (Photo courtesy the Telegraph)

Why is van Gogh’s paint palette worth preserving? Lucy Davies, photography critic for the Telegraph, tackled this question in a blog post she wrote last year:

“The daubs of raw pigment or the mixes left in position can be an intriguing index to the working method and the mind of the artist…Where and how colour is laid can convey emotion, psychology, religious significance. ‘The whole value of what you are about’ wrote John Ruskin in his Elements of Drawing, first published in 1857 ‘depends on colour. If the colour is wrong, everything is wrong: just as, if you are singing, and sing false notes, it does not matter how true your words are.'”

These photographs of palettes used by painters like van Gogh, Gaughin, and Degas are fascinating to peruse. You can read Davies’ full piece on the use of color in painting here.

The palette of Paul Gauguin, who said, "Pure colour! Everything must be sacrificed to it.” (Photo courtesy the Telegraph)


Eugène Delacroix's paint palette (Photo courtesy the Telegraph)


The palette of Georges Seurat (Photo courtesy the Telegraph)


Gustave Moreau's palette (Photo courtesy the Telegraph)


Auguste Renoir's palette (Photo courtesy the Telegraph)


The paint palette of Edgar Degas (Photo courtesy the Telegraph)

Looking for an interesting art book for yourself or your students? Check out the new Gwarlingo Store–a hand-picked selection of some of my favorite books. All of your purchases directly support this site.

While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the Gwarlingo home page, which is updated regularly. Right now, you can preview new music, see the latest Gwarlingo recommendations and reader comments, plus view art work by painter Lori Larusso.

If you like Gwarlingo, I hope you’ll consider subscribing by email. (It’s easy, safe, and free, and you won’t have to remember to keep checking the website). You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook or share a “like” on the Gwarlingo Facebook page.


By | 2016-11-11T21:55:48+00:00 08.08.11|Found, Images, Process|Comments Off on Paint Palettes of the Old Masters

About the Author:

I'm a writer, photographer, and the creator of Gwarlingo, a crowd-funded arts & culture journal that covers contemporary art, music, books, film, and the creative process. I’ve spent nearly 20 years as an arts enabler, helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I’ve also done time at an arts magazine, a library, and an art museum in Atlanta. For two years I cared for injured eagles, hawks, and owls at a raptor rehabilitation center in Vermont. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, consulting, and creative projects full-time. (You can check out my recent projects here.) I’ve appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, served as the judge for A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Literary Prize, and received fellowships from the Hambidge Center and Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts. My writing and photography have appeared in RISD XYZ magazine, 2Paragraphs, Psychology Today, Born Journal, and other publications. I offer one-on-one coaching sessions, group workshops, and speak to businesses, arts groups, and students about overcoming the psychological and practical barriers to producing your best work. (Read more here .) If you'd like to work with me one-on-one or hire me to speak at your school, business, or organization, please contact me at michelle (at) gwarlingo (dot) com. -