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Using a Limited Palette of Two Colors
© 2000 Nita Leland

limited palette watercolor painting There are many different limited palette systems, but one of the easiest to learn and use is the complementary color scheme. Using just two colors you can get the effect of full color by exploring the range of colors between the two. Complements will always be opposite each other on the color wheel, so one will be warm and the other cool, giving you a nice temperature contrast. Allow one to dominate the other and you can create an exciting mood.

Here I've combined blue-green (Phthalo Turquoise) and red-orange (Cadmium Scarlet) to achieve a pleasing arrangement of colors that ranges from the original colors through a variety of grays and browns. Try this with other combinations, for example:

  • French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna
  • Alizarin Crimson and Hooker's Green
  • Winsor Violet and New Gamboge
See also Exploring Color Revised p. 83.

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