My New Favorite Color

As a landscape painter who loves painting skies, I’ve always been partial to blues — from the palest, most delicate tint to the deepest, darkest shades. I’ve come to define myself as a reflective artist, because this is the quality I see most often in my oil paintings. My paintings tend to be thoughtful and meditative. At least that’s how I hope they appear to others. I love to paint quiet scenes of nature, and my palette has generally been somewhat subdued. Along with blue, I’m drawn to various grays, and gray-greens. Just take a look at that recent winter scene I painted.

River in Winter (2)

These are, without a doubt,  my colors.  They’re moody, they’re quiet, they’re subtle… but, wait! Take a look at that brush in the lower left corner. Notice how I used yellow ochre there? My, my, but doesn’t that add a richness to the scene? Doesn’t that bright bit of yellow really bring it all to life?

Adding that small bit of yellow ochre surprised me. At first I worried that it spoiled all my work, but as I stepped back and took a better look at it, I liked what I saw.

And then I worked on that little oil I showed as part of my Theme and Variations project.

Oil Variation (3)
Summer Scene

At first, while I was working on this, it looked a bit ho-hum to me. Just another painting with a little pond and lots of greenery around it. Nothing new. Nothing different. Nothing exciting.

I wanted to brighten it up a bit. How could I add a feeling of sunlight? Well, yellow, of course. I grabbed yellow ochre first, wasn’t satisfied with it, so I added strokes of lemon yellow. Suddenly it looked bright and cheery. I liked it… a lot.

Yellow Flowers (2)The next day I found myself staring at yet another rather dull, very predictable, and quite tiresome landscape scene. The painting is part of a study of skies and clouds, so that’s what most of it is. I liked my sky. I liked my trees, too. But what about that foreground?

I always have problems with foregrounds, you know. What to do with it?

Maybe I could add a few flowers! How about yellow flowers?


Again, I reached for lemon yellow and was amazed at how bright and cheerful this painting suddenly became. Lemon yellow, I realized, was quickly becoming my new favorite color.

Yellow Flowers (3)So, when I began this landscape and found myself once again looking at a familiar — and tiresome — scene of trees, I knew exactly what the painting needed. Yellow flowers. Lots of yellow flowers.

I’m madly in love with the yellow flowers on the right edge.  I actually painted those flowers! Dare I say it again… wonders never cease!

This painting, too, was a practice piece, an opportunity to mix and play with lots of greens. I like some of the greens I used, others I don’t care for, but more than anything I  love that lemon yellow.

So, I’ll be using a lot more lemon yellow in my paintings. I was running low, so I’ve already ordered a large tube. I have a feeling I’m going to need it!

What’s YOUR favorite color? What colors do you most enjoy using in your art?




  1. Yellow ochre surely worked! My favorite color is pastel blue and pink. And I am also partial to blue color. Whenever I have to paint the background color, I choose blue. It works all the time for me.

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