Zorn palette with acrylic paints

Zorn palette color chart in acrylic paint
Acrylic Zorn palette chart

Perhaps it’s my frugal nature, or the way color harmony is simplified, but limited palettes fascinate me. The Zorn palette is one that caught my attention because of its muted greens and limited use of bright, saturated color. When I chose which acrylic paints to buy, one of my considerations was getting colors to work with this palette. (But I also supplemented with ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow light, alizarin crimson, raw umber, and burnt umber.)

For my Zorn color chart, I used yellow ochre, cadmium red light, bone black, and titanium white (all Golden acrylics). I followed the model from this blog post. At least I attempted to — things got a little hazy on the bottom five rows. But hey, it was still very valuable even if I went a little rogue there.

I’d love to do some landscape studies with this palette. It would be interesting to see how I could interpret the North Carolina greens! I could see this palette working great out west, with the desert landscape.

It’s clear to me why artists often recommend beginners start with a limited palette. There’s an overwhelming number of possibilities when it comes to paint color and color in life that it can be so challenging to know where to begin. Creating this color chart shows me the range of possibilities within just a few colors while providing some parameters that help diminish the obstacles to simply starting. As a graphic designer, I always appreciated project parameters that allowed me to focus my energies in a smaller set of directions, and this feels like the same thing.

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