Colour Mixing Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s Palette


Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is typically credited with staying the ‘Mother of American Modernism’. She is finest recognized for her huge-scale, billowing flower paintings and the several landscapes she painted through her time in New Mexico, a location that she returned to once more and once more. From the cold and austere color palettes of some of her flower paintings, to the scorching and burning hues encouraged by New Mexico, O’Keeffe was maybe 1 of the greatest colourists of the 20th century. This write-up will take a glimpse at the colors in her palette, and puts jointly three colour palettes inspired by the colour associations in her perform.


Photograph of Georgia O’Keeffe with her sketchbook and watercolours by her side taken by Alfred Atieglitz, 1918.


Ga O’Keeffe’s Palette

In 2020, a collection of pigments from Ga O’Keeffe’s studio went up for auction at Sotheby’s. The jars have been labelled in her handwriting, but irrespective of whether these dry pigments have been actually utilized by O’Keeffe is uncertain, as she was regarded to obtain her oil paints from Winsor and Newton. Even so, they give us an plan of the types of pigments she favored to use in her color palette. They provided Burnt Sienna, Purple Madder, Rose Madder, Raw Umber, Purple Ochre, Yellow Ochre, Gamboge, Chrome Eco-friendly (a combination of Chrome Yellow and Prussian Blue), Cobalt Blue, Indigo, Zinc White, and Terre Verte.

These colors may perhaps not extraordinary on their possess, but how she applied them surely was. Her colour palette was quite concentrated and intentional. She created color swatches, and planned and refined the colours ahead of putting brush to canvas. When there is creative freedom to be located in the spontaneous use of color, there is also a little something to be explained for a considered plan and a minimal palette.


Blue and Environmentally friendly Music by Ga O’Keeffe, 1921. Artwork Institute of Chicago


Color Palette #1: Terre Verte, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Carmine, and Cobalt Blue

The first palette is influenced by a person of O’Keeffe’s recollections during just one of her stays in New Mexico:

    “I climbed way up on a pale green hill and in the night light—the sunshine less than the clouds—the colour impact was really strange—standing superior on a pale eco-friendly hill wherever I could glance all all over at the purple, yellow, purple formations—miles all around—the colors all intensified by the pale grey environmentally friendly I was standing on.”

O’Keeffe is going through, in a really actual and embodied way, the impact that colours have on each other– a neat-toned Eco-friendly Earth (PG23) intensifies the fiery hue of warm colours. So, with this in head, the to start with palette is made around Eco-friendly Earth:



I didn’t blend the Green Earth in the chart above because its a very low-tinting color compared with the others, and so it comes to the fore when applied on its own. The moody purples designed by Carmine and Cobalt Blue and the warm oranges of the Carmine and Yellow Ochre seriously set off the sensitive coolness of the inexperienced. Overall this palette is well balanced and flexible, managing the gamut concerning cool and warm tones.


Colour Palette #2: Cobalt Blue, Carmine, Manganese Violet, and Cadmium Yellow

One particular placing issue about Georgia O’Keeffe’s palette is the way she set two equivalent colors following to just about every other in a way that reveals the two their variations and their similarities, resulting in a type of ‘tension’ amongst the two. In Sunrise, a watercolour study from 1916, she put a dazzling purple-pink next to a hot crimson:


Sunrise by Georgia O’Keeffe, watercolour on paper, 1916


The great purple-pink helps make the purple glance comparatively warm, when the pink delivers out the blue-tones in the purple-pink. The yellow in the centre kinds a focal issue that, as a complementary color to purple, further more intensifies the purple tones in the bordering colours. With this in mind, the next palette incorporates Carmine and Manganese Violet– two colors that aren’t very significantly from each other in the color wheel (they are bluish purple and reddish violet respectively). When made use of collectively they exhibit an intriguing colour ‘tension’ we locate in O’Keeffe’s get the job done.



My initial strategy for this palette utilized a substantially extra fragile yellow, but I realised that the purple-heavy mixtures of Cobalt Blue, Carmine, and Manganese Violet ended up crying out for an extreme, opaque yellow to act as a complementary. The combination of Manganese Violet and Cadmium Yellow might be of fascination for portrait painters– it makes an appealing brownish orange that I wasn’t expecting!


Jackson’s Manganese Violet oil paint


Color Palette #3: Lemon Yellow, Viridian, Eco-friendly Earth, and Prussian Blue

The previous two palettes have made use of complementary colours (i.e. yellow and purple, environmentally friendly and orange), but this last palette is motivated by one more way that O’Keeffe makes use of colour- utilizing a quite narrow color palette. A excellent case in point of this is her portray Blue and Green Music which you observed previously in this submit, but it is a colour palette she employed in some of her large-scale flower paintings as nicely. The following palette features colours from a interesting yellow (lemon yellow), a yellow-environmentally friendly (Terre Verte yellow-shade), a blue environmentally friendly (Viridian), and a eco-friendly-blue (Prussian Blue). This smaller slice of the color spectrum produces a unified, nevertheless subdued, colour palette:



We can discover a large amount from the artists of artwork record, and what Ga O’Keeffe’s palette teaches us is that breaking absent from the conventional most important-colour palette (in which all a few most important colors are represented) can generate some interesting results. Which a person of these palettes is your favorite?



Further Looking at

Colour Mixing: Eight Blues in Eight Limited Palettes

Venetian Crimson: the Pink Earth Pigment That Evokes the Italian Renaissance

Recreating Rembrandt’s Color Palette With Modern Pigments

Pigment Stories: Yinmn Blue, the Most recent Blue Pigment


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Evie Hatch

Evie’s interests lie in the heritage and qualities of artist colours and components. This investigation plays a big part in her artwork exercise she loves investigating common techniques and helps make her very own watercolour and oil paints. Evie graduated in 2016 from Camberwell University of Art with a degree in Drawing. She is presently studying Artwork Background at the Courtauld Institute, London.

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