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Masters' Painting Secrets: Rembrandt's Portrait Palette

One of the common questions for artists is what colours to use for this or that goal. We are revealing some Masters’ secrets. And we’ll start with portraits, the most challenging subject for most artists.

For example, Rembrandt’s portrait palette basically consisted of Ivory Black, Ochre, Sienna, Umber, Van Dyke, Vermilion, Kremer Lead Tin Yellow Deep, Yellow and Red Cochineal, Smalte (sort of Cobalt Blue), Azurite and Lead White. As a bright red Rembrandt mixed Earth Red with Cochineal or just used Vermillion.

Since Rembrandt’s times pigment manufacturing technologies have been significantly improved; so, we can rewrite his palette as follows:

  • Ivory Black
  • Yellow and Gold Ochre
  • Raw and Burnt Sienna
  • Raw and Burnt Umber
  • Van Dyke
  • Cinnabar Red or Vermilion
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Cadmium Red Medium and Deep
  • Cobalt Blue

Also we really recommend adding Naples Yellow and Naples Flesh as a base for skin colour.

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