A Box of Rocks and the Earth Palette *

I keep a Box of Rocks in my Studio for inspiration. I pick them up everywhere I go. I call my colors, "The Earth Palette." My colors are made from the minerals of the earth, ground, mixed with oil and tubed.

Animal or Vegetable, With the earth palette, I can match any color that nature can invent.

Above are some of the paintings in which I have used this palette. You can see how well they would fit, color wise, into my box of rocks.

What I don't have - and don't want - are the modern "chemical" colors that I see in those "toy store plastics." I think that these colors don't make very nice paintings.

My palette is very old fashioned and my pigments are made from mother earth.

Here's some of the natural iron oxides you get when you grind those rocks: Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and Burnt Umber (shown above).

Add some linseed oil, put the mixtures in tubes and get these earth colors: Venetian Red, Indian Red, Ivory Black (shown above).

Each color family in my palette, red, yellow and blue has both warm and cool colors.


I like to surround myself with the colors of earth as it helps keep my eye "true." You can see a little piece of this old Oriental Rug on my (natural red tile) floor that was dyed with natural earth colors - naturally.

In paintings I usually mix Ivory black and white to make a color that looks "blue." Then I can glaze other colors into that to approximate any of the natural blue mineral colors you see above. I haven't seen any color in the sky that I cannot match with one of my rocks.

There is an endless variety of deep rich natural blacks in nature. I don't have any coal in my collection yet. Drat.

Just look at the delicious colors that represent white. None of them are the color of a sheet of white paper...they are so much richer than that.

Another group of interesting colors. I have a rock to match nearly every leaf and blade of grass that nature makes.

Purples and Violets


Susan Carlin said...

I'm usually a lurker on your site, and it's funny that your "box of rocks" post has made me surface, as I admire your work so much, but I just had to tell you what a treat and good reminder your post was. Thank you!

Enzie at World Market Portraits said...


I absolutely love this post! What a wonderful way to receive inspiration for color choices!