1 Trick to Faster Oil Paintings


Just finished my first seascape commission! The customer ordered it after seeing some of my smaller personal seascapes, and it was a blast to work on.

I finished this painting in one sitting,with about half an hour's worth of details added a couple days later once it had dried some.

My secret to quick painting?? A fixed palette!

A fixed palette is when you choose three starting colors and mix all the rest of your colors only from those three. It simplifies my life! I don't have to wonder if two hues are going to clash; they can't. They've all been mixed from the same three colors.

So here's what you do; select a yellow, red and blue and place them in a triangle. I've chosen Cadmium Yellow medium, Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue. Start by mixing your yellow and red into a medium orange color (middle bottom). Then mix a red-orange and a yellow-orange on each side of that. Do the same between your yellow and blue; now you've got your Primaries and your Secondaries! After that, mix the secondaries that are across from each other; yellow-green and yellow-orange together, green and orange together, red-orange and blue-green together. Now you've got your Tertiaries! Do the same steps again, mixing all your in-between colors. Now you've got a full palette with neutrals on the inside and brights on the outside!

The last step is to mix a little bit of white into each color, so that you can see the whole range of your palette.

This does take 20-30 minutes right up front, but it removes all of the guesswork in the middle of the painting process, so you can just get going with the good stuff!

Not every painting should have this kind of process done, but I find it helps immensely. What's your favorite time-saving technique?

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