Monday, April 11, 2016

Paint Diet

Dance Music, 40 x 30 - warm and cool color

I have found that it is vexing to many workshop participants to limit their colors - whether to six pigments, a warm and cool of each primary, or even worse to some,  MY everyday palette:
Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Red Medium, and Ultramarine Blue, plus white.    

Yet, using a limited palette:

1.   Simplifies one's life, especially when traveling.
2.   Automatically creates color harmony, since all colors are derived from the basic three.
3.   Aids in understanding the Warm/Cool dynamic.
4.   And best of all, we can create some very subtle and sophisticated colors!

Any limited palette DOES, however, mean lots of time mixing...but it means less time buying and squeezing out paint too.  Also, my personal tendency is to throw anything on my palette into the pile, which is a likely path to mud. 

To me, the pros are worth the tradeoffs, but each of us has to utimately find her own sweet spot.  
After my workshop two weeks ago, however, I rediscovered true appreciation of the Paint Diet, as its benefits unfolded before my eyes in the wonderful work each participant created (wish I had more images to share).

Below are some of my recent pieces, along with two by Kathleen Smithson, who has come to
embrace the potential of "limits," (offering Unlimited Potential).

 Beach Girl, 18 x 14 - mostly warm color

 Remembering Alaska, 36 x 36 - cool and muted color

Pattern Dance, 30 x 30,  strong and subtle, high-contrast color

Below are two paintings by workshop friend, Kathleen Smithson, who told me she has been on the  PAINT DIET for a year!  Look at the colors she achieves... 
(and again, I regret only having two out of SO many nice paintings done at my last workshop hosted by Jeanne Matey at Soulful Art Studio in Cumming, GA).

 Smithson, Spring Ideas,  45-minute workshop study

 Smithson, Light on Roses,  60-minute workshop study

So, why not practice with a simple set-up and just a few colors?

Warm Up, 9 x 12

  Slim Down and Have some Fun - try the 


  1. Bonjour,

    Je suis sous le charme de votre travail... Une belle palette de couleurs (malgré la restriction !!)... sourire.

    Gros bisous ♡

  2. I'm wondering about the 1862 white--different from titanium in other brands? Love your paintings!

    1. Hi Judy,

      It's a nice soft mixing white... Gamblin Titanium Zinc white does that too.
      Many Titanium whites are very thick and too opaque for me. Thanks!

  3. You are always so inspiring! Love, love, love - miss you!

  4. I am always happy when I see that you have created a new post. Love seeing how you have kept it all Simply Beautiful. You have inspired so many with your words and works. I have all these lonely (and old) tubes of paint sitting in drawers because I pretty much try to stick to your simple palette too. Fun and helpful to throw something in now and again.
    Best to you!!

    1. Carol,

      Love hearing from you and you are inspiring plenty of people yourself -- yay.

      It IS fun to crack out a random color and follow that trail for a day or two...then I seem to go right back to the basic three ... Best to you too!

  5. Beautiful post as usual. Thank you for taking Alizarin Crimson away from me. LOL I tell folks if you've never taken a workshop with Nancy Franke, do it.

    1. Hi ya Gina... I know, those tubes of Alizarin are just aging in place in one of my paint bins... heard your workshop at Kathleen's was are rockin it, my friend! xo

  6. Nancy, I am a student and friend of Helen Farson. I am really interested in your workshop focusing on figures in Atlanta this coming October. Are there any openings? I would live to be able to study with you! I saw Helen today, and she suggested I message you!

    1. Hi Gail... Love Helen. She is great
      Not sure about status of Oct workshop, but get on the list...there are
      always cancellations. Hope it works!

  7. Great post and beautiful paintings. Love the idea for the minimal palette.

  8. How can I send you a picture of a painting? The signature on it just says FRANKE. My email is

    Thank you.

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