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August 8, 2017

Working With A Limited Palette – Zorn palette

We recently worked with Enid Wood on a project for art educators. The theme of the project was “Working with a limited palette” based on The Zorn Palette. And we would like to share the exercises involved for you to try. First, here is some info. about Anders Zorn and his limited palette. 

PanPastel Colors are pastel (dry) colors that can be mixed like paint & are therefore ideal for experimenting with a limited palette. By using the limited Zorn Palette you will explore:

1. Color temperature
2. Color harmony
3. Color values

The worksheets mentioned below can be downloaded here. For reference, finished examples are shown above.


Begin by completing No.1 ZORN PALETTE WORKSHEET.

Across the top & sides are the 4 colors.

a) Add the colors in each of the spaces as indicated.

b) Then add & mix the second colors indicated where the two intersect on the chart. Clean Sofft Sponge between colors on a paper towel. Use the different sides of the Sofft Tools for different colors. Observe how the colors change when each additional color is added & notice that all the colors created are harmonious.
(The renowned painter & teacher Richard Schmid also uses similar color charts in his book “Alla Prima”.)

Color value is the relative lightness & darkness of a color. Dark values with black added are called “shades” of the color. Light values with white added are called “tints”.

Complete the No.2 VALUES WORKSHEET with mixtures of 3 colors to achieve 5 distinct values of each mixture. (It usually works best to work from dark to light.). You will discover that changing the amount of black & white used enables control of the final value achieved.

Next, complete the No.3 TEMPERATURE WORKSHEET by applying a single color across each row, then modifying it with a second color in varying degrees as indicated.

Note: Warm colors are yellow and red. Black and white act as cool colors.



Choose a subject, and create three value studies and a Zorn Palette painting:

a) Identify the lights & darks in the subject. In a small value sketch, paint the darks black & the lights white.

b) Paint the same subject again, using yellow ochre as the dark, and adding white to it for the lights.

c) Do the same with red.

d) For the final painting – have the students look at the subject in terms of temperature: Cool the shadows with black. Cool the lights with white. Add yellow ochre to warm your lights as needed. Warm the shadows with red.

To see the full PanPastel Zorn Palette lesson plan for art educators visit this page: Art Education Resources

The worksheets mentioned above can be downloaded here.

For further info. on Anders Zorn visit: Zorn Museum

To see more of Enid Wood’s work visit: