Which Palette are YOU?

Pastel, Jewel, or Earth
Which Palette are YOU?

We’ve all heard of pastel colors, jewel tones, and earth colors. But what are they ~ really? What makes them what they are? And why should you care?

If you don’t already know which of these 3 palettes is YOU, take a moment to scan the 3 images below.

Which one draws you in?

Which feels most comfortable to you?

Which one IS you?

Is there one you hate?

Jewel Tones Palette ~ Blooming
Jewel Tones Palette ~ Blooming, oil painting & fine art print

Jewel Tones Palette

How do the Jewel tones make you feel?

Jewel tones are pure pigment, or nearly pure pigment. Very saturated colors. Intense.

The colors in this painting; Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Violet, Vermilion, Magenta, Veridian, Cadmium Yellow, Turquoise have been mixed with just enough white to bring the color identity to light.

The dark center of the flowers is Prussian Blue pure pigment. It appears black, but is not. If black were substituted for this color, it would appear lifeless and dead.

for artists

Charvin Jewel Colors
Ruby Red, Rubine Lake, French Red Light, Diamond Orange,
French Yellow Orange, French Yellow, Anise, Meadow Green, Peacock, Emerald, Intense Turquoise, Deep Turquoise, French Cobalt Blue, Deep Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Rembrandt Vermilion, Rembrandt Quinacridone Rose, Sennelier Rose

Pastel Tones Palette ~ Gently Sunset
Pastel Tones Palette ~ Gently Sunset,  oil painting & fine art print

Pastel Palette

Now let’s look at the colors in this pastel palette. How do these colors feel to you?

Pastel tones are the same pure pigments, mixed with white. This dilutes the pigment. The dark in this example is actually Shadow Green. Mixed with Provence Blue, the color beside the full strength Shadow Green feels pastel.

Please note: this is an oil painting, not a pastel painting. My discussion here is about pastel tones, not the medium of pastels.

for artists

Charvin Pastel Colors
Naples Yellow, Incarnat, Celadon Green, Green Gray Light, Water Green, Tropical Green, St Remy Green, Deep Opaline Green, St Remy Blue, Caraibes, Royal Blue, Bright Linen, Leaded Gray

Earth Tones Palette
Earth Tones Palette ~ Winter Marsh,  oil painting & fine art print

Earth Tones Palette

How do Earth Colors make you feel?

Earth colors are created from pigments found in the earth, Carmine, Red Earth, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Siena, Charcoal, Zinc White. These elements are literally dug from the earth and ground up fine like sugar. This granular pigment is then used to create oil paint, acrylics, watercolors and pastels.

for artists

Charvin Earth Colors
Yellow Ochre, Raw Siena, Transparent Yellow Ochre, Pouzzoles Red, Aubere Pink,
Raw Umber,  Savana, Green Shell, Deep Celadon Green

pastel palette
One tray of pastels with a color chart.

Here is a section of my pastel palette with one of my color charts. Which palette would you say this is?

HINT  There may be more than one right answer!

Which Palette are YOU?

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I see y’all are voting heavily for the Jewel Tone Palette! Me too! However, there’s something I’ve discovered about balancing colors that requires all three. In doing my artist residencies in France and Italy, I’ve discovered a Color Fusion Palette that creates harmony.  Here’s an example.

Waking Dreams IV
Waking Dreams IV, oil

Can you see the difference between Waking Dreams IV and Blooming? Waking Dreams incorporates all three palettes. Learn more about my Color Fusion Palette in my Awakening Hearts Series and how you can use it in your home to create wellness, serenity, and vitality.

Expressionist Realism Pastels

People have often asked me, “what is your painting style?” For many years I resisted answering. I didn’t want to pigeon hole myself. Whenever someone asked, I could feel myself wiggling inside to get loose of the question, as if it was meant to entrap me!

This week I found the answer quite unexpectedly.

Expressionist Realism.

Jackson Pollock painting
Jackson Pollock’s paintings were an exploration of creative energy. While they appear like random splashes at first, the whole reflects the energy of the artist’s body and heart movement.

I am fully aware that these two terms are thought to be opposites! When you think of Expressionism, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko immediately pop to mind. Pollock with his larger than life calligraphy and Rothko with his color field paintings.

Mark Rothko painting
Mark Rothko’s paintings explore the juxtaposition of color energies.

Realism? Neither Pollock nor Rothko fit in the sentence. Realism conjures up photo-realistically, meticulously-painted images without any brush strokes. While Realism was first called such in the mid-1800s, an wonderful example of contemporary realism is Robert Neffson’s painting, Grand Central.

Neffson photo realism painting
Neffson’s paintings explores the genre of contemporary realism, taking what began in the early 1800s to new depth.

While I have enjoyed these artists paintings, I clearly am not either style. I have always been a colorist. And certainly my energetic calligraphic brushwork is an integral part of my paintings. It never occurred to me that my style is a hybrid, Expressionist Realism. That is, until this week.

When I picked my pastels back up, I had no intention of returning to large scale painting with pastel ~ much less coming home to my own distinct style. But once I did the tulip painting, I couldn’t help myself!

abstract floral painting
Lamb’s Ear & Poppies, pastel, 40 x 30

Abandoned in my stack of unfinished pastel works ten years ago, this painting helped fuse my heart-felt calligraphy and color field work together. Pulling it out of storage, the colors felt dead tired. I put her on the big easel and let her breathe for a few days. Still the colors felt heavy. I didn’t see much point in reworking it. I let her stay in the studio beside me nonetheless.

This week as I was painting something else, I caught a flash of bright sunny yellows in the field beyond the garden. Intrigued I moved the panel, a 40 x 30″ hand-gessoed marble-dust rag board, to my pastel easel by the window.  What can it hurt to try?, I thought.

expressionist realism
detail flash of yellow light, pastel

Did I know I was on a bridge between Expressionism and Realism?


I simply grabbed for the flash and cut Deep Cadmium Yellow pigment into the field behind the lamb’s ear. This muted the too-dark red poppy. Encouraged I continued took another step.

abstract floral painting
detail, Lambs Ear & Poppies

Warm and cool yellows alternating, lit the space behind the garden. Lavender brought life into the shadowed leaves. Finally pink cheeks on the lamb’s ear blossoms opened them softly, against the sunny disposition of the renewed field.

Finally, I saw them. Bright red poppies blooming in the foreground. I roughed them in. They shifted the eye to the left column, counter-balancing the sunny backdrop.

The thing about Expressionism and Realism didn’t hit me right away. Full expression, heart and soul, IS the only reality that is true and right. Each of us has a purpose in this life. Expressing who we are, fulfilling our purpose is the only reality that ultimately matters.

Why have I invested so much time and energy in searching for reality anywhere else?

Are you searching for your own creative outlet? Download my book, Discovering Joy’s Garden

Tuscan Landscape Oil & Pastel

This Tuscan landscape oil painting and pastel study is finally complete. I began the oil this past winter. Along the way, I did the pastel to help resolve several issues that came up in the painting. Coming home to pastel completed the connection between drawing and painting, head and heart.

Tuscan Landscape Oil Painting

Tuscan landscape painting
Volpaia Village, oil, 20 x 24

The pastel palette is hundreds of colors pre-mixed, laid out where I can see them. In a flash, I can grab one and thrust what ever I am feeling at the moment onto the page.

Pastel Palette Schmincke
Tray of warm tone pastels.

The oil palette has an infinite number of colors ~ waiting to be mixed! Stop and think, which color do I want? How to mix it?

After all these years of painting, how to mix it is not an issue. Yet ~ the spontaneity of pre-mixed suggestions on my pastel palette is as powerful a force as ever. I received my first set of 45 sticks when I was 12.

After graduating college I began painting in pastel exclusively. The heart connection is immediate. Holding a large chunk of pigment in hand, the wavelength touches the heart directly. No detours through the head. Emotion channeled directly onto the painting.

Spilling one’s guts is healing. Though not acceptable in society as a rule, saying exactly what is in the heart moves mountains. A piece of paper and a few pieces of raw pigment seems a safe place to let loose.

The problem I was having in the oil painting was that there were so many objects (houses, trees, lines, colors) in the painting, I got lost from what inspired me to paint it in the first place. This is a very common problem.

Instead of spinning wheels with oil paint, a small pastel study addresses the issue. Unify the palette, pull the shapes together as a unit, and return to the source of inspiration. Pray it turns out, literally!