Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Emile Gruppe's Palette

Here's one of Emile Gruppe's original palettes. I conduct a plein air class to Rockport and Gloucester every year (Gunderson's Plein Air Rockport Workshop) and we always stop by Robert Gruppe's studio in Rocky neck to visit- a kind of a plein air artist's pilgramage of sorts. Robert is Emile's son and continues the Gruppe legacy in the studio that was his father's, replete with his and Emile's work. The studio on Rocky Neck has that special ambiance that is an inspiration to the plein air artist and is a must see for any artist visiting the area.. Jennifer Gruppe( Bob's wife) was kind enough to let me photograph Emile's palette which Emile had subsequently turned into a clock. Here one can see how the palette is organized- Cadmium Lemon Yellow at 2:00 and counterclockwise through Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Deep, Rose Madder Deep, Ultramarine Blue, Zinc White ( at 6:00), and Pthalo Blue at 5:00. Also notice that Gruppe inserts Phthalo blue again next to the Cad Lemon Yellow at roughly 1:00 to facilitate the making of cool spring greens and the emulation of a high cool blue greens with a touch of white.

Emile Guppe's palette was idealy chosen to enable the swift color mixing required by his on site plein-aire technique.These colors gave him the highest vibrational chroma avaiable in pigment so as to facilatate his technique of mixing optical grays with complimentaries. Working rather large,( his canvases averqge a standard 18" x 24"), and using a relatively small palette necessitated by his traveling paint box gear, much color mixing was done right on the canvas as he calibrated value and chroma through a approximated cancelling technique. Each color has what is known as an antogonist, i.e., a symmetrical equivalent complimentary across the axis of the color wheel which cancels out the cromatic intensity and/ or value of the color, Gruppe could mentally gauge the antagonist of a chosen color area on his canvas and then"cancel out" the color to the degree of intensity and value he wanted simply by mixing that color into the color already on his canvas. This allowed him to mix "on the canvas" rather than take up valuable real estate on his palette usually reserved for tint mixtures( a color mixed with white) which could easily be contaminated by his powerful dark mixtures.
A list of Gruppé's colors from the book Gruppé on Painting. They are as follows:

Cadmium Lemon Yellow

Cadmium Yellow Deep

Cadmium Orange (added to the palette for convenience)

Cadmium Red Deep

Ultramarine Blue

Phthalo Blue

Rose Madder Deep

Zinc White

Each of the colors on his palette has only two of the three primaries.

Ultramarine Blue has red and blue

Phthalo Blue has red and blue

Cadmium red deep has red and yellow

Rose Madder has red and blue

Cadmium Lemon Yellow has yellow and blue

Cadmium Yellow Deep has red and yellow

Therefore, the purest green you can mix with this palette is Phthalo Blue and Cad. Lemon Yellow, because it has no red, which is the complement of green and would gray (the mixture) down. If I don't want my green to be that pure I use the Ultramarine or the Cadmium Yellow which have a little bit of red, and the color is not quite so pure.

In Gruppe's own words from Gruppe on Color with Charles Movalli, Watson-Guptill 1979:

On the Purity of Color:

"I also paint with pure colors. That means that each of the colors on my palette has only two of the three primaries in it. ( All the three primaries together in the same color would gray it.) Cadmium red deep, for example, has red and yellow, while rose madder has red and blue. Lemon yellow has a touch of blue- that;s why it looks greenish. Cadmium yellow deep has red in it and it tends a bit toward orange. Ultramarine blue has blue and red in it; phthalo blue has blue and yellow. We’ve already noticed the presence of all three primaries in a mix will gray the color. In order to fully understand how clean and pure my colors are, we’ve only to compare them to pigments in which all three primaries are thoroughly mixed; namely the ochres, siennas, umbers, and black. Such colors are always heavy and lifeless."

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