Thursday, February 28, 2019

Calling the Dog’s Palette

The colored pencils I use most. At left is a full-length Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle shown for comparison.

There’s a concept for making decisions called “calling the dog.” I am unclear as to its origin, but apparently it’s a fable about two people who both claimed a dog as their own. They both called to it, and let the dog choose. Applied to real-life situations, the concept is that if you are trying to choose among a few things, and evaluating their attributes has caused confusion, you stop analyzing and just look at which one you tend to go to intuitively. In other words, you are the dog, and you “choose” the one that calls to you in some way.

Recently, I was going through a mug in which I store “shorties” – the pencils that are getting too short to comfortably carry in my Tran Portfolio Pencil Case (when they get pushed down near the elastic, they’re difficult to pull out quickly). The photo above includes some multiples of colors I use especially often. I don’t waste the shorties, of course – I just retire them from my daily-carry bag and use them in the studio. But looking at the pencils that I use most often made me realize that a color palette has been made for me by calling the dog.

With duplicates and near-duplicates eliminated, the palette is shown below. The mid-tone green is an unessential convenience, but the other six are a strong palette of the hues I use most in an urban environment. If I added sky blue (not often used in overcast Seattle, but essential on the occasions when I do need it), those seven pencils would probably cover 90 percent of my sketching needs. While I’d feel uneasy going out with nothing but a secondary triad or even a primary triad palette, I think I’d be perfectly confident with this dog-called palette for everyday use. And with colored pencils, my dog palette makes more practical sense than a primary palette, which is based on paints that can be mixed much more quickly than pencil pigments.

My palette called by the dog.















All this palette needs are the few other essential items from my idealized pencil box sketch kit – a graphite pencil, a brush pen, a waterbrush, an eraser and a sharpener – and the vast majority of my sketching needs would be met. I may be on to something. . . what do you think?

6 comments:

  1. I love the instinctiveness of this approach.

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  2. Your go to colors really do create a nice palette!

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    Replies
    1. It's funny that I've never looked at these pencils together this way before!

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  3. I do something similar with my location watercolor palette. It uses half-pans that are removable. I check it every once in a while and evaluate any pan that hasn't been used in a while, removing it if I find I don't need it.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah -- good way to carry only what's essential!

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