Friday, February 1, 2013

Analyzing the color choices of Edmund Dulac

French illustrator Edmund Dulac (1882 –1953) was a well known for his rich and detailed children’s book illustrations. One of my favorite things about Dulac is his use of color. Many of his watercolor illustrations show scenes in low light (night, twilight, or perhaps indoor scenes) but with bright flashes of color somewhere in the scene. He seemed to prefer cool colors for his palette, using only a limited number of warm colors for emphasis. (See how the scarlet stands out in the illustration below.)

Edmund Dulac illustration from
"The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam"
I thought it might be fun to hypothesize on which watercolor paints I have right now that could be used to reproduce the colors in his paintings.

Here’s the list that I came up with:

Winsor yellow (WN - Winsor Newton), Lemon Yellow (DS - Daniel Smith), French Ochre (DS), Quin. Burnt Orange (DS), Scarlett Lake (WN), Alizarin Crimson (DS), Rose Madder Genuine (DS), Prussian Blue (DS), Mayan Blue Dark (DS), Cobalt Blue (DS), Manganese Blue Hue (DS), Ultramarine Turquoise (DS), Phthalo Green (DS), and Bohemian Green Earth (DS).

Edmund Dulac "The Queen of Sheba"

As seen in the above illustration, Dulac also occasionally uses a very bright, cool blue-violet in his paintings to wonderful affect. You can see how lovely this color looks when placed next to the scarlet. Although I think I could mix this color using Prussian Blue and Alizarin Crimson, it might be easier to just add Cobalt Blue Violet (DS) to my palette instead. (Cobalt Blue Violet is about the same brightness and temperature as the violet-blue he was using.)

Although I’m certain Dulac did not have all of these particular colors in his palette (Mayan Blue Dark being a new Daniel Smith color for instance),
I think I can get pretty close using the colors I've outlined here. We’ll see!


Here's a picture of the palette colors mentioned above. I think they look pretty harmonious, although the true test will be when I start painting with them. Stay tuned...
My version of the Dulac palette

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