I wish I could say that I was extremely experienced with the DuMond palette, but in truth, I am not. I have never painted using this philosophy of color, nor have I ever even mixed this palette in its entirety. However, in the context of my previous posts, and my concentration on artistic legacies and unique palettes, I feel it is important to introduce this topic now. I only hope that other artists more experienced with this method than am I will add their knowledge to the outline I provide here.
Frank Vincent DuMond (1865 - 1951), was an American illustrator and impressionist painter,
who, despite his talent and success, will probably best be remembered as a teacher, a distinction of which he would likely be very proud. After studying at the Art Students League of New York
City and then at the Académie Julian under Benjamin Constant, Gustave Boulanger, and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, DuMond went on to become one of America's greatest art instructors. During his nearly sixty years of teaching at the League, and at the League's Lyme Summer School in Connecticut, his students included the likes of Georgia O'Keefe, Norman Rockwell, Frank Mason, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Arthur Maynard, and Frank Reilly.
DuMond's innovation in his impressionistic painting, and in his teaching of painting, was the Prismatic Palette. Unlike those artists today who consider their palettes to be prismatic just because they employ a full range of colors, DuMond actually based his color layout on the prism, and on the visual perception of color in atmospheric perspective. In other words, his palette represented the three dimensional model of lightwaves in perspective, laid out with the understanding that yellow, orange, and red are predominant in close objects, while blue and violet have a stronger influence on distant objects.
The representation below, though poor, shows DuMond's universal principles of the Prismatic Palette. It is very logically laid out, with the top row containing the colors of the spectrum, the second row contains grays to neutralize colors as they recede, the third row blues (cobalt blue + white) in corresponding values, and the final row, a variety of mixed greens (primarily cadmium yellow light and ultramarine blue). The greens in the final row have been shifted according to atmospheric color [the green on the left contains the most yellow, while the green at the darkest value contains the most red and red-blue].
Paintings are begun with the middle values (around the value of cadmium red from the tube), and from there, color is adjusted according to the relative atmosphere as you move forward or backward in the picture plane. Light goes toward shadow from yellow to red to violet on the warm side, and from yellow to green to blue green to violet on the cool side. As colors recede, they contain less yellow.
It is obvious to see where Frank J. Reilly got the inspiration for his own palette, though he modified his choices based primarily on indoor portraiture and on the guiding principles of Munsell's color notation. Reilly must have absorbed the logical approach in DuMond's prismatic color control, and saw another, more personal use for its utilization.
John Phillip Osborne
Although Reilly's palette seems better known, DuMond's palette is still taught and used by a variety of artists today. Arthur Maynard (1920-1991), another student of DuMond, taught the prismatic palette at the Art Students League for several years before going on to found the Ridgewood Art Institute ("The Barn"), in Ridgewood, NJ, where he continued to instruct students in the use of DuMond's color control system for 41 years. Maynard's students, like John Phillip Osborne, continue to teach the system at RAI, as do some of his students, such as Diana Gibson.
I invite any and all who can correct my information or add to it, to please leave comments on this post, for my own education and for any others who might come across it.