the atelier | working with a limited palette

by | Apr 22, 2021 | Art, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting, Watercolors | 27 comments

Through February and March, I was working on creating and filming and it is now open for preregistration!  The course is The Atelier | Creating with a Limited Palette.

Here is what Jeanne Oliver says about the course…

And this is the synopsis I wrote for the course…

In this class, Marian Parsons, a paint enthusiast and lover of color, will show you how to mix beautiful shades for landscapes, still lifes, and portraits with just four colors. Together, we’ll create color studies, sketches, and finished, frameable works in several paint mediums – oils, water-soluble oils, acrylics, and watercolors/gouache to discover harmony in your work when transitioning from one medium to another (or working in your favorite mediums.) This class is about the discovery and exploration of mediums and limited colors to include in your palette for the purpose of clarifying your aesthetic as an artist.

Techniques Taught in this Course

  • Introduction to color theory
  • Learn to mix colors with confidence
  • Understand how your color palette informs the style of your art
  • Create color wheels in different mediums with a limited palette
  • Explore your color palette in an art journal with sketches and studies
  • Paint watercolor landscape studies
  • Complete landscape studies in acrylics
  • Learn to mix natural greens and beautiful sky blues
  • Paint a still life in water-soluble oils
  • Establish your drawing, composition, and values with an underpainting
  • Use oil paints to finish a portrait study, learning how to mix flesh tones
  • Explore the palette you’re drawn to

And this is a robust course with over 7 hours of instruction!  It was supposed to be about four hours, but I just kept adding things in… Well, while we have our paints out, let’s land a little landscape study.  Before we dive into the portrait, let’s do a little color study.  

the atelier | creating with a limited palette | art course | miss mustard seed

The idea for the course came out of my realization that I kept going into the same piles of color over and over again, no matter what medium I was using.  There are so many advantages to using a limited palette – your work is more cohesive and harmonious, it’s easier to test out different mediums when you only need to purchase a few colors, and it’s easier to travel with your paints.  It also really forces you to learn color mixing in practice, not just theory.  It’s amazing how many colors you can create from just four colors plus white.

the atelier | creating with a limited palette | art course | miss mustard seed

And to show how versatile the limited palette I use is, I wanted to paint different subjects.  So, in the class, we paint landscapes, still life, and a portrait.

the atelier | creating with a limited palette | art course | miss mustard seed

And we work in four different mediums – watercolor & gouache, acrylic, water-mixable oils, and oils.

the atelier | creating with a limited palette | art course | miss mustard seed

As our finale, we paint a study of Manet’s portrait of Berte Morisot.  I selected this painting because it’s perfect for our palette, it’s a wonderful example of an impressionist portrait, and it’s a great way to study subtle shifts in color.

the atelier | creating with a limited palette | art course | miss mustard seed

It was such a fun class to put together and I can’t wait for it to go live, so I can start to see all of the work from participants!

A few answers to FAQs I’ve been asked…

Can I go at my own pace and how long will I have access to the course?  

This is a pre-recorded course, so you can go at your own pace and your access to the content doesn’t expire.

Is this course good for beginners?  

Yes, this course is good for absolute beginners and for people who are at an intermediate level and want to explore other mediums, subjects, or a limited palette.  In addition, I will be available on a private Facebook group for course participants, so I can answer questions and provide critiques.

the atelier | creating with a limited palette | art course | miss mustard seed

What if I don’t want to use all of the mediums you use in the course?  

That is totally okay!  Use the mediums you have and/or those you want to explore.  I would suggest using watercolors (since their behavior is so unique) and at least one other paint, but you can really do whatever you want.  We’re focusing much more on the colors than the mediums.  If you have questions about mediums in the forum, I can point you in the right direction of which medium is a good alternative for which project.

You can pre-register for the class HERE at the price of $42 until May 19, 2021, and then the price increases to $65.

Do you have any other questions?


  1. Morgane

    that sounds like a fun class. Will you also use your van Gogh inspired paintings? I really liked those.
    I have previously taken a few courses through Jeanne Oliver’s website.

    • Marian Parsons

      I did not include the VanGogh studies in this class, but I’ve been asked about those a lot, so I’ll probably offer a separate shorter class on my own site.

  2. Jo

    Dear Marian, I am looking forward to the art classes! I loved the Gold Finch art class!

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I’m so glad!

  3. Dana C

    Hi Marian
    Is that the complete price for the course? Or is that just the registration fee?
    Sorry, I’m confused.
    Also, do you provide a suggested list of materials before the course begins?
    Thank you.

    • Marian Parsons

      That is the complete price for the course for those who purchase it before May 19 (during the pre-registration period.) The higher price is after May 19. It’s basically an early bird discount, but you get access to all of the same content. And yes, there is a full materials list with links that you can access before signing up for the course or before the course begins. Just follow the link in my post to the purchase page. And, please remember, you don’t have to buy everything!

  4. Sandi O'Connor

    I’ve signed up! So excited to start, will I receive an email with specific instructions for the course?

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, you should receive a confirmation e-mail from Jeanne Oliver.

  5. Tina Decker

    Hi Marian!!
    First I want to say that I am a lover of your art and style and have a few of your paintings. I am an artist myself, mostly self taught. My medium of choice is watercolor and I teach a small workshop at the boutique store that I am in. ( level I & II- 5 weeks each) I’m newer to oil but I absolutely love it!! Even though I have a lot of experience I will always consider myself a student of art. There is always more to learn and others to inspire you. I would love to join your class!

    • Marian Parsons

      I agree! I think I’ll be taking art classes for the rest of my life. There will always be something new to learn.

  6. Teri

    I’m so excited to do this course! I’m hoping to grow in my skills from such a great teacher! Thank you Marian!

  7. Pam Kern

    Marian, I preregistered as soon as I saw this on Jean Oliver’s site. So excited for this class.
    Thank you for sharing one of your many talents.

  8. Carol Sapp

    I’m in! Thank you Marian!

  9. Sheri

    Marian if we aren’t on Facebook will it still work? I see it’s a private Facebook group but I’m not on FB.

    • Rita

      I don’t have Facebook either and wondered the same.

    • Marian Parsons

      The course itself is not on Facebook, but on Jeanne Oliver’s site. There is also a forum on Jeanne Oliver’s site where you can ask questions and engage with other participants. I know from experience, though, that most people hang out on the Facebook forum. You’ll still have complete access to all of the videos, materials, etc. of the course.

  10. Sherry

    Hi, Marian! I’m a big fan and have followed you for several years. I am so looking forward to this course; I actually registered through Jeanne’s site as soon as I received her email. Can hardly wait!

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, wonderful!!

  11. Jennifer

    Hi Marian, I am having trouble finding the supply list for the course. I already signed up and was on the website but just not finding it for some reason. I’m sure I’m just missing it, but I could use some direction. Thank you!

  12. Jennifer

    Hi again! I was looking for the supply list and did find it finally:). Now I have a question about the supplies-are you going to be more specific as far as the supplies go as we get closer to the class starting? I have been looking up brushes and paper and am finding lots of choices-such as the Chungking brushes, and different size Arches oil paper. Will you be specifying the sizes later? Sorry for all of the questions-I am a total beginner and am totally unfamiliar with the supplies used.

    • Marian Parsons

      Jennifer, I’m so glad you’re taking the class, and welcome to the overwhelming world of artist brushes! The tricky thing is that the sizes are not standard and the bristle shapes and textures aren’t even the same. Brushes are also very personal. Some people like very smooth brushes and others like scrappy brushes that leave a lot of texture. I linked to the brushes I use and, since 9 x 12 is the largest we work, you don’t need huge brushes. In the chunking brushes (or a hog’s bristle), I would get a 2, 4, 6, or a combination like that, so you have a little bit of variation. In the course, I do a video walk-through of the supplies, so you can see the specific ones that I use and purchase the same or something similar.

      As far as the Arches Oil Paper, it does come in two different sizes, but the paper is the same. I usually buy the 9 x 12 pad and cut it down.

  13. Kt

    If I register, how long do I have access to materials/lessons? Working full time with little kids, I really don’t have a lot free time to do lessons. Is it at my own pace? Does my access to lessons disappear after like 2 months? Do I have access for forever so I can retake them later?

    • Kt

      Sorry, I read that my questions were answered!

  14. Dalita (thekeepingcottage)

    I consider myself an intermediate artist and can’t imagine I’ll ever see myself as “advanced.” I do take commissions and have sold probably 20-25 painting in oil, acrylic, and most recently watercolor. I love a limited palette, but still feel I’m spending a great deal of time mixing and adjusting those colors with each painting (never sure what will work and therefore, wasting a lot of time). I would love to take your course. Do you think I could benefit from it?

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, certainly! I think we benefit from learning how other paint, mix, etc. no matter how advanced we are. As you said, there is always more to learn when it comes to art. I’m sure I’ll be taking classes the rest of my life.

      • Dalita

        TRUTH! Thanks for responding. I’m looking forward to it!!!

  15. Krista

    I have signed up for the course! I am really excited. The part that made me think “this is the one” is the fact that you are teaching us with such a limited palette. I love the colours you chose! I have not *really* painted before and times that I have tried to begin, I found myself overthinking all the colour options out there. So this will be perfect.


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

Let's Connect


Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!

decorating, projects, and recipes for Summer

  • mexican lasagna bake aka burrito cake recipe
    I love recipes that are…quick to make, can be made in one pot, are easy to adjust to different food preferences, and are delicious!  Such is the case with this […]
  • the best strawberry rhubarb crisp
    We have an absolutely wonderful next-door neighbor.  She has blown snow out of our driveway when Jeff was unable to, she has saved Calvin’s bike from sitting out on the […]
  • decorating with shells
    As I collected shells at the beach this spring, the question I was asked most often is, “What do you do with them?”  And I get that question!  When we […]
  • Isle of Palms 2022
    I thought I would share a little bit more about our time at Isle of Palms this year.  If you’d like to read about our trip last year and the […]


Articles by Date


our sponsors



Bliss and Tell Branding Company


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This