Color is one of the most important elements of a painting. It is what we tend to notice first and can help convey depth, form, and emotion in a painting. Understanding how color works and which colors go well together can make a big difference in your painting.
Sometimes, though, we painters can get in a color rut - we keep using the same color palette in all our paintings. While this can be useful in creating a unified body of work and having people recognize our paintings, using the same color palette can also become boring. Other times we may be having trouble figuring out the right color for a certain area of a painting, trying different colors only to have to wipe them off or paint over them.
When either of these happens it can be very helpful to pick up your old art books or go online to look at the artwork of the masters, paintings that are successful and in which the colors already work. Looking at the use of color in these paintings can help solve a problem in one of your own paintings, or open up a new range of colors that you might want to use.
Whether you work with local color (realistic color independent of light and shadow), perceived color (what the artist actually sees), or imaginary color (color used expressionistically), looking at the color palettes that other artists have used can help you find a solution to your own color dilemma.
Here are some sites that have identified the colors that some famous artists have used in their well-known paintings. The sites have used computer algorithms to identify the predominant colors in the paintings.
From these computerized palettes you will see that many paintings are done with a very limited palette (a palette with only a few colors). You do not need every color in your paintbox in order to create a successful painting. In fact, working with fewer colors will help create unity in your painting.
Using the computer as an aid for painting is not taboo. Rather think of it as just another tool to help you express your vision and create meaningful artwork.