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Colour, Colour, Colour!

So, the long awaited post on colour! This is a big subject. I could spend ages myself just pondering colour and taking time to mix colour before I even start on a painting.

I didn't use to do that - I would be in too much of a hurry to get the painting out (as I often had limited time to paint - I would squeeze it into 1.5 - 2 hours max).. I would enjoy painting at speed and in some ways it worked really well. That maybe because I already had a gut level instict of what colours worked well and what feel I was going for. However, having done some courses with Louise Fletcher and also Nicholas wilton they gave me more to chew on in the way of being more mindful about my use of colour.

When I did the short course that Louise does called "Find your Joy taster".. I found out or realised that I actually really disliked using Sap Green! I would use it because it was the handy colour to go for, but I really found my reaction to it was quite strong - it made me feel a little off balance comapred to the other colours, so I paid attention to it. I do not use it very much now. That is a personal thing..

Having a basic understanding of the colour wheel that they teach in primary schools is helpful.. and for the best part of this blog post we will go with that RULE.. however, I hate to break it to you, its not entirely truthful.. I will post later about this.

Anyway, for mixing colour now let's just go with the primary colours concept of Red, Yellow, Blue as primaries and the use of white and black to change saturation.

Basic mixing involves taking a primary colour + another primary colour which makes a secondary colour. For example: red plus yellow = the colour inbetween each of those on the colour wheel = orange..

A combination of red and blue will make a blue/purple etc

One very handy tip I picked up from Nicholas in how to bring more harmony into colour mixing, is to use the "Mother" technique when mixing. Basically if you are using 3 colours in your palette Plus black and white, you will go ahead and mix a separate place on your palette with all 3 of those colours. We shall call this section on your palette THE MOTHER. Then, when you make any other colour mix, you add the teeniest amount of the "mother" to each colour. In doing this, you create a harmonious discussion between the colours and will help your painting be more interesting.

Here are some colour swatches I made and listed what ingreidents make each one up. This has come in handy when I did a commission of a sunset for someone. I scattered around the enlarged picture any swatches that matched or closely matched the colours in the photo. Then I didn't need to spend ages getting the colour mix just right - I had a 'dictionary' so to speak of what I needed.

They are also just fun to choose colours for an abstract painting and see what goes well together. I found you can get some extraordinary colours from mixing say black, white and yellow..... as black has a base of several colours in it already.

Here is some basic colour theory.. and then will follow the Truth about colour theory! Hold onto your hats!

This wheel you will be familiar with if you have a colour printer at home. You will notice your inkjet cartridges have Cian, Magenta, and Yellow plus black. From those, your computer will generate millions of colours within this wheel.

This is a bit "sciency" but don't be put off - its fascinating! Watch this video as Scott Explains : CMYK

Here he shows how to balance colours in your painting, getting harmony by using this wheel.

Nicholas has a free PDF on colour which is really helpful and generous of him. He explains more about how to balance your picture with your colour choices.

So, that is a lot of information, and I am still getting my head around this too. Whichever wheel you choose, mixing complemantary colours will bring down the saturation of a colour. It's best not to use just black and white to bring colous up or down. However with all that information, the best way to learn is have a go! See what happens when you mix colours. Register what you did in order to get them, and keep learning!

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