I have been thinking about colour mixing lately. I am trying to be more systematic with it, because my nature is quite slap dash. That’s close enough, I’m going with my gut instinct (i.e. being lazy!) ~ they’re the phrases that go through my head.
Then I read Jane Blundell’s blog and see all the fantastic experiments she does with so many different brands of paints, and I want to be systematic like her! I looked at Shevaun Doherty’s Instagram post where she identified a huge range of colours in her divine lavender, and I want to see colours like she does! But I know I never will be like that.
However, I can try to understand colour, and I can be far more systematic in thinking about colour before I start to paint.
Colour is a very interesting, but complex topic. There are many things to think about and it would be easy, for someone else 🙂 to overthink it. Overthinking colour is not my problem! (See the first paragraph.) YouTube is over endowed with videos about the colour wheel, how to mix colours, instructional videos and so on. However, I recently found Robert Gamblin’s videos. He is an oil painter and has a company that produces oil paints in America.
His series of videos that have really helped me understand the colour wheel because his colour wheel is 3D, instead of the usual 2D ones. That allows him to explain tones, hues, chromatic intensity etc while demonstrating it visually on his wheel. He calls it “Navigating colour space”. He also uses his 3D model to explain why the palettes of the Old Masters (Rembrandt etc), the Impressionists (Monet, Renoir etc) and modern painters are so different. Worth a look if you are interested in understanding more about colour.
There are three videos to be watched in order.
What did you think of the videos? Do you have any recommendations for me to watch or websites that are useful?
I left the workshop on Tuesday feeling satisfied. I had battled with my painting, and to honest, it won. However I learnt a great deal and was looking forward to two more days of sitting and painting. The only problem was that Helen had mentioned roses for Day 2.
During day 1 of the workshop Helen Burrows took us through tone and grey scales. Day 2 was to be hue and colour bias.
As I mentioned before, I can see tone fairly easily. However, colour confuses me. I was a long time into my artistic learning before I was confident to use colour. While I can mix a colour reasonably accurately, my use of colour always seemed a bit hit and miss. Now I understand that my problem was that I had missed out on a basic concept — the colour wheel.
A colour wheel explains bias in colour. There are 3 primary colours ~ red, blue and yellow. Everyone knows that! But the primary colours that we have in our paint tubes are not pure. They have a bias towards the secondary colours of green, orange and purple. This is why, at times we wonder whether a yellow is yellow or green, or why a blue can also look purplish. It is important to know the bias of your paints. You can make your painting sing by using the right colours, by thinking about 3 “rules”. When you don’t take bias into account you end up with an uninteresting mix as the colours compete, often neutralising each other.
I have create a very rough colour wheel, using coloured pencils but it will help illustrate the rules.
Rule 1: Family is always welcome. They are the other colours/hues around it. However, you need to bear in mind the bias of the colour. For example, is your blue a green blue or has it a bias to purple? If to the green, then the hues of your colour will be somewhere in the greeny blues. It is to those hues that you will look to mix your paint.
Rule 2: Next door neighbours are friends So a colour only a little away from the one you want will work harmoniously. Blue/green. Yellow/orange etc.
Rule 3: Opposites attract. These are the colours opposite each other on the colour wheel. Purple/yellow. Blue/orange. Green/red. They are the ones that can add zing and depth to your work. Think about a blue room with accents of terracotta (orange). Interestingly (well, to me, anyway!) to make a colour darker you add its complimentary colour. Want a darker green? Add red.
So, Helen took us through colour bias and wheels and hues. I came away with a much stronger understanding. Yay! Then to our roses. Maybe not so Yay!
Roses are complex. Their shapes are complex; their colours and hues are complex. They are for Grown Up Painters. But Helen wasn’t letting me get away with that mind set! And I wasn’t letting me get away with any more tantrums. So with my colours mixed and my hue scales done (sort of), I settled down to draw and then paint the rose bud. This is what I ended up with 🙂 . I think it looks like a flouncy fish….but I am happy with what I learnt.
The original drawing was not accurate. That meant that I got lost in the drawing, not sure at times of where the lights, darks and mid~tones were. Lesson 1~make your original drawing as accurate as possible.
I could see the highlights and darks, and managed to get most of those down in the washes. Lesson 2~be very careful of your highlights. Unlike oils and acrylics, where you add white paint to make a highlight, watercolour relies on the white of the paper. Many a cry of anguish has been heard from a watercolour painter who has mistakenly painted over her white paper!
I think I was getting the mid-tones. Lesson 3~remember that the mid-tone in paint is the middle section of hue scale.
And lastly I did my usual trick of getting carried away in one area, one petal, putting in all the lovely detail. Lesson 4~remember to work over the whole, to compare tone and hue to the overall. Detail comes later.
So it wasn’t a perfect rose ~ or even a perfect fish! But I had fun. I played, and learnt so much through playing.
[If you are interested in finding out more Windsor and Newton have a really interesting article here. It will give you more detailed information. Maybe more accurate too!]