Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mixing Neutral and Semi-neutral Colours - Part II of a Series.

Link to Part I
Looking at the colours I recommended as a basic selection in my earlier post and using the standard colour wheel:
Our primary colours are:

1.Cadmium Yellow Light (Lemon Yellow)
5.Permanent Rose
9.Thalocyanine Blue

Our secondary colours are:

3.Cadmium Scarlet (Cadmium Orange mixed 50:50 with Cadmium Red)
7.Permanent Mauve (or Ultramarine Violet)
11.Viridian Green

And our tertiary colours are:

2.Cadmium Orange
4.Cadmium Red
6.Permanent Magenta (Ultramarine Violet)
8.Ultramarine Blue
10.Turquoise Blue (Viridian Green and Thalocyanine Blue mixed 50:50)
12.Permanent Green Light

These twelve colours numbered 1 to 12 above are equidistant around the colour wheel.

Okay - now we have a rough idea of what is in our palette. But looking around you and observing nature, unless you are looking at a bright field of flowers you will most likely notice that colours seem to be harder to define. Just what is that particular shade, hmmm , looks like some sort of grey. How do I mix that then? Not on the colour wheel? How can I find that then? We must go back to our colour wheel.

Complementary Colours: We can pair our 12 colours above as follows:

1 with 7
2 with 8
3 with 9
4 with 10
5 with 11
6 with 12

Each of these pairs are what are know as complementary pairs. As you mix the pure colours they will appear to grey out. When mixed evenly each pair will form a perfect neutral. The neutrals are natural looking and not muddy. They are "clean" and look well in paintings. When the mix leans more towards one of the pair we have semi neutral colours created. These are very beautiful colours and greatly enhance the range available to the artist. Practice at mixing helps in developing a feel for how to achieve a certain semi neutral or neutral.

Choice of which pair to mix to get a neutral?

We can help achieve colour harmony in our paintings by choosing to mix our neutral from the complementary colours which are already in the painting. For instance, if the painting is using cadmium red and blue/greens, we can choose 4. cadmium red with 10. Turquoise. If the painting is predominantly yellow/green with hints of purple/blue we can use 1. cadmium yellow light with 7.mauve.

Thats it for today, I will add more at a later stage about using colour. I intend to keep adding to this series so keep coming back for updates, if you want to learn a lot about colour theory. Remember, understanding colour creates beautiful paintings. If you want to be inspired, check out the work of a favourite artist of mine over at the His name is Nicholas Verrall.

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