2016 Topic 14: Colour Mixing
Hi there, Ingrid here, sharing a few tips and tricks on colour mixing. Colour mixing can be a bit daunting, especially for beginners. There are many, many colour wheels, blog posts, books and other instructional material out there available for you to use, but until you actually give it a go and try it for yourself you will not get the hang of it. Practice makes perfect and in this case it is the only way you will learn once for all. There is a wonderful and very detailed blog post right here on the Paperartsy blog focused on the colour mixing written by Elizabeth Borer. Hat off to Elizabeth, she went into so much detail, there is no point me even going there again! I’m going to take a slightly different approach today and show you how it all works in practice and how you can create an abstract artwork with 5 of the wide range of Paperartsy Fresco Finish Chalk Paints.
I prepared a canvas to show you how you can use these 5 colours in practice.
Let’s start with the basic theory of colour mixing. We all love to say, ‘oh, I love the colours on your work’, but when you are referring to ‘colour’ there is more to it. For example, I love yellow. Do you know which yellow? There is more than one type of yellow. In fact, there are many. Let’s break it down a bit… There are a few aspects to consider when it comes to a COLOUR:
HUE which is a name of a particular colour so when you I say I like yellow colour, I really mean yellow hue.
VALUE which is a relative lightness or darkness of a colour. Imagine turning your photo into a black and white one. You will see anything from white and light grey to dark grey and black. The same applies to other hues. You can adjust value of any colour by adding white.
CHROMA (also recognised as INTENSITY or SATURATION) is the purity of a colour which determines its brightness or dullness. You can adjust chroma of a colour by adding white (adjusting tint), adding gray (adjusting tone) or by adding black (adjusting shade). How many of you say ‘this is too bright, I need to tone it down’… well, what you really mean is you need to adjust chroma (tint, tone or shade of the colour).
I don’t doubt that you have seen many colour wheels and it would be great for you to buy one. They are very handy. They are great if you are using true pigments also known as ‘artist paints’ where you can start with the three primaries, red, yellow and green and mix any colour you desire. But we’re not here to talk about those. So forget about the colour wheel for now, because PaperArtsy make it easy for you. They already mix and sell a huge variety of shades and tones of each colour that we really are spoilt for choice! You can find them all HERE. But what if… what if you don’t have any yet and don’t know which ones to buy first, but still wanted to use some in your artwork? I have a simple solution for you and today I want to show you how easy it is to mix your own neutral colours and various shades and tones by simply using 5 Paperarty paints. Three are very close to the three primaries, London Bus (red), Zesty Zing (yellow) and Blueberry (blue), and two are neutrals, Snowflake (white) and French Roast (grey).
Here’s a basic graph of how our three equivalents to the primaries mix:
It is easy to adjust the value by adding white to any colour. I added Snowflake to London Bus, as shown below. Or to adjust chroma by adding a little bit of a French Roast to London Bus (we’re onto some recipe here.
Now you learned the basics there is nothing stopping you. Just by mixing the three colours you already created all the colours you need for any artwork. Add more Snowflake to the neutrals you mixed up earlier and you can create skin tones. You can paint an entire landscape with rocks, mountains, grass, water, sky, flowers and anything that your imagination can produce just by following these basic rules or colour mixing. Is your colour too bright, add some French Roast. The trick is to add a tiny bit. Then more, if you need to. A little goes a long way. Is it now the right tone, but too dark? Add Snowflake to adjust value. If you keep practicing these basics you will be a pro in no time.
Trick: always keep a little bit of the originally mixed colour before you add another to it. Take a little bit from it and place next to it, then mix your white or whatever else into it. Why you ask… if your new mix doesn’t work out you have the original one to use or to use as a reference when mixing more. You can also compare the two and decide what works better for your artwork.
And so to my canvas:
I collaged various papers, fibres, card, strings, sand and art stones, crackle pastes etc onto my canvas using a Mod Podge, white gesso and then covered everything in white gesso. I also used my favourite, Paperartsy Grunge Paste, and stamped into it whilst still wet using the gorgeous journaling stamps by Sara Naumann – Eclectica 03. I let everything to dry over night to ensure the gesso or anything else I used wouldn’t interfere with my paint.
I decided on a colour scheme and started with a basic wash. My base colour was Blueberry. By adding Snowflake, I adjusted the lightness of this colour. I applied the darker by the art stones and lighter towards the middle of the canvas which on its own created dimension. I also mixed London Bus, Zesty Zing and a small dash of Blueberry to create a brown colour.
It was too warm and didn’t match my blue and grey background so I added more yellow to get an earthier look. It was too bright and needed to tone it down so I added French Roast and there it was. I was slightly diluting the colours as I went for an easy application. I needed another earthy, but slightly contrasting colour so I added a bit of French Roast to Zesty Zing and got a nice dull, almost grey yellow colour which was perfect as a source of light in my blue and grey artwork. It was a nice touch, but not too bright.
Once I was happy with the overall composition I highlighted everything with Snowflake. I dry-brushed it on which meant that only the raised areas were touched with the brush. I also added so white to the centre.
It was at this point when I was fairly satisfied with the overall look, but it needed a contrasting colour to create focal points or shall I say, areas of interest. I mixed London Bus and Zesty Zing to create orange. You probably know that orange and blue are complementary colours. They complement each other meaning, they are creating an aesthetically pleasing colour contrast, they create a harmony. This is why we group them into Harmonious Colour Schemes. Monochromatic and Analogous colours also belong to this group. There are other key points to colour relationships, but I won’t go into this as this post would be very long.
So now I had my lovely and bright orange it needed to be ‘toned down’. You guessed it, I added a tiny bit of French Roast. And then a bit more and did this until I had my perfect dull orange, almost a colour of a rust. I applied the first coat of this colour to the ridged areas of my canvas and lightly touched here and there, this time with a palette knife. By using the palette knife I was safe in knowing only the raised areas would be covered and I wouldn’t get paint where I didn’t want it. I then used this very dull orange colour and added a bit of Zesty Zing. I adjusted the brightness and saturation again! I applied with a palette knife over exactly the same areas. Then I repeated this step until I had a gradient from darker dull orange until a bright light orange. That was fun!
I hope you find my post useful as well as encouraging to experiment with colour mixing. You never know what you might discover! ;)
Stay creative! All the best,
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Wow Ingrid, this is fabulous in its simplicity. We all know though that sometimes what appears minimal does in fact have a lot of work and layers involved, not to mention the careful thought and attention to colours and placement. Thankyou for all your hints and tips on mixing, this can be a confusing subject but you have shown how a stunning piece can be achieved with very few colours.
We would love to see how you interpret this Colour Mixing topic by linking what you make to our 2016 Challenge #14: Colour Mixing, on this page HERE.
All of our bloggers love to see your twist on their ideas, particularly if you were inspired directly by their post.
All links go in the draw to win a £50 voucher to spend on products of your choice from the PaperArtsy online store. The Colour Mixing link will close 17:00 (London Time) Sunday, Aug 7th 2016. The winner will be announced 2 hours later at 19:00.