Colour in Art

It is surprising when you look closely what colours there are around us. It is fascinating. The many hues of greens in the leaves of a plant to the purples, blues, browns and greens in rivers. When you stop and look, you will be amazed at what you see.

Colour mixing is such a fun activity. I challenge myself at least a couple of days a week to create colours from nature, objects, reference photographs and colour swatch cards from DIY stores. Well I have to admit's been more than a couple of days a week. It's been slightly addictive...colour mixing for breakfast has happened. Why not! You only live once.

I have a sketchbook dedicated to colour mixing, noting down what I discover. Best of all, it's there to refer to when I am painting or when a client is trying to make a colour.

I can't emphasis this enough; understanding the colour wheel is so important. Once you have grasped it in-depth, colour mixing comes quickly and easy.

Furthermore, understanding the brand you are using will help too. I use a top end paint known as Golden. The clients use System 3 from Daler Rowney. Some (not all) of the colours are different in some respect and I spend time studying the two and their properties.

Here are some ideas to help you, a child or your class with colour mixing:

  • Study the colour wheel / teach the colour wheel.

  • Spend that extra time looking in-depth when you are studying your reference photograph, object or colour card. How many different colours can you see? Are there reflections affecting colours, such as the clear sky reflecting blue onto the bird or trees reflecting in the river?

  • Have a reference image or an artist's painting and see if you / the children can match the colours through colour mixing. Record through colour swatches in your sketchbook.

  • Greys are not just a mix of black and white. Greys can have other hues in it too, e.g. yellow, blue or red.

  • Explore colour mixing rather than using paint straight from a pre-mixed colour tube, e.g. green and brown. Force yourself or your children / class to only use certain colours.

  • Make notes of the colours made through colour swatches, jotting down the colour names and if it helps, quantities.

  • Particular blues and reds can sometimes make purples less saturated, so if you are after a vibrant purple play around with phthalo blue and magenta.

  • Play with making saturated and non saturated colours.

  • The more you practise and play around with colour mixing, the more knowledgeable you will become.

Over the next few weeks, I will be teaching some of my client intense colour mixing. They are very excited about it...and I am too.


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