Colour can sometimes seem like a huge and daunting subject that feels like you need a degree to decode. But don’t despair – with a few basic tips you can start your colour journey with a little more confidence. The key – as with most skills – is to start with the basics, then grow from there.
At Art&Co this term we are focusing on colour, with the aim to equip our students with the knowledge and confidence to mix almost any colour they are seeking. Although there is a wonderful selection of pre-mixed paints in any art store, there is something very satisfying about mixing that perfect green from scratch! So let’s get started!!
These are the foundation and probably something you learned about in kindergarten. Red, Yellow & Blue are the three pillars of colour mixing in artistic practice.
Now within these 3 colours there are lots of variations – warm reds/cool reds, warm blues/ cool blues, warm yellows/cool yellows. An important thing to remember with these warm/cool variations is that a warm colour mixed with a cool colour will yield a different result than a cool colour with a cool colour.
An example of this is if you mix a warm red with a cool blue versus a cool red with a cool blue. The resulting purples will vary, so be aware of this if you can’t quite get the colour you are after.
For the examples in this post I am using acrylic paints we use often in the studio: Global Cool Blue (Pthalo), Derivan Red which tends to cool, and a primary yellow.
So your secondary colours are combinations of 2 of the primary colours – again pretty simple mixes that we all usually learn in our early years:
Red + Blue = Purple
Red + Yellow = Orange
Yellow + Blue = Green
Here you can start to see what a combination of the 3 basic primary colours can make – and how from this stage you can play further by adding a little extra blue, or perhaps black or white into the mix to really personalize your hue.
So a tertiary is a combination of a primary with a secondary:
Red + Purple = Red Violet
Red + Orange = Vermillion
Blue + Purple = Indigo
Blue + Green = Aquamarine
Yellow + Orange = Amber
Yellow + Green = Chartreuse
Interesting to note here is the relationship all of these colours have with each other – as they come from the 3 main “parent colours” Red Yellow Blue. They all have a synergy and you can imagine them working well in various combinations on a painting as they were all formed from the same origins!
The Final Palette
Ok kids we will leave it there for this first installment in our Colour Loving series of posts….next time we will get more specific on how to mix neutrals, and how to match a colour. In the meantime have a go at creating your own basic colour palette and be inspired by what you can create with 3 simple little paint tubes!