COLOR – Magic or Mud.
I will soon be offering new COLOR workshops for painters or small art groups.
Sadly, I find many of the students that come to me after attending other workshops and even art school have very little knowledge of color mixing and theory. Students have learned new techniques, inspiring process & creative applications. Choices in subject and style are so subjective and personal – and there are no rules, right or wrong.
They attempt to emulate the style of an instructor or painter they admire. They may be able to afford many tubes of paint, but even after all this creative investment, they are disappointed with the results. Struggling with “failed” attempts, frustrated and disenchanted with their art practice.
Regardless of the style or genre an artist may aspire to, deliberate results are impossible (or hit & miss) without the most important tool for our creative kit. Color.
Thankfully – there are some simple rules
Rule #1. Primary colors are the base hues that cannot be mixed using other colors.
Red, Blue and Yellow.
Pretty simple. As children we learned that mixing two primary colors will create another color.
A Secondary color ie; Red+Blue = purple, Red+Yellow = orange, Yellow+Blue = green.
Often the final resulting mix was not a clear, intense color but far less “bright” than we anticipated.
Oh! The disappointing projects of my youth. Those bigs pats of lovely kindergarten color turning to mud off my fingers or brush. Brown instead of Violet – muddy orange instead of Tangerine – dull mossy green instead of Emerald Oz.
Rule #2. The key to the success of the resulting secondary color depends entirely upon which Red, Yellow or Blue you use to mix with. My elementary teachers obviously did not understand the color rules or have the school budget to allow for much choice.
The challenge of mixing color is understanding what will influence the outcome in a reliable and consistent way. There are simple and easy ways to negotiate the color maze. The most reassuring thing is – these color rules are constant. Once you learn them they won’t change, and in any paint medium, craft or design practice you can apply them.
The Candy store
The selection of pre-mixed paint colors available in the art supply shop is overwhelming. I think of it as a candy store – with so many temptations. You can purchase almost any color and squeeze it out, clear & bright, ready to use… but that becomes an expensive proposition. Once you find the correct color, you can always tint it lighter with white, right? But how do you make that particular red color darker? Most of the things in nature are not clear, bright colors…what then?
With the knowledge of basic color mixing theory, an artist can work from an economical palette of only six colors and mix almost any possible color. That limited palette simply needs to contain the right six colors.
It would seem the easiest solution is to have me provide a list of the right six colors – but the challenge of mixing color is understanding what works, why and when – so that you can consistently mix what you are aiming for. Once you have mastered the basic mixing theory – then comes the mystery of color relationships.
How a color “appears” brighter next to one color – as opposed to another. Its complicated.
Learn to reliably mix it – confidently place it – and then the world of color will open up for you.
Playing in the Mud
As a representational artist my color choices have changed. Gone sadly, are the purple trees and blues faces of my creative childhood. As I refine my painting practice I am constantly reaching for more muted, subtle variations of color. Those mountains in the distance. The light on a stone. A pale grey green shadow on a white flower.
Creating these subtle variations from the fresh, bright blobs on my palette is the constant challenge. Sometimes a “muddy” color is exactly what I am going to need – and it doesn’t come in a pre-mixed tube.
That mistaken muddy orange or mossy green from kindergarten would work quite nicely here. Creating a muddy mixture from the original is not always a bad thing. Now that I have control over the outcome, this is where I like to play.
I hope you will come and play in the Mud with me!
Class Schedule 2015