Wednesday, April 4, 2012

One EASY Way to Improve Your Colour Ability - Make Your Own Colour Wheel!

My own colour wheel on a piece of gessoed illustration board. Apprx. 12" x 12".
   I was in the middle of just starting a new painting and I wanted to check my colour palette theory. I looked up from my painting to check the colour wheel on my wall. There is no colour wheel on my wall. There were colour mixes and samples but no colour wheel. This is like basic painting 101 ( I HAD done a colour wheel in both high school fine art class and in college) but God knew where they went. So I quickly whipped up the colour wheel you see above.

   Gessoed illustration board works great. I quickly eyeballed the circle(s) and applied the colours straight from the tube and mixed. I want my colours to be modern but also capable of yielding a more subtle earth tone palette. The pigments are all professional quality Golden and Winsor Newton (no student grade paints as they have fillers and yield poor colour mixtures as a result). The colours you see above are: cadmium lemon yellow, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, permanent alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and manganese blue (not real manganese as that's pretty toxic stuff). Remember as well, that the cadmiums are also toxic and not to be ingested or inhaled (airbrushing or pastel work).

   I decided to do colour mixtures from mixing primary to primary (cad red light and cad. light yellow, perm. alizarin and cad. yellow light, ultramarine blue and cad. yellow light, cobalt blue (added as a go-between between manganese blue and ultramarine blue) and cad. yellow light to yield my secondary and tertiary colours. You can see this on the colour wheel above. Some of the results surprised me.

   Before I didn't like how ultramarine and cad. yellow light mixed to form the greens they did. However, seeing them in opposition to their natural compliments made me rethink that aversion. In constructing successful colour themes or palettes for your work (be you a fine artist, a textile artist, an interior designer, etc.) it's all about getting the colours (hues, values, saturation) right and properly balanced throughout the colour wheel. Once your colours are balanced, you can then progress onto making more pleasing and workable colour mixes. Everyone's tastes are different. You'll notice I don't have a cadmium yellow medium or cadmium red medium on my wheel. I find I can mix those hues from the cadmium yellow light, cadmium red light and some alizarin. Also different brands colours will be slightly different from each other. For example, the Golden ultramarine blue is slightly different then the Winsor Newton ultramarine.

   So take the time to mix your own colour palette. It makes your work just a little bit easier in the short and long run and you'll learn a thing or two while doing it. If you're a colourist ANY excuse to play with colour is time well spent!

No comments:

Post a Comment