What are the steps to mixing a color that seems to be just out of reach? An ardent follower of my blog asked me to explain how to go about mixing sage green. Sagebrush is frequently seen in the American southwest and west. She sent me this photo that sports a variety of sage greens. Other parts of the US and world also feature these sage greens. It’s a color that can appear to be difficult to mix. When challenged with matching a color you want to mix, there are four steps. In this example, I am wanting to match the sage green in the back of the photo indicated by the black arrow. [Read more…]
Have you ever mixed mud? Silly question, I know. It happens to all of us no matter our skill level. And it can be a real source of frustration and angst.
Have you ever asked how to mix mud or why it happens? Perhaps some of you have heard, “If you mix three or more colors, your chances of making mud go up significantly.” There is some truth to this statement. However, there is an actual answer to the question “How do you mix mud?”
Let me pose a question: If you mixed the three tubes of paints listed below, which combination will result in mud and which will be less muddy? 1 or 2?
- Cadmium red light, cerulean blue and alizarin crimson
- Hansa yellow light, cerulean blue and ultramarine blue
Sample swatches are painted here.
2. From top to bottom, cerulean, Hansa yellow light, ultramarine blue
Next, this image shows the result of mixing cerulean with alizarin. At the top of the swatch is a purplish color. I thinned it out at the top with a little medium so that it is easier to see the hue. It is a delightful desaturated rose purple or eggplant color. [Read more…]
How many color theory and painting technique books do you have in your artist library? When I first started painting, I soon realized that many of us are art instruction book junkies. We are fortunate to have so many artists willing to share their knowledge and skills with us in print and video.
One of the final pages for me to write for my forthcoming book, I Just Want to Paint: Mixing the Colors You Want! is the Resources page. This is a list of various art instruction books I have collected over the years and have continued to reference throughout my art career.
Before I share some of these with you, writing the Resources page spurred me to reminisce as I looked upon my large stack — I think I have over thirty books just related to the subject of color — and reflect upon the important role these books have played. Because I am a self-taught artist, I was highly disciplined and would pour through each book when it was new to my library. I continue to do this today whenever I purchase a new book.
Then I remembered an art book club that I participated in. What is an art book club?
It was about six painters meeting monthly in one of our homes or studios to discuss a particular book. We would speand about three to four meetings per book. Often we would bring paintings or sample exercises from the book to share. These meetings deepened the understanding of the book’s content, plus they served as a meaningful catalyst to furthering our respective skills and knowledge. The benefits were significant. [Read more…]
How quickly can you state the three characteristics of every color? Perhaps you have known what they are and have forgotten or this is new to you. In any case, it is good to know these characteristics when mixing and applying color. I like to think of each and every color as a tool in my paint box and I need to know each one well.
One way to get to know or to revisit these ‘tools’ is by creating a Color Chart that contains a swatch of every color you own noting the three characteristics. The directions to such a chart can be found in my post, How to be Intimate with Your Colors.
What Are the Three Characteristics of Every Color?
They are: hue, value and chroma. [Read more…]
What is the complement of pink? Why is the color pink special? Pink, after all, is a lighter version of red, yet it has its own moniker. When white is added to blue or green or yellow, it is just called light-blue or light-green or light-yellow. The English language doesn’t have a unique name for them.
For more information about this intriguing color, visit: A Brief History of the Color Pink. It’s interesting to take a moment every now and then to think about the colors we use. For example, pink wasn’t a noun in the English language until the end of 17th-Century, though Renaissance artists had been using it for “glowing undertones of religious figures.” Next, think of what pink symbolizes in our culture today.
To return to the original question, “What is the complement of pink?” What do you think it is? You know that red is the base color of pink, therefore, a guess of some hue of green would be correct. This 12-hue color wheel shows a bright yellow-green as the complement of pink.
Have you explored this pair of color complements? They are not seen as often as the more common — orange and blue or yellow and purple or red and green. As you may know, I am a huge of fan of exploring the possible colors that can be created by mixing color complements. Visit my post Complementary Colors Are Dancing Partners to learn more.
Mixing color complements not only provide lovely de-saturated colors, they also make each other sparkle when placed next to one another in a painting. In this graphic, if you stare at it for a minute or two, you will see the colors shimmer.
How to Mix the Complement of Pink
My favorite approach to mixing complements is demonstrated in an old YouTube video and described below. I call them 7-Step Chromatic Scales. Here are the steps.
- Mix a pile or puddle of your two parent colors – pink and lime or yellow-green. To learn more about mixing pink, visit How to Mix Pink? For this demonstration, I used a violet-red as my base color and then added white. Watercolorists just need to add water.
- Mix a bright yellow-green by using a green-blue, such as phthalo blue, with a green-yellow, such at Hansa yellow light or aureolin. Tip: You will need more yellow than blue to mix your green.
- Apply a swatch of each parent color on canvas or watercolor paper about 8″-10″ a part.
- Next mix the middle mixture. Your objective is to achieve a hue – mixing your pink and yellow-green – that does not contain any evidence of either parent color. This takes practice and sometimes patience. The resulting color will be a brown or a gray which indicates that both parent colors have been cancelled.
- Now mix the two steps between the pink and the middle color. Just add a little bit of the green to the pink and notice how quickly the pink starts to neutralize or de-saturate. Paint a swatch of this color next to the pink parent color.
- Then add more green to this mixture for the third step. I like these colors, how about you?
- Next, mix the two steps of green in the same manner as you did the pinks. Below you see a green swatch with just a bit of pink added to it.
- This is the completed 7-Step Chromatic Scale. Warning: Your results will most likely be different from mine because the parent colors will be somewhat different.
What are your reactions to these de-saturated/neutralized colors? What subject matter lends itself to using the complement of pink? Or perhaps an abstract painting? Are you surprised by the mixtures that can be created?
Perhaps this is a good time to explore other pairs of complementary colors? Try it and see what happens. I have had students who claim they have charts of complementary colors hanging around their studios.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your fellow artists.
Gratefully and colorfully yours,
PS Mixing color complements is also covered in my online Craftsy course, Acrylic Color Mixing Made Easy!
PSS Stay tuned for my forthcoming book “I Just Want to Paint: Mixing the Colors You Want!” Hopefully it will be available later this fall.