What do you think are the top color mixing challenges that painters encounter? During the past two months, I conducted several free color coaching sessions with painters to learn the answer to this question. I loved working with each of the participants and their respective color challenges.
Background information: Most of these sessions were conducted via an online video conferencing system so that we could see each other as well as the artwork of each participant. Due to a some technical difficulties, a couple were conducted via the phone. We spent about 40-55 minutes together. It was a joy to share my knowledge of color with them and help relieve some of their color frustrations.
What Are the Top Color Mixing Challenges?
Several color mixing topics surfaced consistently across all of my conversations. These are not ranked in any particular order or significance. With many of them, I have included one of my blog posts or video as a resource that addresses the topic. The most common color challenges with the group of painters I worked with, are:
- Understanding the value of using a 2-Primary Palette, and how color mixing is much easier when using this palette. Mixing mud is also avoided when you learn this palette system. This powerful concept is what I teach in my Craftsy online course: Acrylic Color Mixing Made Easy?
- How to create a sense of form. In my blog How Do I Make a Subject Look 3-Dimensional? I explain and demonstrate how you need at least three different colors to convey a sense of three-dimensions for an object/subject you are painting.
- Understanding the importance of hard and soft edges, and implementing them throughout a painting.
- How to create a sense of depth in a painting. It is a challenge because we are working on a two-dimensional surface. This is discussed in my blog: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Atmospheric Perspective
- The frustration of mixing mud and how to avoid it! As mentioned earlier, applying the principles of the 2-Primary Palette will eliminate the mixing of muddy colors.
- How to use warm and cool colors in a painting.
- Understanding the value of deciding on a color scheme before starting a painting. I write about this in my post: Choosing Color Schemes for My Paintings.
- Learning about the color discoveries you can encounter when you mix a pair of complementary colors. I call these “chromatic scales.” Here is a (slightly old, but still informative) YouTube video demonstrating how to paint one of these scales: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TniAwC6gkzU
- Understanding the relationship between color and values.
- How to mix greens so that they look natural. My free e-book on this topic can be obtained here: http://forms.aweber.com/form/45/1647654645.htm
- Making sure that only one color dominates in a painting.
What would you add to this list? Are there any surprises?
As a result of these insightful coaching conversations, I am generating a list of future blog posts. Some will be completely new and others will be further developed from the posts I have listed above. Stay tuned! 🙂
The other question I wanted answered as a result of talking with all of these painters was: “Why do you think painters are resistant to studying color?” Though few of the people I spoke to are resistant (otherwise they wouldn’t have signed up for the call, LOL!), they speculated the following:
- Painters are overwhelmed by color because there are too many choices and too many tubes of paint.
- Studying color is too limiting and impedes creativity; the rules are not something I want to learn.
- Painters already know color because we got what we needed in elementary school — besides, its supposed to be intuitive!
- Color classes are seldom available and when they are, the instruction is inadequate to poor.
- Fear, usually of failure.
- Painters are more interested in learning about other painting techniques than color. The former is more concrete, whereas the latter can be mysterious and elusive.
I wish I could easily debunk each of the above beliefs and myths. Color is the first element of a painting that viewers respond to, yet many of us resist learning about its glorious power. It is also the most difficult skill to learn. Hence, this is why I have studied it my entire 25+ year painting career. This, in turn, has inspired me to help artists end their frustrations with color. I love to teach color and open the doors to painters so that it is no longer overwhelming.
Color can be taught and it’s not painful! These top color mixing challenges can all be studied, practiced and mastered. I have found studying color very enjoyable and full of marvelous surprises! The benefits for me, have been:
- Being set free! I feel more creative because I know what might work and not work when making color decisions.
- Painting with confidence.
- Losing the sense of being overwhelmed because I know how to use a balanced palette of colors and I use very few tubes of paint.
- Understanding when I make a color mistake, why it happened and what to do differently next time.
- Communicating more effectively what I am trying to say via my paintings, because I understand the impact color has on a viewer.
- That color – as well as painting – is a life-long journey. The challenges and problems I set-up for myself in the studio are ones that motivate me to paint; they get me up in the morning.
- Studying color actually facilitates and expedites my development as an artist. “Just doing it,” is a hit or miss method of learning that is not as productive as deliberate practice.
- The joy of discovery!
Do any of these benefits encourage you to jump on the color study wagon if you are not already on it? Do join us, because it is a delightful ride and your painting will become easier and more enjoyable. You will start to overcome your color mixing challenges.
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