Monday, September 14, 2015

Mixing Colors

There can be a great deal of confusion on the part of new painters trying to understand the color wheel and mixing colors.

While many paint manufactures offer a variety of premixed paints, I prefer to mix my own to attain the hue and value I'm looking for. To help newbies grasp an understanding I'll try to explain - in doing so I do understand other artist use what works for them.

Color can be described in three basic characteristics: hue, value, and chroma. Often “hue” and “color” are interchangeable, although, “hue” from my experience, is more transparent than permanent colors, which contain additives, such as cadmium, which make the colors cover better.
Colors are further classified by their characteristics, such as; dark and light, warm and cool, dull and bright. As an example, all reds from pink to maroon, from fiery red to wine red are part of the color family of red. The variation of a color can be further identified as “value” and “chroma”.

Red, yellow and blue are the three primary colors, which form the basis for mixing all other hues. White is often used to lighten the value of a color, and it is natural to think that black is used to darken a color, which is not true in every case.

Using different values of the primary colors produce colors that range from dull to bright. If you use the same value of red to produce both purple and orange, the purple may look dull, muddy. It is best to use two different values of reds, such as one from the warm side and other from the cool side. 
So what are warm and cool colors? Warm colors contain variations of red – (think of fire), while cool ones contain vary amounts of blue – (think cold blue). Mixing together a color’s cool and warm sides will produce a neutral color. An example; using a cool rose red mixed with blue will make purple and a warm orangery red mixed with yellow will make orange and in both cases the colors will be brighter colors. This process is called the “split-primary system”

Cadmium Yellow medium is warm, while  Lemon Yellow Hue is cool - why? Because Cadmium Yellow has a touch of red, while Lemon Yellow has a bit of blue

Cadmium Red Hue is warm  - more on orange side        Permanent Rose is cool has blue

Thalo Blue is warm - touch of green                            French Ultramarine Blue is cool


The three secondary hues: orange, green, and violet are bi-products of mixing the three primary colors – Blue and Yellow will make green, Red and Yellow = orange and Purple is a mix of red and blue. 
When mixing primary colors it is best to start with the lighter color and add small amounts of the darker one until you obtain the color you’re looking for.
Orange: Cadmium Yellow Medium + Cadmium Red Hue
Green: Lemon Yellow Hue and Thalo Blue
Violet: French Ultramarine Blue and Permanent Rose


Are made by mixing a primary color to its secondary color – Yellow + Green = yellow green or Blue +Green = blue green

A color is either on the light or dark side. A color’s value is said to be higher the lighter it is, while its value decreases as it becomes darker. To further confuse the your understanding, lighter colors are called “tints” while darker ones are called “shades”. 
A color's higher value is obtained by adding white, but shades are more complicated. Some colors can be darkened using black, which can be made by mixing the darkest value of secondary hues, But it can not be used to darken lighter colors because blacks are a blend – To prove this fact, add yellow to black and you’ll get a green. 
So what does one do to darken lighter colors? Use earth tones: Yellow Orchre, Burnt Umber, and Raw Sienna are replacements for dark yellows, while Burnt Sienna is used as a dark orange. Thalo Green and Alizarin Crimson are used to darken greens and reds.

YELLOW OCHRE: Is mostly yellow

BURNT UMBER:Used to darken yellow, but you’ll have better results using Yellow Ochre and Burnt Umber

            RAW SIENNA: can be used to darken warm yellows, which are ones that lean towards the orange hues

BURNT SIENNA: can be used to darken orange and can be added to bright colors in landscape paintings to soften them.

            ALIZARIN CRIMSON: Is a deep red used to darken lighter reds

            THALO GREEN: Can be used to darken other greens and is often used as a base green and is mixed with a variety of different light colors. I was taught to use Sap Green, which is a more neutral green so it can be mixed with blues to get blue-green or yellow for yellow green. I found using Thalo Green as a base offers a variety of bright greens, whereas Sap Green is less intense. 

Yellow-green is darken with Thalo Green
Yellow – is darken with Yellow Ochre or Burnt Umber
Blue-green is darken with Thalo Blue and Thalo Green
Blue-violet is darken with French Ultramarine blue and violet
Red-violet is darken with Alizarin Crimson and dark violet
Red-orange is darken with Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna

Yellow-orange is darkened with Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna

Next time you look at your color wheel, notice that it is divided in half  between warm and cool colors. This become important as ones painting becomes more fine tuned.

If this helps, let me know - next I'll address Chroma

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