Ya' gotta' love colour

by lesley // posted on Jul 24, 2017

We learn early that there are three primary colours: red, yellow, blue.  So named because they can't be mixed by using other colours.  With these primaries, we can mix almost any other colour.  After years of mixing, I continue to be fascinated by the possibilities. 

Each colour we create can then be altered further by tinting (adding white), shading (adding black), or toning (adding white and black).  Artists personalize their work by creating their own tints, shades and tones. 

Categorizing colour by temperature: warm (oranges, reds, yellows) or cool (blues, violets, greens) is another tool in our artist's quiver.  The more in touch we are with the effects of colour, the more adept we'll be at interpreting the imprint colour has on our work and will help us control the message we want to convey.

Let's discuss black for a minute.  I've heard artists say they refuse to even squeeze black onto their pallets.  They claim it is a "non-colour".  I completely disagree. 

I will concede that if used directly out of the tube, black is a killer.  It simply leaves a hole wherever it's placed.  This may be the effect an artist is after but if it's done without purpose, it can have a devastating effect on the final product. 

Chromatic blacks (mixed from other colours) are entirely different.  There is real power in mixing your own blacks.  You can bend them to your will and send them in so many different directions. 

Here's two examples from my archives.  All the blacks were made from mixing colours. Difficult to see on a computer screen but when seen live, you see blacks full of life.  They are dark enough to make the surrounding colours pop while creating the desired contrasts. 

Rain Dance

One of the many reasons I'm grateful to wake up each morning is knowing that whatever the day brings, I will view it in technicolour.  

The better we understand and utilize the seven elements, the more pleasurable it becomes to communicate in paint.

 PS:  One of my favorite recipes for a neutral black. 

Ultramarine Blue + Burnt Umber + Alizarin Crimson 

The amounts of each will determine the temperature of the black you create. Equal parts of the blue and umber with just a touch of alizarin gives me a deep dark that can be bent in any temperature direction at a moments notice.  If you add a touch of white, a whole host of beautiful grays start to emerge. 



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