Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Identifying colors

I have covered color mixing before in this publication, Studio Muses (see a treasure trove of color ideas in my blogger log). This past class session we again covered color theory and mixing in depth, including the Isaac Newton and the CYMK* color wheels as well as how to make greys and browns from complementary colors, color temperature and so on. 

One of the most common mistakes I think people make when they buy a new travel tin of watercolors is not identifying the color cakes in the half pans. Very often knowing the colors you have are very instructive, which one has more red it in, more green, more blue. Don't believe me? Here is a picture of my Lukas half-pan set and the color swatches I've created to truly examine what each color offers.

The primaries are lemon yellow, magenta, cyan. 

Below are the swatches. While our computer screens can distort color, I want you to take a moment and really "see" the colors below. Notice how red in the cadmium red is as opposed to the magenta or alizarin crimson. Look a the blues, the ultramarine blue is more of royal blue as opposed to the cyan or Prussian blue. The burnt umber is far more reddish leaning and darker than the raw umber (do you see the green in the raw umber?)

So why is this important It really makes a difference in color mixing. I personally like working with cyan, magenta and lemon yellow. While the chart above doesn't show how reddish cadmium yellow is, it can make a difference when mixing. So, just for grins, I'm offering the following chart. I took cadmium yellow, lemon yellow, ultramarine blue, cyan blue and mixed them. The greens seem to be the same but when you look closer, there is a difference. I've also include mixing black with yellow to make olive green and mixing burnt umber with ultramarine blue to create a dark gray. 

Why not try this yourself? In fact, I challenge you to see what happens when you mix your colors randomly. Does anything change? Maybe take notes to remember what you did. This is definitely the fun part of color mixing!

*C=Cyan, Y=Yellow, M=Magenta, K=Black (the same colors that appear in your color printer

What's coming up?

2024 Summer Session

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