Artist painting tip about colour

by Ron Gribble

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Lets look at colour.

There is so much that can be said about it. We all know what colour is, but how do we mix it? How do we control it?

How do you decide what colour you want, and where?
How do we use complimentary colours?

Artist painting tip about colour ron gribble

After a demonstration that I did at the Downtown Hilton Art Gallery once, a chap said to me that he had observed that I spent 80% of my time mixing colours!!! That leaves only 20% for all the other things!! It seems to me that we should be devoting a similar proportion of time in research and practice for this activity.

I suggest that everyone should have a simple colour wheel beside their easel!! Go down to the hardware shop and pick one up. The colour wheel is very basic knowledge you could say. You left that behind at school, right?

Then why is it that I see a very bad lack of the use of the colour wheel in paintings?

Maybe, like me you did not fully realise the many ways that you can use complimentary colours to advantage in even insignificant areas of your work.

E.G. If you had an area of green grass that made up an area of detail in a painting. If you wanted to make this area have life and appeal, take the colour wheel and look at what is the direct compliment to the green. Depending on the shade of grass, it will be a warm brown.

Place that on first, and let it dry. I use an acrylic. Now paint the green grass over the top, allowing the under painting to show through. Even an insignificant mid ground area can be made interesting and creatively correct.

Some of the paint and Hardware shops have colour wheels with many subtle variations, so that you can find the colour wheel that best matches the colour you are using, and then look for it's compliment.

One more thing. Try not using black, but use the compliment of the colour you are placing in that area, as explained above instead. Deep purples, blues, crimsons, browns are far more fun and are not dead like black.

Think about it, black is the absence of all colour, it is not a colour, and should be used very sparingly. If nothing else will do, then go for it, but I seldom have had that situation. Black will dirty a colour, but if you want to darken it, you do not necessarily want to dirty it.

More on colour next month. We will discuss how to make a colour as dark as black, without making it an unreal, strong colour.

Happy Painting
Ron Gribble
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