Paint nights make it look simple by just a paper plate, a splattering of tube color acrylics, and viola, you’re painting… But color is anything but simple. Color is so intricate that it is divided into categories… Primary, secondary, and tertiary. Then you have values, hues, tinting, mid-tones, and so on. Color makes us respond – it brings things to life. Color carries representation for mood or emotion and temperature. We feel gray, the serenity of blue, we are hungry in the presence of red, and we are energized by yellow. We may like cool tones or we may remain with natural or neutral color. It’s what moves us toward or away from a piece of art. Color can complement, it can add contrast, or it can detract. It’s all about how you use it.
Once you learn these concepts, then there is making, maintaining, and mixing color. This truly takes patience and a trained eye. Think of the color charts at Home Depot, Lowes, or Pantone. How do they get those shades?
You create by easing into a hue, adding a little more yellow to that blue-based green that gives you the shade you’er looking for. Step by step you go lighter, darker, richer, until you have ridden up and down the value scale discovering its range.
Oh, and let’s not forget the 50 shades of gray….which are so important! The journey from white to black (black representing every color combined) is all about value or tone.
Once you master that understanding, then you can convert your thinking over to color. Now it might be easier to see that the magenta and pea green that you’re painting with are equal in weight, or you may be totally overwhelmed.
Color is a process and one only learned by hands-on exploration. Doing is learning and you can try your hand at color in a mini-course coming up this month (July 2019). We encourage all painters to enrich your knowledge and explore the power of color by practicing. Paint it. Make a color chart for every paint you own. This way, you will predetermine a palette to paint with before you start laying out your painting.
Color is always better if it comes from your creativity and not just from a tube.