Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Earth Tones and the Practical Colour Wheel

Per the original post on the Practical Colour Wheel, purpose number four has to do with mixing earth tones.  All the pigments listed on this colour wheel are high chroma colours.  Since earth tones are grayed versions of the primaries, they are not shown.  If they were shown, they would be inside the colour wheel - towards the centre.  For example, yellow ochre is a yellow (primarily) and would be shown on the wheel between yellow and the centre of the wheel.  It may be mixed from the primary colours.  How?  Since it is in the yellow family, start with a primary yellow (cadmium Yellow), the add in small amounts of primary red and primary blue.  Then add white to get the value desired.  This version of yellow ochre will be rich but grayed (compared to Cadmium Yellow).   Experiment with it - mixing is an excellent exercise.  To get Burnt Umber (a clean version of it) mix the same three pigments but with a dominant Orange (Yellow and Red) with the Blue.  Although this requires mixing it does not "dirty" other mixtures like Burnt Umber from the tube.

Yellow Ochre mixed from Primaries

Any two colours on the Practical colour wheel will gray when mixed.  For example, Untramarine Blue plus Cerulean Blue will approximate Cobalt blue - slightly grayed.  To the extreme, two colours opposite on the wheel (complements) will go totally gray in the correct proportions - like Alizarine and Viridian.  The more pigments mixed, the more gray or mud.  The addition of white also grays pigments (and cools them).

So, what is the significance of all of this information?

1.)  It allows one to use a simple palette such as three primaries to make good paintings.  This reduces the decision making process and helps with speed.  A virtue en plein air.  But it requires mixing - a great place to start a painting career.

2.)  It helps one understand how mixing works, colours and values.

3.)  It helps one design a palette for making high key colour paintings - not much gray here.  A requirement for non tonal painting.

4.) It helps one to "see" from the study of life subjects.

5.)  It helps one in the pursuit of abstract painting - still need to know how colour works and how to get an effect.

No comments:

Post a Comment