37 Thoughts About Color

May 24, 2022

What a glorious day it has been. I planted my spring garden today and I am enjoying a breezy Florida late afternoon as I write this on my back porch.

My mind is on color.

I taught a wonderful, day-long color class yesterday. It is always a treat to be live with students since I mostly teach online these days. It was very special that 3 of my online Essential Elements students were actually at the class and I got to paint with them in person!

Today I gave myself an exercise to make a list of color musings to share with you - things I've come to learn about color and how I use it.

Here are 37 things that came to mind:

  • Sir Isaac Newton passed a beam of light through a glass prism. It broke in the colored bands, and later became known as the color spectrum (and lead to the color wheel).
  • The definition of color = hue, value & chroma
  • Hue = color. That’s all
  • Good value means you can use any color you want.
  • Knowing chroma will help mix better color.
  • Color is relative to whatever color is next to it.
  • Without light there is no color.
  • Color can be the subject of a painting (think abstracts).
  • Knowing the properties of each tube of your paint will help you mix better.
  • Using only analogous colors, warm colors or only cool colors will make a more unified painting.
  • Inorganic colors produce more local color.
  • When painting bright colors, keep the value close.
  • Organic colors produce more intense color.
  • Your own color mixing bootcamp: Use the 3 primaries and white to mix all your colors
  • Gray = red, blue & yellow
  • Adding white to a mixture will cool it down.
  • Colors have different values right out of the tube.
  • When mixing dark colors add a touch of white to see which color it is leaning toward.
  • Mix your pigments with a palette knife and not your brush to avoid gloppy-brush-syndrome.
  • Color speaks to our emotions.
  • Color can be used to emphasize an area - like your focal point.
  • Color can be used to create form.
  • Complimentary colors just look good together.
  • Complimentary colors mixed together = gray
  • Adding white too early can lead to mud.
  • Place warm spots of color near cool ones, and cool spots near warm ones.
  • When adding a new color to a painting, look for other areas of the painting to add that color.
  • The key to more natural greens is mixing in a warm color (red or orange).
  • Indian Yellow will brighten a dull, lifeless area of my painting.
  • I often use Ultramarine Blue for a sky.
  • Indanthrone Blue is my newest favorite color.
  • I splurge on ultra-saturated, premium quality, GOLDEN Acrylic Paints.
  • I save money using white gesso instead of titanium white in my acrylic paintings.
  • Orange and pink look really good together.
  • I use blue the most.
  • I start my panting by “drawing” in transparent oxide orange.
  • Most of my paintings are a majority of grays ( a mixture of red, blue & yellow.

Wishing you a most colorful week!