Art Tips: The Colour Chart

Posted by: phelim

Tagged in: myblog

Learning to use colour correctly is a continuous and challenging aspect of painting.  The following colour chart is a simple but effective introduction to it, and is based on the principle that all colours extend from the three primary colours.  This of course is correct in theory but in practice depends upon the primaries used.  For this chart, which I did with a student, we used 'winton' lemon yellow, cobalt blue and permanent rose.

It is designed to teach you to understand graduation of colours and complimentary colouring.  Learning to see the difference between red and yellow for example is easy enough.  However, learning to see, understand and apply the subdivision of the colours between yellow and red takes more skill and practise.  Some people think that to lighten red you add white, but this actually creates pink, which is a pastel colour, and different.  Light reds (fig 1) are orange and then yellow.  As you can see from the chart, dark reds are reds going towards blue.  To create the correct subdivision of colours to light and dark, start by going up or down the colour chart.  Bear in mind that these 12 colours can be further subdivided to create a vast range, eg Fig A - yellow to orange.  At this point, you can further divide and create by adding white to create the pastel range.  Similarly you can add black to create a tonal range.
Natural blacks can be created using the three primaries.  You can also create colours from intermixing (Fig B).  Brown is red+green, adding more yellow to get Raw Sienna and adding more yellow ochre and red for Burnt Sienna etc.
Most importantly the colours opposite each other are 'complimentary colours'. In order to create the correct dark of any colour you add some if its complimentary colour to it. eg to darken red, add green; to darken orange, add blue (not so much that it makes the colour brown).  Fig 2 (Also see abuse of black & white in earlier tips)

To darken the orange starting with orange add a little red and blue, and I always add an extra touch of blue to all colours when darkening.  To see me paint the colour chart you can sign up for my free video tutorials where there are a number of different video tutorials.
Best wishes