I took my first color theory class with Bill Bayer, an artist and teacher from Missouri at my second Las Vegas Painting Convention. I was so impressed that he got me to paint a tree in a landscape that I had to see what theory he was talking about. Regardless of what kind of art you do...fine art, crafts, and the medium ranging from pastels, watercolor, acrylics to oils, the technique may be different in getting the medium to a surface but the color theories remain pretty much the same.
The exercise here is creating cool and warm colors with complimentary mixes. I don't think there was one person in that room who wasn't surprised at what happens. As I pointed out earlier, when you use colors in a painting, mixing them to create a new color creates no problems. You are in essence using the same colors but in a different way. There is no need to introduce yet another color or splatter the new color everywhere because you used the original colors, the parent colors already.
One of the theories of every painting is the balance of cool and warm color. If your shadows are cool, the bright portions should be warm and vice versa. When you combine those two tones, the third color is a mix and will fit right in. Many artists use this new tone as a bridge between warm and cool colors. It makes for an easy transition and doesn't suddenly make you realize there was a transition. It should never call attention to itself. You will also notice that you create blacks; some are cool and others warm. These blacks are preferable to black from a tube. Tube blacks are dead, they have no life. Mixing colors to create black gives so much more depth because it is noticeably warm or cool, blueish or greenish, yellowish or reddish. They are nearly black but with great body, depth.
Of course, this is the color theory from maybe as far back as the Romans, rediscovered during the Renaissance and used until the Impressionists showed the world how to use light by looking at what was there in front of them. Until this time, most paintings tended to be darker, have less light in them. However, if you observe nature, you will see that these are the rules of color in nature, there is at times tremendous contrast of light and dark. Nothing, blacks or white are just black or white. They tend to have some kind of a tint...usually warm or cool.
My most popular blog has been "Fun With Color." However, how can you have any fun if you don't learn how to create your own colors? I urge you to give it a try. The rules are pretty much the same. Acrylics and oils mix pretty much mix the same way. Acrylic users may want to add a medium to slow down the drying time but lay out the colors shown here, warm colors: Indian Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red light, Alizarine Crimson and Cadmium Yellow Light and mix them in a wheel like I've shown with cool colors like: Phthalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Gree, Purple.
For those who really are adventurous, mix your own favorite warm and cool colors and keep them around for reference. You will be surprised with the colors you create and rather than reaching for one of over 200 bottles of color, you will discover with 10 - 12 colors you can make just about any color you have ever or will ever see! Happy mixing!!!
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