Colour mixing with Watercolours
Colour mixing with watercolours the basics.

Colour mixing with watercolours
Colour mixing with watercolours
We see colour everywhere, green foliage on trees, flesh colours, blue skies, greens of fields, colour is everywhere, so how do we perceive a colour, a neat little trick is to use a 6"x4" grey card and make a hole in it about the size of a ten pence piece or if you live in America or Canada a dime. Hold the card out in front of you at the subject you are going to paint and look through the hole at your subject, in this way you are cutting out all the other colours of your subject and concentrating on just one colour, this is a good way not only to judge a colour but also to judge the tone of a colour. If we were to look carefully at a person's face you will see that every person's skin colour is quite different, on one persons face you might see a pinkish flesh colour and on another person it might be a yellowish tint and on another a blue tint, so we need to look very carefully at a person's colour. Its the same with any colour in a landscape, there are plenty of greens in those fields and oh so many blue skies, is a tree trunk really brown as we learnt at school, I don't think so, if you half close your eyes and really look there are blues, greens, reds and loads of other colours depending on the type of tree and whether the sun is out or not so never have preconceived ideas in what a colour should be.

Lets start to mix colour
Colour mixing with watercoloursTake a medium size brush and put it in your jar of water and give it a good shake to get rid of the excess water and put your brush into the cadmium red colour and bring it out into your mixing area, once there leave it there don't start to swirl it around and round. What we want is clean fresh colour and not dead or a muddy colour. Make sure the colour is quite strong and not weak and stroke a column of this paint onto your paper, paint a line about the width of your brush and about 4" long, the paint shouldn't run away on its own, it should stay where you put it., if it runs you have probably too much water in your brush, if you see a texture (A dry brush effect) then you haven't enough water on your brush. Once you have put this red onto your paper go straight into your water jar give it a good shake and then go into your cadmium yellow and bring this into your red colour on your palette but don't swirl it around to mix it, what we want is a partial mix of both colours and not mixing the paint to death. You need to be able to see the identities of both colours on your palette although mixed ever so slightly to make orange and have a go at putting this colour down onto your paper.

This is the basis of colour mixing, to retain the brilliance and purity of colour and here I cant help you anymore, this is all there is in actually mixing paint together, all the rest is personal, your colours and your perceptions of colour. Is a clear blue sky a cool blue like cerulean or is it a warmer blue like ultramarine blue, I cant tell you because every sky at different moments in time are different. All I can say is use the card technique as said earlier at the beginning of the book here and look through it at your subject and see if you can replicate the colour you see through the hole. Say to yourself, is it a cool blue I see or is it a warm red colour, half close your eyes and you will also see the tonality of that colour better than you would without the grey card. Paint in simple colours, so if there is a blue sky paint it with any blue, say cerulean blue (Do this on scraps of paper) then look at the colour you have painted and compare it with the sky you are painting, does the blue need to be cooler or warmer! if it needs to be warmer add a warmer blue like ultramarine which has red in it or if it needs to be even warmer add a touch of alizarin crimson, if it needs to be cooler you might try adding cerulean blue.

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