Unlock the essence of colour mixing and gain the skill to command them!
Colour mixing is the backbone of painting and essential for every artist.
Back when I kicked off my journey into the art world and started learning how to draw and paint, I attended several colours mixing classes taught by a number of teachers. It was there that I was introduced to the colour wheel; and it was there also that I learned the basics, such as how to mix complementary colours. But despite all the time and effort I invested in those colour mixing lessons, no one explained:
Why, and for what reason, I needed to know certain specifics such as mixing complementary colours; or
How, with a minimal colour palette or any colour for that matter, can I mix any colour I want, without guessing or by sheer intuition
One colour mixing workshop after another failed me to understand proper colour mixing; and only ten years later did I finally meet a teacher that plugged the gaps in my knowledge – in just two days!
Colour mixing seems so hard, when it is so simple...
I couldn’t believe how simple the basic understanding of the theory of colour mixing was, and how significant. It is sad that those techniques weren’t as readily available way back when I started out! And many of my peers struggled with genuine colour knowledge. The computer age is helping tremendously, but I honestly believe that an art class is still one of the best methods, and not by reason that I am teaching it, rather because I see how quickly students learn to master colour.
Later when I was teaching art, I had a promising student join me at one of my colour mixing workshop who was studying interior design at one of the colleges on the Gold Coast. As she had an elaborate and impressive portfolio, I assumed that she had a good understanding of colour, and thus told her that she didn’t need to sit through the basic colour mixing lessons. But it turned out that the students at this college only parodied what the teacher was doing; without actually understanding the why, what and how behind colour theory or colour properties. That’s one mistake I shall never repeat!
So, before you attend any colour mixing workshop, find out first:
if the teacher can mix any colour you point out, with just the double primary colours plus white and can demonstrate it
if the tutor can explain why complementary colours are so important when mixing colours in regards to changing a home colour naturally.
If your “teacher” isn’t able to demonstrate these two characteristics to your satisfaction, then you might remain as unsatisfied as I was.
Colour mixing 101...
Initially, colour mixing classes may sound somewhat theoretical; but once you grasp the essence of it all, it will be straightforward effortless and exciting. In fact, it is so simple to comprehend that even children of tender ages handily grasp colour properties.
Reputable teachers offering colour mixing lessons should start with the basics. To mix colour correctly, you should have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of colour theory, and that includes a thorough understanding of the four main properties of colour:
Hue: Which is a property by which hues are distinguished over a spectrum of colours that range from red, blue, green and yellow
Intensity: In colour theory, this is also commonly known as chroma or colour saturation, and specifies the purity of a given hue. The highest intensity is the hue itself; while hues whose intensity is reduced form different tones.
Value: Which dictates relativity of darkness or lightness of a colour
Temperature / Leaning: These colour properties help give “warm” or “cool”, but more so an understanding what kind of blue, red or yellow you should use to create a brighter or duller version of a colour.
Hue just means colour, value speaks of darkness and lightness and chroma about intensity and saturation. Chroma is the purity or intensity of colour. To reduce the chroma of a colour, you would have to add neutral grey which has the exact identical value as the colour you are using.
When you participate in any colour mixing workshop worth its value, you should also learn about two other elements of colour:
Tint: Which is what’s produced when mixing a colour with white, causing an increase in lightness of the colour; and
Shade: Which is the mixture of black with a colour, that results in reduction of lightness of the colour
With a firm grounding in colour mixing lessons, future artists understand that tones are produced by mixing colours with grey, or by a combination of shading and/or tinting.
Learning more about colour mixing...
For obvious reasons, this discussion on colour theory, and my rather abridged explanation of colour properties might not be enough to satisfy the artist in you. If you are anything like me, you’ll want to explore all of this in greater detail and have it explained step by step with practical exercises.
As I am not teaching anymore, I will create at some point online information in regards to colour mixing, as it is crucial knowledge that no one can take from you once it is yours.