Art · Watercolour

Exploring Colour

Paint Your Dreams - NB
Paint Your Dreams

My earliest childhood memories of playing with colours was with Carolyn sitting at our kitchen table, probably around 1970 give or take a bit (I’m showing my age!!). We would have our paints and colouring books out and we were very happy. Our paintboxes were very basic – we had a red, a blue, a yellow and a green! And when our paintboxes got a bit posher we also had a white and a black!! So if we wanted an orange, a purple or a brown we had to mix it! We didn’t worry about getting it wrong or making a mess – it was fun, we loved it. Little did we know that such innocent childhood fun would set us up for artistic adventures later in life…

Paintbox Colours - NB
The only colours Carolyn & I had in our childhood paintboxes ~ a red, a yellow a blue & a green…

Why am I mentioning this? Well, in this post I’m, in effect, going back to my childhood days and I’m starting off with just the basics – a red, a yellow and a blue. And with just those colours to hand I’m going start exploring… and I’m not going to worry about getting it wrong or making a mess… and it’s going to be fun

DS Primary Colours - NB

These are my starting colours – the Daniel Smith Primary Colour Set. One red, one yellow and one blue. No more. The primary colours. So with paints, palette, paper, water and brush in front of me I’m ready to have some fun mixing colour…

DS Primary Colour Char - NB
Mixing Daniel Smith Primary Colours

This is the result of a fun evening playing with Daniel Smith primary colours. At the very top of the chart you will see the primary colours on their own ~ all individually gorgeous colours in their own right. At the bottom of the chart you will notice a black colour – this was created by mixing small amounts of each undiluted colour together in my palette. Not all combinations of red, yellow and blue will reach black. But these did, although it did take me 3 attempts to get the ratio of pigments right! Now all the squares in between – 48 of them in total – are all the different colours I created by just mixing together different amounts of the three primary colours. Please view the chart larger by clicking on it as you will get a more detailed view of the lovely colours. So in total on this sheet of paper (19.5 cm x 28 cm) there are 52 colours! I could have created more but I ran out of space…

Now, why don’t I try some different reds, yellows and blues?

Triangular Colour Wheel 1 - NB
Triangular Colour Wheel 1 ~ Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow & Prussian Blue

In my triangular colour wheel above I’ve used Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Prussian Blue. Notice that the Cadmium Red when mixed with a little Prussian Blue makes a rich brown colour and adding more Prussian Blue to the mix makes black – no purple… !

Triangular Colour Wheel 2 - NB
Triangular Colour Wheel 2 ~ Permanent Rose, Cerulean Blue & Naples Yellow

In this triangular colour wheel I’ve used Permanent Rose, Naples Yellow and Cerulean Blue. Notice how adding just a little Permanent Rose to the Cerulean Blue makes a gorgeous dark lavender blue.  And Cerulean Blue mixed with a little Naples Yellow makes a lovely pale turquoise and adding more Naples Yellow makes a lovely soft sage green.

These are just two examples but the different combinations of red, yellow and blue you could mix are almost endless. I will continue my colour exploration in another post. There’s a huge exciting world of colour out there to explore and this is only the beginning… !

16 thoughts on “Exploring Colour

  1. Well, I’m impressed, Evelyn!! You’ve done a lot of work there. That is SUCH a great exercise. I have done quite a bit too but not for a few weeks. I shall do more though as I have bought a few new colours 😊

  2. Good experiments. You are supposed to not need more than red, blue, green, black and white and get much more interesting colors from mixing your own.

  3. What a wonderfully colourful post, Evelyn! I love your experiments with colour mixing. Each picture is a little work of art in itself and a delight for the eyes. It’s amazing that you can produce the whole range of colours with so few to start with. Often one thinks of watercolour as being fairly pale and pastel, but some of the colours are so vibrant! I don’t know if you’ve come across a watercolour artist called Karen Thomas (she’s local to us) – I’ve met her several times and she was at the County Show again – her paintings are so vibrant! Here’s the link to her website: https://www.karenthomaswatercolour.com/

    I managed to do a very quick transaction and buy her book at the show, when my hubby wandered off for a few minutes – I wanted to give him an extra birthday present as a special thank you for everything I’ve put him through lately with my health scare! He was so thrilled to receive it, especially as I asked Karen to sign it for him.

    Shoshi x

    1. Thank you Margaret – I love colour and watercolour, put the two together and you get some wonderful things happening. These were actually painted on loose pieces of paper but I’m now acquiring quite a pile of assorted pieces of watercolour work. I’ll have to decide what to do with them at some point…

  4. I love the 52 color grid! And I enjoyed the way you introduced the topic, recalling the early days….thanks for the link, too – your sister? I clicked, and I liked! 😉

  5. With three colours you have a really good range. This would be a good exercise to work out a small kit for plein air painting or travel journaling. x

    1. Thank you Sunnyfae! Yes, this would be a very good exercise for working out a travel palette, so you could have the widest range of useful colours from the smallest number of pans or tubes…

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