Lessons in Color Theory


Going back to basics and painting with primary watercolors

In this journey to reclaim my artistic self, I must tell you it has been an interesting one.  I have found multiple ways to welcome other projects or ideas to occupy my time. This often leaves me exhausted to create much of anything.  

I was purposely putting myself on overload and when I finally recognized this pattern, I realized it was fear. Scared that a talent I once had may have completely vanished or that I would have to work harder than normal to allow my creative self to resurface.

Perhaps I was simply afraid of failing and as I stumbled through my thoughts I remembered, it is art… Others will either love or hate it and I'm okay with that. It has taken me a long time to feel artistically confident, but I knew at some point I would get on track by accepting not everyone would be interested.

I also knew I had to get back to basics.  So, I recently decided to scroll YouTube to find an instructor who could grab my attention in color theory.  That sounds pretty basic but mixing in watercolor is very different than oils or acrylic.

learning to mix all my colors using the primary ingredients of yellow, blue and red.

Lessons in Primary Colors

I found an awesome person from abroad who has been teaching watercolor painting for 30 years.  He explains things with a funky accent but brings life to what we can see in addition to what we need to learn.

He shares a story in this video about one of his first art classes where the teacher had them use only three colors.  The primary colors and let me tell you upfront this is a game changer. He covers the difference between intensity and temperature and how to expand your mixing.

I use “Winsor Newton” paints; the theory is to begin with three hues and learn to mix your own secondary, tertiary and complimentary colors.  I have linked the three for your convenience.  
It was a great afternoon and I probably watched that video a couple of times because I wanted to let what he was saying sink in. I also decided to keep a booklet handy for future mixing. It's loaded with empty pages so when I decide to mix new colors, I can test them first to see what they will look like on paper after they dry.

I am now looking at nature in a completely different light. I try to figure out how much of one hue I need to create a certain shade and it can be kind of tricky.  It's also pretty fun!

If you have a desire to begin with watercolors, I highly recommend starting this way especially if you are trying to paint from the reflection of nature.

I used what I learned in mixing to see how mixing with primaries would unfold.

Primary Mixing and Colors Separating

He also mentioned when you mix a certain color like, green it can separate when you add it to paper. I was curious about that and experimented the other night while I was playing around with this fantasy flower.  This is actually a good example because the stem dried in a way that I never thought possible. 

My fantasy flower will probably end up in the fire pit and that's okay because not everything we create will be a masterpiece. Each piece has its place to possibly bring us out of our comfort zone to reach even higher.  My lesson in color theory is here to stay and I’m excited to see what comes next.

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