Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Textiles 1 Stage 3 Mixing Colours

Mixing colours with designers gouache

This exercise was to practice mixing colours. I starting by using designers gouache as I knew I would have the correct colours for this, having bought what was listed in the course work file.

Making a colour circle
The first part was to paint the colours of a colour circle, and I did that as well as I could, but realised pretty quickly that there were more possible colours than the ones I had chosen if I used every combination of the 6 colours I had. I also realised quickly that I needed to find a way of labelling each colour I mixed to help me to use the information gathered in this exercise in future. I used the numbers of the paint colours according to the manufacturer.

Adding white
The next part of the exercise was to choose a few of the clearest colours and add white.
I assume that the reason for choosing the clearest is because they are most likely to remain clear rather than getting rapidly too dark or grey to be distinguished. This is from my reading of the Colour Workshop introduction, which implies this. I chose the clear colours that appealed to me most - orange made from cadmium red and cadmium yellow, an emerald green, cadmium yellow itself and ultramarine.

Adding white to clear colours seems to not only lighten them but to a certain extent changes the colour eg red to pink, in a way which is not necessarily intuitive to me. This revelation added to my fear that I am not a natural colour person and that I may have to spend an extra long time on this section.

Adding black
Then I added black to each of the colours I had chosen. It was quickly obvious that black paint has a very strong pigment that overwhelms anything else in the paint, so they all ended up being black.

Adding grey
Then I added grey (ie black and white in various combinations) to these colours, which resulted in some lovely subtle colours. I particularly liked the colours resulting from adding grey to the yellow and green.

Adding the complementary colour
Finally, I added the complementary colour. I wasn't always sure of which shade was the complementary one. And sometimes the complementary colour was a mixture of two others, which left me the decision about how much of each to add to it. (I think I made a mistake with the Ultramarine, thinking its complementary colour was lemon yellow when it should have been an orange). But when I did it right, this resulted in a variety of lovely browns, some of them greenish/ khakhi and some more orangey/ rusty. It kind of clicked for me when I realised that adding enough of the complementary colour led me round to the line of colours on the other side of the circle!

I started to realise that this is how people know what to mix together to get a particular colour. That the more I did of it the more useful information (and if I am lucky more 'intuition' about this). And I  enjoyed doing this colour mixing so much that I did more columns of other colours - cerulean blue and a purple.

Using Designers Gouache
I found the designers gouache paints were not very forgiving if I left water on my brush. That made the paints run, be irregular in their pigment, and look washed out. If there was no water on the brush at all the paint was difficult to put onto the paper smoothly. I love the richness and softness of the colours they make though. And the way they dry very quickly is useful when I'm working in my sketchbook.

Using Watercolours
I tried mixing more colours with watercolour paints. I had less variety to choose from, and made the colour wheel as best I could from what I had, which did not require me to mix any colours but gave me a slightly inaccurate range of blues and purples.

Mixing colours with watercolour paints

I think the colours weren't changed quite as much by adding white. Can that be true?
I didn't do the black/grey part of the exercise because I didn't have a black.
Perhaps I could have made up a 'black' by mixing colours together. I think that is suggested in the Colour Workshop book. I will look it up and see if I have time to do some of the exercises in it during this section.

The complementary colours were again very interesting, but much more difficult to judge for these colours which were provided already mixed, than with the colours I mixed myself in the gouache section. The result is a couple of nice greens rather than the browns I expected.

I stopped there because I didn't think I was learning what I wanted to learn using pre-mixed paints. I loved the feel of painting with these watercolour paints, though, and was surprised to find how rich the colours could be if I didn't add much water. There was none of the difficulty or blotchiness of the gouache paints, and they went onto the paper very smoothly each time.

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