Understanding colour

Exercise: Mixing greys – anachromatic scale

The blacker end of the scale is easier to mix up than the white end, for some reason! I seem to end up with more black-greys than white-greys. It seemed easier to mix with a smaller brush. Going to try again this time making sure I have more pale greys…..I conclude that black is much more dominant and the addition of white is very subtle. I can almost see a blueness to some of the greys. The mid grey looks paler next to the black and darker almost black next to the white.

I was wondering if it is just me that sees mid greys with a blueness to them, but then  I remembered that there are some cats called Russian blues that are a silver grey, so I conclude not. 🙂


Chroma – intensity of colour

Tone – light or dark

Hue – the way one colour is distinguised from another.

Having laid out all my yellows I identify a lack of yellows, this will be redressed when  get down to the art shop next week. Cadium yellow seems the mid tone and chroma I have.

I have a lot more blues. Having laid them all the ultramarine ones seem the most intense, true blues to me. Colbat blues seem lighter, less chroma (is that how you use this word?!)I am wondering if my grey ground is a bit too dark….I have chosen ‘ultramarine blue no 4’

I have 4 true reds. Some appear to me orangey or blue hued. So which is the truest red?


I think I am going to have to repeat this exercise with a lighter shade of grey ground.

So – starting again on a lighter grey ground. I identify cadmium yellow as the truest yellow I have, although as stated I need more yellows!

I have a lot of blues.I have a couple of ultramarines, and they seem to me the truest blue. I tried mixing some white in to the colours, they almost change into each other, so the ultramarine looks more like the colbalts.  I am drawn to the prussian blue, especially when mixed with some white.

The cadmium reds tend be be orange based and the crimson reds seem blue based. You can see this clearly with the addition of white. I have one that does not have a name, but seems a balance between the two, so maybe this is the best primary red.

So I now have my 3 most intense colours.

I question why this is being done on a grey ground….the mid way oranges of the yellow-red works well, however the midway red-blue is a murky not quite violet colour. I like the range of greens thrown up between the yellow and blue. I had to add white to the yellow at the start as it didn’t show up with enough intensity. this is why I question the grey ground.

Adding white, mid way between red and blue is very brown. I find it hard to maintain tonal values the same. Between green and blue are some bright greens which work well.

I worked between green/blue and red/orange and also emerald green and violet. The colours between green and violet are quite dark and blue and a bit murky. I understand these are broken/tertiary colours. I think it will be useful to have these scales pinned up on the wall where I work.

Exercise: Complementary colours

So I have drawn up my circle for the colour wheel…took me a while as maths is not my strong point 😦 . I am not unhappy with my first attempt, but I may try another for the practice of mixing colours. I can see this is such a good learning process, although I am now yearning to be actually painting something.20161024_171231

I have done another colour wheel, this is slightly better. I laid down a grey ground opposite and dabbed some of the colours and their complementary colours next to them, then mixed them together. These tertiary colours tend to browns, greyish greens… very similar in fact I think. I am not sure I matched the tones very well, and may need to repeat this at some stage. The brightness of the colours seem to cancel each other out somehow when they are mixed…?


I think the complementary colours enhance and contrast the other’s colour, both appear more vivid and pleasing to the eye. 




Author: Wendy Kate

Happily sharing my life in Spain with a tall bearded man from Dorset.

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