Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Color wheels and Color Bias - a Lesson Learned

Last night I posted about icy conditions.  Well let me tell you - at my house there is no ice.  But it is still raining!  I am definitely tired of the rain!  But I have done a bit of painting today with more planned...

Color Wheel Assignment:

Colors used: Cad Red Medium, Cad Yellow Medium, and Cobalt Blue.  These were the acrylics we were to procure for this class (along with Titanium White & Mars Black)

 These were of course acquired.  (The reason 2 are Liquitex and one is Winsor & Newton is because the art store was out of Cad Yellow in Liquitex).  And the color mixing began.

The lighting is awful because it's such a grey overcast day and I was losing what light I did have.  Sorry about that.  But the essential thing is... look how "muddy" and "muted" and "dark" my colors are.  The only bright color is my Cad Yellow.  Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled.  However, I'd forgotten a very very important color mixing rule...


Many years ago I painted in oils exclusively.  I used to actually know this, but I'd forgotten all about it.

Now, what on earth do I mean by this?  Well, it's very simple... all colors have a color bias.  Now what on earth is a color bias?  All colors have a bias towards another color - this is due to the chemical impurities in the found within the pigments.  Some have a green bias (mixed with white to create a ‘tint’ they will go towards green) while others have an orange bias, or blue, or purple, or red, or whatever.

Ok, so now that we know that colors have a bias, what do we do with that knowledge?  We mix the correct paints, that's what!

For more information, please check out: Will Kemp's Art School - The Hidden Secret of Colour Mixing He's got some great information listed on his website about color mixing - which paints have which bias, how to mix perfect greens, purples, and pinks, and a whole lot more!

And no, I promise I didn't just get paid for plugging Will Kemp.  He's just really thorough with his explanations, his videos are short and easy to follow, and he does a great job of explaining things!

So what I'd done wrong with my original color wheel was to use Cad Red Medium which has an orange bias and Cobalt Blue which has a blue bias.  What did we learn in elementary art?  That complementary colors will "mute/muddy/tone down" each other.  So using a Blue and Orange gave me a really awful muted purple.  Great for eggplants, but not quite what I wanted on my color wheel.

Cad Red and Cad Yellow work great together and make some very saturated oranges.

However, Cobalt Blue and Cad Yellow (medium) do not make really great greens.  They're muted.  So anyway, go check out Will Kemp.

I got ticked off because I knew my colors weren't mixing well together, so I did a little internet research.  I looked at various paint kits (the ones that have 3 or 6 or 12 or whatever different tubes in them) and individual paints trying to "shop around" and compare prices.  Since I am impatient as hell, I didn't want to wait for something to get shipped, even over night, so I hopped in the car at 9:45 this morning and headed to the art store.  In the rain.  Watching minutely for ice patches.

I get to the art store with a list of proper biased paints to hand when lo and behold, I find this little gem:

For the bargain basement price of $35.00!  But wait!  There's more!  I had a 50% off coupon granting me the grand total of less than $19.  It included all the colors I needed plus any other color I could ever need!  The tubes are small though - 22ml or 0.74 US fl oz.  But, definitely enough to get started and do what I need to do today.  Let's just put it this way... I was stoked!

Because I couldn't find a proper comprehensive list of what this kit included online, which was aggravating (or any kit just about for that matter), I will do y'all the solid of including one myself.  Who knows, it might be helpful to someone out there...

From top left:

  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Alizarin Crimson Hue Permanent
  • Primary Red
  • Cadmium Red Light Hue
  • Cadmium Orange Hue
  • Red Oxide
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Raw Sienna
  • Yellow Oxide
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue
  • Primary Yellow
  • Light Green Permanent
  • Hooker's Green Hue Permanent
  • Phthalocyanine Green (Phthalo Green)
  • Cerulean Blue Hue
  • Cobalt Blue Hue
  • Primary Blue
  • Phthalocyanine Blue (Green Shade) (Phthalo Blue)
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Ivory Black
  • Titanium White

With new paint in hand, I started a new color wheel.  Please forgive me as my "wheel" is really awfully drunk.  I was distracted and not paying that much attention to it's main layout.

 Don't drink (coffee) & paint!  It has funny consequences!

Yeah, my wheel is whack.  Oh well!  Anyway, I'm very happy with it because my greens are vibrant, my purples are purple-y, and my oranges are lovely.  I decided to be adventurous and see just what Primary Red, Yellow, and Blue would do out of this pack.  I'm actually very pleased as they give a pleasant "this-is-what-it-looked-like-on-my-elementary-color-wheel" and they mix very very well.

I am positively unsure what the equivalents are.  The yellow is probably Cadmium Yellow Light.  The red, I'm not sure.  It's not Cad Red Light as it's not orange-y enough.  You can tell this especially in my palette on the left hand side where the pinks are.  Cad Red Light tints to a salmon/orange-y pink.  Not this great pink-pink.  And Quinacridone Magenta/Red makes tints to a vivid hot pink.  Maybe Cad Red Medium, but that's not quite right, either.  And it's not Napthol Crimson either.  So I'm just not sure.  But it's great any way.  *****I just checked the Liquitex Color Chart, which lists pigments in each of their colors and according to that, primary red is made with: Quinacridone Violet (PV 19).  So there ya go.  If you want to check the Chart, here's the link: Liquitex Basics Color Chart) And the blue, I would have thought ultramarine or phthalo blue by its masstone (color straight from the tube), but again... I'm not certain.

Anyway.  The point of this entire post is this:  Be wary of what colors you're using to mix.  It won't always turn out to be what you thought it would be.

I've still got one more assignment for this week to do, so I better get started!

See y'all later!

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