Primary and Secondary Colour Mixing

20/04/15

Primary and Secondary Colour Mixing

For this exercise I decided to use acrylic paints to enable a quicker drying time.  I have a mixture of student and artist quality paint which may or may not affect the results or strength of colour.

Tasks involved:

  • Use the previously determined neutral grey as the ground colour for the mixes
  • Notice the hue (how one colour is distinguished from another), the chroma (intensity of colour) and the tone of these pigments.
  • Identify the primary colours within my range of pigments by selecting the most intense yellow, blue and red.
  • Make a scale of each: yellow to red, yellow to blue and red to blue.
  • Mix differing hues to create a true violet.

Below are two photographs of the same board of colour mixes, one taken inside and the other taken outside, both being natural daylight, however, each describes the colours differently. I thought this was interesting to see how the type of light affects how we view (or the camera views) the exact same sample of colour.

Primary & Secondary Colour Mixing Photograph taken inside with natural light Acrylic on A2 cartridge paper with neutral grey ground

Primary & Secondary Colour Mixing
Photograph taken inside with natural light
Acrylic on A2 cartridge paper with neutral grey ground

Primary & Secondary Colour Mixing Photograph taken outside with natural light Acrylic on A2 cartridge paper with neutral grey ground

Primary & Secondary Colour Mixing
Photograph taken outside with natural light
Acrylic on A2 cartridge paper with neutral grey ground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes have been made next to the mixes and should be viewable within the photographs.

Observations:
Whilst sorting through my paints I found a manufacturer’s technical sheet describing their paint colours and the pigments used to create them.  There is an industry standard code for all pigments consisting of, usually, two letters and a number, eg PR108 for Cadmium Red. As the rest of the leaflet was helpfully in French, a little beyond my basic conversational standard, I feel I can assume that P is for pigment and R is for red and the number is the specific shade.  This really helped me understand, specifically, the difference between many student and artist quality paints and how a shade is mixed.  I am sure that this is a little simplistic and ratios etc are key, however, for my immediate purposes I found it very useful.

Regarding the student and artist quality differences, I discovered for example that an artist quality paint of Cerulean (or Coeruleum) Blue is made up of PB28 Cobalt Blue and PG50 Cobalt Green, yet the student quality (of the brand I have) consisted of PB15.3 Pthalo Blue, PW5 Barium Sulphate a white and PY184 Bismuth Vanadate Yellow!  As the cobalts are reassuringly expensive, I would guess that this is a cost-effective way of creating the colour.

I had received my tutor’s critique of my Assignment 1 work and for the final painting, he had suggested that my use of black contributed to the deadening of colour as a result.  Whilst I agreed that the colour was indeed flat and didn’t describe the green glass of the bottle successfully, I was pretty sure I hadn’t used black.  However, whilst doing this exercise I thought I may have inadvertently used black in a brand mixed paint.  Convinced this was the case, I researched the most obvious culprit, Prussian Green. Sadly, I discovered that this is composed of Pthalo Blue PB15 and Isoindolinone Yellow PY110, it appears it was just my dodgy colour mixing after all!

I am sure that all this must leave some people cold, however, I find it extremely interesting, there is, as well as manufacturers’ specific “colour cocktail” sites, a website called The Colour of Art Pigment Database

http://www.artiscreation.com/Color_index_names.html

which is most helpful.

21/04/15

The next task in this exercise was to:

  • Make scales of colours using the same sequence but maintain consistent tonal value by adding a little white. (The blues and greens should have the same tonal value as yellow).
Primary & Secondary Colour Mixing Maintaining a consistent tone Acrylic on neutral grey ground

Primary & Secondary Colour Mixing
Maintaining a consistent tone
Acrylic on neutral grey ground

I enjoyed doing this, however, it was quite draining! It took most of the day to create the previous mixing samples and I’m glad I left this to the next day to produce.  I found I had to be very methodical, mixing with a palette knife and ensuring that my brush was always clean of the previous mix. (It was a little wasteful as adding white increased the volume of paint in the palette and I found I had to push away quantities to avoid making more and more mixture (note to self if/when I repeat this or similar exercises), I did however, try to use the left over paint for coloured grounds for future work.) In order to achieve a consistent tone, I held each mix against the yellow (for yellow to red and yellow to blue) and squinted my eyes, where the two colours appeared to merge tonally, I knew that the tone was similar. Occasionally, I can see I misjudged this, again by squinting at the scale in the photograph ie

  • Yellow to red – 7th swatch from the right is too dark and the last swatch is a little too light.
  • Yellow to blue – this seemed to cause the most trouble, (from the left) swatches 12 & 14 are too dark, 19 & 23 are too light.
  • Red to blue – fairly consistent (ish) until the last few blues which have too much white.

I am confident I understood and got the principle here yet this does make my eyes very tired and it’s not an exercise that can be rushed.

 

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