Monday, April 23, 2007

Color Chart

Yesterday I was getting ready to start a new painting. I have a couple of new tubes of paint that I wanted to use. So, before getting down to business, I decided to make a color chart. The purpose of a color chart is to show what hue is achieved when two paints are mixed together.

The first time I made a color chart I was taking a beginner's watercolor class at my local community college. The color chart was one of the class assignments. I still have that chart and refer to it whenever I need mixing guidance. For instance, if I am painting a landscape and need a variety of cool and warm greens.

Making a color chart is easy. First list each of your paint names in a column on the left hand side of a piece of watercolor paper. Then list the same paints in the same order in a row across the top of the paper. Draw horizontal and vertical lines to create the structure of your table. I use a ruler when I draw my lines only because crooked lines might slowly drive me crazy. If you are mentally more stable than I, feel free to make your lines freehand.

Now start filling in the chart. Make a mix using the paints listed in the first column and the first row and paint in the corresponding square. Continue making each new mix on your palette and painting in the appropriate square. You may notice that, aside from the pure colors which form a diagonal from the top left to the bottom right, each mix occurs twice in the chart. You can choose to paint in half the chart and still have each of the mixes, but I find the second square gives me a chance to darken or lighten my mix or adjust it if I didn't quite mix equal parts of each color.

Here is the color chart I made. The paints I used are all Winsor Newton paints. The colors are Terre Verte (yellow shade), Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Sepia, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber. This is my first time using Terre Verte and I found that it has a very low tinting strength.

So before you start your next painting, I encourage you to create your own color chart for the colors you will be using. Or, if you are feeling really ambitious, make a chart using all of your paints. It is a great learning experience and you will be amazed at all the wonderful hues you can mix.


bluelilac said...

Thanks for sharing your colour chart today.
Such a lovely range of colours. I might try my tulips with watercolours and see how many greens I can get from maybe three shades.

Love Blue

Anonymous said...

Good advice! One of these days I'll get around to following it...

Jeanette said...

Colour swatches can be works of art in their own right I believe. However, like knitting test swatches before starting a full pattern, I tend to jump straight in instead.

Stacy said...

Thanks blue, Dave and Jeanette!

Truth be told I don't normally do a color chart either. I have a bunch of new paint colors that weren't on my original chart. Adding then has been on the To Do list for some time.

But my current painting is of a metal (bronze?) statue and I wasn't at all sure how to achieve the correct color. I painted most of the statue last night and this color chart really made it easier. Less guesswork!