Colour – Its all about colour!  Here’s  5  easy things that usually help me to get a better painting. It really doesn’t matter if  I’m painting in acrylics, oils, watercolours either!

daniel smith paints
Colours

1. Colour creates  the mood

I choose the kind of mood and atmosphere I want, then  select the colours that will enhance and ‘set the stage.’  Lets say I’d like a cool, misty, distant atmosphere – then I’d choose soft delicate greys, off whites, blue greys and maybe grey greens. All in paler softer tones, not too stark and contrasty.   Or perhaps a bright sunny day feeling would have strong cobalt sky, warm burnt sienna earth, olive green foliage, perhaps a stark white tree trunk.  These colours evoke a completely  different mood.

2. Opaques and warms together  may lead to mud for Beginners

If you’re just starting and are a Beginner, colour mixing skills are still enough of a challenge at the moment.  Its likely that when mixing opaque paints (i.e.  cadmiums, yellow ochre, naples yellow, etc)  and  warms (paints with red bias)    together   that the end result mix is muddy.  Try using Stainers and Transparents which are less likely to produce murky mixes.

3.  Mix your very own colours

You can create and mix far better colours and get far better paintings by doing so than having to spend more money on Tube greens/blacks/purples. These colours out of the tube, esp the greens, are too harsh looking for the natural environment landscapes. Fine for Abstracts.  But pure hooker’s green, phalo green, stuck on the canvas as tree foliage – does not blend in to the natural landscape. Prussian blue mixed with winsor lemon is excellent so too Prussian mixed with Quinacridone gold – its Beautiful!!  Ultramarine mixed with Permanent Alizarin is a superior purple, very vibrant.  Permanent Alizarin mixed with Phalo Green will give you a sleek silky Black!   I’ve had lots of fun – doing sheets and sheets and sheets of nothing colour mix experimentations. Its the way I learned.

3 Tube Mixes by debiriley.com
3 Tube Mixes by debiriley.com

4.    Create distance by colour placement

Just by using the right sequencing, you can create the illusion of depth, distance and perspective. Amazing, and easy!   Place your Warm colour in front of the Cooler colour. Warms lean to red/Cools lean to blue.   The sequence I might typically use, background to foreground: grey, lavender-grey,  blue, green, olive, yellow, orange, red.   Also as I come forward, I make the tones stronger, deeper, darker.

5.  White saves the day!

Big generous white  borders  will  change the perception!   I may have gone just a bit silly with my lovely paints and have colours splashed everywhere on the canvas. The result is a tad too much mid and darks with not enough Light……  I need a way to Resolve this.  Giving  it a super sized white border  makes it look as though the ratio is improved.   This  usually retrieve the painting and give it more  Light and  ‘space.’

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