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Part 2, Close to home, Complementary colours




For this exercise, I was to draw a circle divide it into 12 parts and and mix the colours from Chevreuls colour circle or wheel beginning with primary re, red-orange and so on.

Next I had to consider the twelve colours from Chevreuls colour circle and lay each colour next to its opposite or complementary on a grey ground. Try to match the darker tone to the lighter by adding white. Then I had to make mixtures of each pair of complementary colours and describe the resulting colour.

One thing that I have notice was I didn’t seem to be able to match tones as easy on a grey ground I found this very difficult as can be seen its easier when I look at the colour wheel which does emphasis Chevruels view that adjacent colours can alter the tone. I do a lot of work in black and white and found it really disturbing that I find it so hard to do with colour on a grey.

As can be seen with the mix of the pair of complementary colours I managed to get the tone a little better, hopefully a learning curve and not letting the grey ground influence my tone. When mixing complementary colours in relatively even amounts the colours in the main went to a version of brown, well nearly all, blue and orange was more a grey because of the lack of red pigment and the yellow purple to green beige in relation to the amount of red in the purple. I have noticed Complementary colours are just that and complement one another, enhancing each other’s visual appearance.


Painting 1, Understanding Colour, Broken or tertiary colours

For this exercise, I was to make a scale between an orange red and a green blue. Try to maintain consistent tonal values across the scale by adding a little white. At the midpoint add more white, the result should be grey. It goes on to say this is known as a broken or tertiary colour and this type of colour makes up the appearance of much of our world. Then I was to make a carefully graded scale between a pair of secondary colours like Orange to violet once again the middle colours should lose Chroma.

I have tried reading up about this and can’t find the term broken applied in the way I am reading it so, my only interpretation of this is the colours are laid side by side as in the broken application of paint used by the Impressionist. It is fascinating how colours react, secondary colours do seem to be muddy in areas, the first few steps from the original colour seem to be the most clear. The primary colours do behave better when mixed giving a less muddy appearance.

I applied more white in the centre of both exercises the primary exercise became a blue grey  the secondary was a beige, which went with the muddy look form the mixing of the colours. For both exercised tone appeared to be relatively even I was surprised as this was the first attempt and totally by eye, I don’t find keeping tone similar very easy.  Exercises like this can be fun and a good way to learn about the colours we are using and how to mix them so it is an exercise worth practicing especially as different makes of paint can behave differently.

Painting 1, Exercise Primary and secondary colour mixing

colour scale xxx

black and white


This exercise was more complicated, I had to identify my primary colours then arrange them on my palette in yellow, reds, and blues. I had previously, as requested prepared a coloured ground using my neutral grey and I was first to lay all my yellows, then blues, and reds next to each other and I was to notice the different shade of each colour and identify the most intense in each one.

Unfortunately, I don’t have many colours to choose from and felt I may not be able to do this exercise well, but I experimented with the colours I had and felt I learnt just as much from the few colours I owned, as I would with many. It really made me look at the variations between each colour well.

The colours that I thought were my most intense were Canary Yellow, Rouge, and Cobalt Blue.

I then had to make a scale from Yellow through to Red, Yellow through to Blue and the Red through to Blue. I was to make a note of how midway along the scale of Yellow to Red produces the secondary colour Orange. Yellow to Blue produced Green, however the Red to Blue produces a muddy looking colour which isn’t Violet. I feel this was achieved, I was then to try other hues to achieve violet. I tried different versions with the limited colours I had and feel it would have worked better if my Ultramarine Blue hadn’t been Green shade. In the end, I found a mix of Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue, tinted with a very small amount of Purple to soften the green worked the best. This can be seen top right. I found this exercise fun and a great learning curve of how hues with just a tint of another can make a dramatic difference.

The last part of this exercise I am not sure I did correct, but I believe I was to repeat the first three exercises adding enough white to my chosen primary’s to maintain a consistent tonal value. I did this by putting three equal amounts of white on my palette and adding enough of each colour to produce what I felt was the same tonal value.  Midway between the Red and Blue scale the pigment was supposed to look Brownish Grey, mine was more like a Pink Grey, I feel if I had added more pigment this tone could have been achieved better.

I changed everything to greyscale and was surprised by how close in tonal value some of the scales were, in fact a previous exercise was closer in tonal value than the last three which I tried to keep the same. It was an eye opener as I do a lot of Graphite work that relies on the use of tonal value and I expected to have better judgement. The Yellow had a greater difference in tonal value than the Red and Blue which were similar this I think made trying to keep the tonal value the same difficult.


Part 1 Overlaying Washes

orange on red dry
second colour over first dried colur


red on orange dry
Something went wrong with this red over dried orange.

Above are various exercised tried out using wet in wet and wet on dry applications of paint

For this Exercise I was to use the dry papers from the last Exercise, make up the same colour mixes only this time paint the second colour over the dried wash that I set aside. I was to notice the different ways the colour behaved and make note in my learning log. For Example

Does this method give you greater control?

Have the colours merged in the same way?

How could I employ these techniques of building coloured glazes?

After I was to practices what I had learned with some of my other colours. I was to finish up by looking at Mark Rothko and the interactive tour with the Tate.

There are numerous factors that are involved in how this exercise goes, from thickness of wash, gradient of paper, type of paper, wet on wet, wet on dry.  Wet on wet if done on a slant mingles with the second colour and you get happy accidents within the mix as can be seen within the previous exercise. How well it mixes does I have found depend on the colour pigment used. The most definitely don’t all act the same way, even within type of colour Ultramarine Blue is far more grainy and unpredictable than Cerulean Blue which flows more even when doing a wash.

Working wet on dry is altogether different, rather than mixing and having a range of colours by merging mixes, you get a very vivid colour either end with a slight tint of the second colour and a gradation rather than a mix.

The exercise of wet on dry I tried out from my original paper didn’t work, I have no idea why although the orange over red worked better, the uptake on the paper was odd, it could possibly be because the paint was left in pots overnight and hadn’t fared well. However the orange and red both contained Alizarin Crimson a colour which didn’t work as well with the previous exercise. However I tried out numerous sheets of various applications and paper some worked some didn’t. I think Acrylic this watered down is far more unpredictable than watercolour paint, however like watercolour it does work better on watercolour paper. I painted one sheet of watercolour on some old watercolour paper I had and it works so much better when applying as a glaze, the piece I painted was wet in wet and can be seen second from the left top line.

Above are a selection of some of the exercises I have done including the two original ones that didn’t work.

Wet on Wet and Wet on Dry applications will have their different and similar effects which could be used for various reasons especially where a gradient is needed or wet in wet gives a feathery look which would be good in skies, petals, water whilst layered washes can give a glow from an under colour that just can’t be got by a single colour it adds depth and texture and will be able to be used for various reasons, like stone, paintwork, sky and so on.

I looked at Mark Rothko and whilst his work is not something I particularly like I must say after the exercise I can see the fascination on his use of colours.

Part 1, What paint can do, Tonally graded wash


For this exercise I had to set my paper lengthways choose a strong colour and with a small amount of colour work in water. With a medium wide brush work from the top to the bottom of the sheet with increasingly dilute mixes of the colour until, at the bottom of my sheet I had a very pale wash almost faded out to white. After practising find another colour that is close to the original in the spectrum and paint graded washes on at least two more sheets.

Next work wet in wet paint a graded wash onto one of the sheets that has the first colour. Keep the intense tone of the new colour at the pale end of the first colour and allow the colours to merge in the centre.

First I didn’t have any watercolour paper so had to use a mixed media paper, however it worked well enough to do the exercises. I taped them down to a board but on removal they are still buckled so didn’t work as well as a well stretched watercolour paper. I tried applying the colour to the paper dry on the first exercises then adding water as I went down to dilute the paint as I went, in the main this worked well and I got a gradual lessoning of colour. However it works better when the first line of colour is applied to damp paper as can be seen in the large wet in wet exercise sheet. The Crimson pigment in the dilute Acrylic didn’t lay that even so it wasn’t as smooth as I could wish, it was slightly better with the orange though it had a mix of Crimson and Cadmium Yellow so wasn’t perfect.

The wet in wet didn’t work too well as by the time I had turned the paper around the Acrylic had dried when my wash got to the merge stage. I had slight merging of colour but you could still see a dry line. I found a larger offcut of paper and tried again, first I wet the paper and then applied the Crimson, turned the paper around and applied the Orange and got some nice fingers of mixing colour in the centre, rather like high summer cloud washing over the blue sky.

I am finding the experiments fun and a great way to learn about the properties and art of using Acrylic paint. I think in future when I get my off cuts of watercolour paper I will repeat the process and see how the paint behaves on a better support.

Basic Paint Application-Painting with Pastels




pastel 1


For this exercise I was to try an exercise with pastels if I had them. Pastels are both drawing and a painting medium, and nowadays are used more in the latter category. The application of oil pastel and soft pastel is very different, particularly in relation to painting:

Oil pastel is usually used with turps and can be used to layer and blend.

Soft pastel picks up the tooth of the support and can be blended with paint using a damp cloth or brush and water scumbling techniques.

Large areas can be covered with the side of a stick, lay one colour over the other and blend colours and tones. The points can be used for linear details.

I was to practise making marks and blending with pastels and if I had time make a simple picture.

I had some old oil sticks which I had never  used and about 6 water soluble colours, but no turps.

A few techniques were attempted using sticks in various ways, making a number of marks using the point and the side of the sticks and blending with various methods, fingers, kitchen roll, baby oil (no turps), and water which I blended the water soluble crayons with. I also drew two rough pictures using just about all the above. The one thing I found was finer work without adapting the sticks or using turps was difficult and it made me use it vary lose in application.

I didn’t use chalk pastels as they are something I have used a lot in Drawing 1 so I wanted to try out the oil crayons as they were new to me and I wanted to try out using them. They are a lot more versatile than I realised, so will attempt using them again in the future.