Colour Theory

I am going to make this the first in a series of posts on colour theory that I will do over the next few months. I trust that over the course of these articles, you will gain a deeper understanding of why you are ending up with the mixing results that you are getting, and how to get closer to the colour you are aiming for. The first place to start is really with your tubes of paint. I have an exercise for you. I want you to get out every tube of paint or stick of colour that you have and make a chart of them all.  Keep all the colours together in their hue or colour family ie – red – see chart below.

Colour theory - The Reds

The Reds

This does two things for you.  Firstly it lets you see at a glance all the different colours you have, which makes matching and choosing colours easier. Secondly you can compare your different reds etc to see what their colour bias is (more on that later).

This weeks Question: Have you  got your paints out yet and made those charts?

Next Thursday’s Post: The Dance of Life

Next Monday’s Post: Colour Theory Part Two

Posted By: Kadira Jennings

Colour Workshops

Many things can be learnt from colour workshops.   The weekend before last, this is what we did.  A solid day, six hours of colour theory and practice.  By taking time out to devote to an intense day of colour mixing, you can in the course of a day, get enough of a grasp on the colour principles to become fairly confident about what you are doing.  If you are struggling with colour, then I would strongly recommend you find someone doing a workshop near you and sign up.

Colour theory - Color mixing workshop

Color workshops

Colour theory is something that many aspiring artists spend hours being confused, irritated and despairing over.  Have you ever spent time trying to mix a particular colour only to end up with a mess of mud, over and over.  Well you are not alone there and I suspect that much of the problem lies with looking at the wrong books, poor teaching, watching misleading U Tube videos and mis-labelled paint tubes. Beginning next week, I am going to be starting a series of posts on the basics of colour theory. Below are some more images from the workshop……

Colour workshops

  including some of the colour charts the students did……..

Colour Workshops - Grey scale

Grey and One Colour scales

And mixing colour tints by adding white to a colour….

Mixing tints

Mixing tints

This weeks Question: Is your Colour Theory up to scratch?

Next Thursday’s Post: The Hinchenbrook Passage

Next Monday’s Post: Colour Theory Part One

Posted By: Kadira Jennings

Color mixing  – trial and error or what?

Color mixing is one of the most elusive aspects of painting. There is so much bad information about it – everywhere.  Most of the UTube videos you watch tell you only half the story and the books on the subject are not much better.  There are very few easy to read and correct books out there on colour theory, despite the fact that there are so many of them.

This year I am going to gradually cover some aspects of this tricky subject in the hope that it may be of some help to those of you who have only a glimmering of an idea of what is really going on.

Today is just a little taste to whet your appetite and I’m going to talk about greens.  How many of you reach for a tube of store bought green when you need a green, only to find its just not quite the right shade you need and you have no clue how to get that beautiful lime green or turquoise you are needing.

To take control of your greens your color mixing skills may need a bit of a polish up.  Here’s what I’d like you to do.

Go and get your paints and get out every blue  and yellow  that you have in your paint box.

Now you need to sort them into 4 separate piles.

  1. Pile one – all the warm blues or blues that tend towards red – ie they contain a lot of violet – eg Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue.
  2. Pile two – all the cool blues or blues that tend towards green ie they contain a lot of green – eg. Pthalo Blue, Cerulean, Prussian blue, Winsor Blue, Manganese Blue.
  3. Pile three – all the cool yellows or yellows that tend towards green ie they contain a lot of green – eg. Lemon Yellow, Cadmium yellow Pale ( tends more to a cool than a warm) Winsor Lemon, Aurolean
  4. Pile four –  all the warm yellows or yellows that tend towards red – ie they contain a lot of orange – eg. Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep,

Now the key to mixing the green you want is to understand the secondary color that your blue or yellow is carrying. If you are wanting to mix bright clear greens then you need to mix colors that both have green as their secondary colour.

For example to get the brightest color green possible you would need to mix Pthalo Blue and Lemon Yellow.  Both these colours carry large amounts of extra greens within them and don’t have other colors in large enough quantities to muddy things up .

Below is a quick chart  of the colors I have on hand and what happens when you mix them.  Notice that I have labelled which yellows are cool and which ones warm etc.

Color Mixing - Greens

Mixing Greens


There is no such thing as a bad  color.  It merely is not the correct color,  not the one that you want.  I trust that my post has shown you how you can mix up any number of greens.  Let me know how you got on.

Look For Thursday’s Post: A new direction in my work

Next Monday’s Post: Enhancing Creativity

Post by : Kadira Jennings


Last Sunday I held part two of the ‘No More Mud’ colour workshop series. What a great result.  This was the first time I have presented this workshop and I’m always a bit nervous about offering something new as one never knows quite how it’s going to go.  Will it be long enough, is it too hard or too easy and all those kinds of things?

Here are some photos from the day and what some of the participants had to say about their experience.


Colour Mixing Workshop

Hard at work

‘Really enjoyed it. As I do more with colour I realise that there are many opportunities for me to use what I’ve learnt’ ………Megan Morris


Colour Values Chart

Colour Values Chart


‘Very positive. This has given me a better insight into colour when doing my painting. Yes I would recommend to others’ ……. Jan Lansdowne

Working With Tone And Colour

Working With Tone And Colour


‘Friendly and welcoming environment.  Practical experiences challenged our knowledge and gave us a more thorough  understanding of how colours worked together.’…. Stephanie Muldoon.


Limited Palette Paintings

Limited Palette Paintings

‘Incredibly valuable, a must to progress in pursuing creative expression, I would recommend both workshops 1 and 2,’ … Deborah Lhota

More Tonal Paintings With Colour

More Tonal Paintings With Colour

Thank you everyone who came and took part in making the workshop such a success.  And thank you for your positive comments.


This Weeks Question: What don’t you understand about colour and how can you find the answer to that question?



Notes On Colour Mixing


Those of you who are visual artists may have an on going difficult relationship with colour mixing. There are so many things to know and so many of the colour mixing books around make it far more complicated than it should be. I would like to share some facts with you that may be affecting your results, which you may have no idea about.
Some of the following facts are also about line and shape.

  • Contrasts intensify each other.
  • Hues next to each other will make the complement of the other colour appear to a certain extent e.g.  if red and yellow are next to other the yellow will appear slightly greener (green being the compliment of the red) and the red will appear slightly more violet or purple (purple being the compliment of yellow).
  • When you have a spot of grey on a red background, the opposite or complimentary of the colour  will be induced, thus making the the grey appear greenish.


There are as many opinions about black as there are artists in the world I suspect. To forget about black altogether is like leaving  an important ingredient out of a recipe simply because you don’t like it. Like all the other colours, black too has its place.

  • Black makes colours placed next to it appear brighter and if  it totally surrounds the colour the colour will also appear bigger than it is. We can often see this effect in stained glass windows.
Red squares on black and white

Red squares on black and white

  • Observe how the red square on a white background appears smaller and duller than the red square on the black ground even though both squares are the exact same size and value.

We can mix a black with other colours such as Viridian and Cadmium red or Pthalo blue and Burnt Umber.  These blacks will always give more life to your painting than a black straight out of the tube as you can vary the amounts of each colour to give your black interest.


This week’s question: How do you use black in your work, if at all? If not would you consider adding it to your tool box ?


No More Mud – Let’s demystify colour mixing

Workshop – Part One 


Colour Workshop

 This is a one day workshop in colour mixing from the ground up. Colour mixing explained in very simple terms with hands on practice and a work book to go with it.  I will be publishing the workbook within the next few weeks as an ebook, so if you are unable to attend the workshop stay tuned!!

Are you frustrated with your colour mixing efforts? If so this is a must do session to get your colour under control!

  • You will go away with a very clear idea of not only basic colour mixing but also a clear understanding of terms like Hue, Value,Complimentary Colours, and what this all means in regards to any given painting you might do.
  • You will also learn what happens when you don’t get it right, as it is my belief that this is just as, if not more important than getting it right. If you don’t know why you’ve ended up with mud then how can you possibly fix it.
  • Understanding the science of colour mixing makes your life so much easier when you are painting. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and saves you dollops of time and money in the long run.
  • Experience the joy of getting the colour you want to see on your palette rather than a muddy version of it.
  • You learn to gauge which particular colours you need and the relative strength of each one.

I ran this workshop last year and here is what others thought about it…..

“Great place for me to start. Lots of practice to do at home. I will definitely come for more workshops.” Kim C

“Definitely informative – practical info that will definitely be used and referred to in class and future art works.  Great to learn basics.”  Stephanie M

“Really helpful learning, fun and relaxed environment.  I’d definitely recommend this workshop to others.  The stand out for me? ‘The Book’ – a great reference to keep and the ‘hands on’ which helped to bring the learning to life. ” Marg H

WHERE IS IT? : The Arts Barn Kariong. 2 Dandaloo St, Kariong –  See Google Map in sidebar

WHEN IS IT? :   Sunday 19th August 2012

WHAT TIME IS IT?  Start sharp at 9am – Finishing between 4 and 4.30pm


If you are interested please contact me on 04144 38121 and I will give you the details for payment and the materials list and other information you might need.

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