Monday, March 16, 2015

Color Charts for Painters

It’s easy to make your own color charts with your own paints. The photo above shows one method of making a color chart.  These are Winsor & Newton Artisan water mixable oil paints.  The company puts out a chart too with teeny tiny photos of the colors.  I drew straight lines with a ruler and permanent marker on 9” X 12” gessoed canvas paper (these come in a pad and are not too expensive).

Since I was just interested in seeing what the colors looked like in a larger view, I did one chart for each group of colors. I also did one for the neutrals, but it is not shown here.  Across the top row I wrote the color name and noted if the color was opaque (“O”) or transparent (“T”).  I painted the actual colors in that color family on the second row.  On the third row down, I added transparent white to each color.  On the fourth row down, I chose yellow ochre to mix with it on some of the charts.  The other rows vary depending on what I wanted to see. (You can enlarge the photo above by clicking on it).

I took a color mixing class in acrylic paints a few years back. The charts we made there were more about color mixing. These were done on acrylic paper. (photo below)

Top left chart shows primary colors, red on left in box 1, yellow in middle box 3, blue on right in box 5.  Other charts are variations on color mixing.  Most of them show the first row had one color on the left (box #1) and the one we wanted to mix it with in box #5 on the right. Then we mixed the two colors together 50/50 and put that mix in box #3. Again mixed box #3 with #1 into #2; then #5 (original color) and mix #3 into #4.  The second row down were the top row mixes mixed with titanium white. The third row down contained the first row’s mixes mixed with neutral gray; and the fourth row down contained the top row’s mixes mixed with black.  These can be done with any medium, not just acrylic paints. I added some other mixes in box #6 to see what they looked like.

Basically, most of us know that when we mix blue and yellow, we get green. But with pigments there are many yellows and many blues, so we will get many shades of green.  Making color charts will help with decision making when you are painting.

On my own, I decided to try to figure out what my paint tubes looked like, which ones were transparent and which ones were opaque.  I made another series of charts (below).

In these my first column contained my artist grade paints. The second column contained my student grade paints and the last column contained some craft paints I also had from other projects.  It was interesting to see the differences in the different grades of paint. The black line down was to help me determine which paints were opaque (full coverage) and which ones were transparent.

These are tedious exercises, but worthwhile and you will have your own color charts with your paints to refer to for every painting.  If you are really serious, you can note down your mix ratios too (as can be seen in books about color theory).

Happy painting!

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