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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

COLOR

Proven Color Tips for Artists


MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

Welcome "Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment"said Claude Monet. No doubt joy was his dominant feeling as Monet pursued his painting. We can all share this sentiment and know that we are following the great artists of the past. Each time you start mixing paint on your palette you can remind yourself of the artists who faced the same challenge. How to make color tell the story on the canvas. This short book is not about theory of color. Instead it is the bits that are often left out of color theory lessons. What makes color live on your canvas. The special touch. I hope you can find something new here that you can apply to your own painting. Remember that nature has millions of color variations. We do not have to match those. We can however convey the idea, mood and delight in our paintings simply by using a small number of colors wisely. That is the obsession, joy and torment Monet spoke about. Happy painting! MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

How to Add More Color to Your Paintings by Malcolm Dewey

Recently I received a "solve my painting problem request" from Cleleste . She describes her problem as follows: "I would like to use more colour. Most of my paintings are dull and somber- so unlike who I am. I can't manage to break away from that." Celeste kindly sent a few samples of her work. She also gave me permission to publish her photos. I am grateful to her, because this is a problem experienced by many other artists. Perhaps this post will help them too. I am sure you will agree the artist's portrait drawing skills are very good. Also the monochrome color in the portraits has a moody appeal. However Celeste wants more vibrant color. The same goes for her landscapes.

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

Celeste's Painting Examples

Color is a Beautiful Mystery A mystery that keeps an artist enthralled for a lifetime. How to capture the mood of a scene or the character in a portrait using a few pigments? Nature has almost infinite variety at her disposal. It is an unfair contest. But we try even so. First off I must confess that color theory used to bore me as a beginner. Haul out the color wheel and my eyes would glaze over. I wanted to paint not learn about splitcomplementary color schemes. So it is with some trepidation that I do want to bring out the color wheel now. While our minds are still fresh. We cannot avoid it. But there are only four things I want you to know on the color wheel: 1. Know the primary colors; 2. Know the secondary colors; 3. Know the complementary colors; 4. Note the difference between cool colors and warm colors (color temperature) These four items will be important in your painting career. MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

warm

cool

Note warm and cool division

Tube Colors The paint stand at the art supplies store is a charming seductress. I have had my run-ins with her and it has cost me in the wallet. Not to mention the palette! Please start your color journey with a few colors. This will teach you critical lessons about color. It will also save you money. Essential colors are Cadmium red light, cadmium yellow lemon, ultramarine blue and titanium white. Learn how to mix: The secondary colors (violet, orange and green) Earth colors. Burnt sienna and yellow ochre (red, yellow and ultramarine in various proportions) Add the secondary colors to the primary colors and see what happens. Add a touch of white to see whether the mix is warmer or cooler. We call these grays. Mixing color and varying the tint with white produces many variations. Consider the paint swatches at the hardware store. Practice these basics until you feel confident that you can mix the colors.

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

Why Does My Painting Have Lacklustre Color? There are many factors, but the most common are: 1. See the light: Light is fundamental to color. Light can accentuate color. Add drama. Light can also wash out color. Use light to your advantage by being conscious of the light. 2. Not mixing color Correctly. Often too many tube colors are used on the palette. This leads to colors looking unrealistic on the canvas. In turn this leads to frustration and overmixing. Too much white paint or tertiary colors and generally muddying up the color. 3. Not Understanding Color Temperature: Look at the color wheel again, 4. Not Seeing Color Relationships accurately or at all, 5. Using too much solvent: this loosens up the pigment and reduces color intensity. 6. Not Using transparent paint against opaque paint 7. Muddy mixes - such as burnt umber getting the light warm hues. Let us look at each in turn: Mixing: We have dealt with this one already. Use the limited number of colors. The colors will be more intense, clean and true to life. Color Temperature. This will do wonders for your painting when you see these temperature variations. I will sum up this complex topic like this. Color works best when you see relationships between colors. In this case is a color warmer or cooler than the color next to it? Ask yourself this question every time you look at the color. If cooler add a cool color like blue. MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

If warmer add a warm color like red or yellow. Remember cooler does not mean making the color darker. Some darks are warm like burnt umber. Color Relationships: To take this idea further you must see color like an artist. That is cooler or warmer / lighter or darker than the color next to it. Ask yourself “Warmer-Cooler-Lighter-Darker?� Whatever the answer adjust accordingly. Then there are relationships based on the hue itself. Such as a primary alongside its complimentary. A yellow sun will look more intense against a violet sky for instance. Solvent. A clean brush is good. But you should try to avoid washing the brush too often during your painting. Far better to wipe the brush off with a tissue or rag. Solvents make the brush wet and they break down the intensity of the color. They also thin the paint texture. You lose some of oil paints natural buttery quality. Transparent and Opaque Paint. Paint the early stages of the painting without white paint. Or very little of it. Avoid white paint in the shadow areas and other dark areas. Rather keep these areas transparent by mixing only pure colors and adjusting temperature. For example blue and burnt sienna make a strong dark. The sunny patches can have white paint added for opaque, thicker paint. This adds beautiful contrasts. Memory: Only goes so far. The mind oversimplifies color. We miss so much true color from nature and end up with dull color. What we think is accurate color is guesswork at best. Look at nature or at a real person instead of a photo to see color accurately.

Warm and cool color relationships MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

A few more notes. 1. Color has temperature (warm and cool) and value (light and dark) 2. Color intensity is called saturation. It is most saturated in the tube. 3. Mix Grays for true color variety: This is not mud. Grays make all the difference in nature. To get these tones mix primaries with complementary shades. Add white and see the warm or cool shades that result. These varieties can be everywhere in nature. Experiment to get your mixes accurate. A final tip: See the real color by isolating the color note. To do this punch a hole in a card with a pencil. Hold up the card at arm’s length. Look through the hole with one eye. You will see a small part of the color isolated from those around it. That is the actual color you need to mix.

Isolate the color through the hole - then mix it

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

What about portraits? Treat them in similar fashion. Paint from models where possible and keep the color strong. Brushwork bold. Shapes distinct. There are many other factors such as brushwork, values and color schemes. It comes down to learning and practice. Also be willing to take risks. Be bold. Painting rewards artists who try new things. Have a look at my new course How to Add Light to Your Landscape Painting. Painting light involves using color and values better. This course will show you how to see these essential qualities. Have fun and put more color into it!

How to Add Light to Your Landscape: The Course

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

Solve the Mystery of Color Temperature One area of the painting process that shakes the confidence of most beginners is how to mix color. For this reason many artists opt to buy every tube color they think may come in handy. Unfortunately this becomes an expensive and frustrating exercise. Especially since fancy tube colors are seldom used or required. In this painting tutorial I am going to shed light on one important color mixing topic. One that will help painting beginners unlock new potential when mixing paint colors. Plus watch the step by step painting demonstration video above.

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

What is Color Temperature? This is a misleading term since the paint does not hold any relevant thermal temperature. I'm sure we all get that. The next common idea is that some colors are warm and others cool. For instance red and yellows will always be warm. Blues and purples will always be cool. These ideas come from long standing human experience. Sun is yellow and burns and so on. It is Not About the Rules When learning how to paint following rules can be a problem for beginner artists. For example have you noticed landscape scenes where the late afternoon sun is shining on distant hills? The foreground and middle ground may appear cool. But warm light bathes the distant hills. If you follow the rules then there is a problem. The foreground should be warm not cool. The distant hills should be cooler so you reach for the blue paint. Can you see how this is going to lead to confusion and poor color choices? MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

The so called rules should never override what is actually there. I still remember another artist's criticism of my color choice in a landscape. I used warm colors for sunlit hills and cool colors for a shaded foreground. She told me this was wrong. Never mind that my eyes saw different. It is About Relationships Instead of relying on preconceived ideas about warm and cool color commit this idea to memory. Color temperature is all about how warm or cool a color appears compared to other colors. The relative relationship between colours determines whether we call them warm or cool. This means that artists must observe the color in the moment. Ask whether that color is warmer or cooler than the color next to it. In the above landscape example the distant hills will be warmer in color than the shaded foreground. A self evident fact. So use warmer color in the distant hills. Avoid Mixing Recipes For this reason I do no like the painting technique of premixing colors before I start painting. As the painting develops I have to keep comparing color temperature and values. Then mix color as required. Premixing tends to lock one into a certain direction. Rather observe and mix as you go. There is an exception. When painting outdoors a sudden weather change can alter the scene dramatically. In this case you have two options. Continue to work on memory and your color path already chosen. Or pack up and try again later under the original weather conditions. A lot depends on the stage you have reached, but the latter option is often best.

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

One Helpful Rule You Can Count On Warm daylight conditions will produce cool shadows. Cool light conditions will produce warm shadows. If your scene is under sunny light then the direct light will appear to be in the yellow spectrum. So shadows will need more blue to cool them down. Be careful about using a dark brown to create a shadow. Darker does not mean cooler and your shadows may look odd as they are too warm. In overcast light shadows will appear warmer since the direct light is cool. Establish the Nature of the Light To use this rule you must first decide whether the light is warm or cool. This can be tricky under hazy conditions. You may have to observe the shadows to decide if they appear cooler or warmer to ares in direct light. Artificial lighting also poses similar questions. Tungsten bulbs produce a warm light. Fluorescent will be cooler. Establish the light source temperature and the rest falls into place. Mixing Color Now that you have asked the question about a shape's color relative to the adjacent colors you need to mix it. If you are using the primary colors and white you will be able to mix almost any color desired. Local color is the intrinsic color of a shape. For example the grass is green. This is a starting point. Then you need to decide whether that green shape is warmer or cooler than the shape next to it. If sunny conditions prevail then the grass under direct light will be warmer than grass in the shade. Add more yellow to the warm green and more blue to the cool green. Paint Mixing Tip There is no getting away from it. You need to practice color mixing. If you use the primary colors and white you will have far more control. Spend time mixing one into the other. First without white added then with white. See the differences. Also notice the transparency change when you add white. MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

Why Bother with Color Temperature? First off if you want to get the color right then temperature is relevant. Second when you get the temperature right the harmony of the colours look much better. The painting has something more compelling to it. You will notice the difference. Third is the scope you will have to paint different subjects. This is a big deal. You will be able to understand what you are seeing and interpret this with paint on canvas. A big step for an artist and not to be taken for granted. Ready to start comparing color temperature? Learn more about color temperature and color mixing in my course: Learn to Paint With Impact. Plus claim your course discount.

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

How to Mix Neutral Colors Fearlessly Most artists are confident mixing basic secondary colors like green, orange and purple. But the problem is that colours in nature are not so easy to mix. These neutral colours are not as extreme as paint straight out of a tube. If you have found yourself staring at your palette and the canvas in confusion you are not alone. But it does not have to be intimidating. By following a logical process you can become a fearless colour mixer. In this article I am going to show you exactly how to do this. Ready?

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

Neutral, Grey and Other Colour Mysteries Hold on there! Let me explain a few important colour mixing terms. First off there are three qualities to colour. Hue - which is the name of a colour such as Green, Red and Blue. Value - which is the relative lightness or darkness of a colour. Saturation - The intensity of a colour. Then there are these important terms to remember: Relationships - You must assess each colour in relationship to another colour. For example a colour is lighter or darker when compared to the colour next to it. Temperature - This is a big one. You must try to see each colour's warmth or coolness to the colour next to it. Only by doing this can you adjust the colour mix accurately. Check out these resources to master colour temperature. Neutral or Grey Colour - This is the term for a desaturated colour. It does not mean white mixed with black. Of course the colour is not actually grey, most of the time, but what name do you give it? Golden Goddess and Gigi Come to Play No these are not my dodgy friends, but rather names given by a paint manufacturer to neutral colours. Pop down to your hardware store and pick up a few paint swatches. Look at the colour and the names given to them. Funny right? So can you mix some Gigi on your palette? Not very easy. But can you mix a dark, cool shade of blue colour? No problem. Here is how to start mixing neutrals fearlessly. This is a big deal. From this point forward. For the rest of your painting career, mixing colours will be a logical process.

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

The Swatch Method This method is a fun exercise that you can practice in the comfort and privacy of you studio. Much better than colour theory from a book. Step one involves a visit to your hardware store. Pick up selection of paint swatches. Any from reds, yellows, greens, blues and browns. Do not buy a new barbecue or cordless drill. Focus. Step two is to cut off a selection of the swatches and stick them onto gesso primed paper or painting panel. Not a lot. One or two swatches is enough for today. See details in my video below. Step three is to squeeze out some colours onto your palette. Ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow lemon and titanium white are the basics. You can add cerulean blue and cadmium red light if you want. Ues a palette knife for mixing. Make this a long blade with a rounded tip. Not a tiny palette knife. This is not micro surgery. Have plenty of tissue paper ready to wipe your palette knife clean. Do this often to keep you mixes clean.

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

Question Time 1. Name It: Okay now pick one swatch and ask yourself what is the hue of that swatch? Does it look green, yellow, red or something like that? What basic colour name does it lean towards? Country Revery, for example, is a type of green. I am not telling you what Gigi looks like. So now you have the hue. Green. Now you can mix green with ultramarine and cadmium yellow lemon. 2. Now what is the value? At a glance you will know if it is fairly dark or light. To make your mix darker add more green. To make it lighter add white. Take some and smear it next to you swatch and ask: lighter or darker? Adjust where necessary. 3. Now what about saturation and temperature? With neutral colours the first mix of yellow and blue make a highly saturated green. Intense. You need to knock this intense green back a bit. Do this with a little red. Alizarin a a cool red and cadmium red light is a warm red. These options might suggest a direction already towards warm or cool green. But take it easy with the reds you add as they can take your green mix towards brown. If this happens just add more green or yellow and get the green back. This is the important thing to remember. You can always get back on track by adding colour. No need to panic. If you have gone too far one way then add the other colour and bring the mix back again.

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

Temperature Adjusting When mixing neutrals the fine tuning involves adjusting temperature. This is where the most anxiety and stress happens. I have seen students freak out over this. Sometimes even tears. But no more, because all you need to remember is this. Want it warmer? add more warm colour. Want it cooler? add more cool colour. Too intense? add the complement and white. For example the complement of green is red. For yellows it is violet or purple. For blues it is orange. For reds it is green. And so on. White Paint is Tricky White has many functions. It adjusts value to a lighter shade. But it also cools a colour down by desaturating it. So you may have to warm the mix up by adding back a little pigment. Too much white and your mix can go cold and chalky. White therefore plays a role in vlaue adjustment AND desaturating colour mixes. Top Tip: Not sure about neutral colours? Remember that these desaturated colours actually make your painting more colourful. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it is true. By using neutral shades you can emphasise the colour next to the neutral. For example yellow sunlight next to neutral gray / violet clouds. See more about how to add more colour to your paintings using this method. Follow the Process to Reach the Destination By following this three stage process and asking the questions: lighter or darker? Warmer or cooler? You will reach the colour you want. Always compare to the swatch as you go and ask the questions. When your mix is as near as dammit you are home. Congratulations! Want to play again?

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MALCOLM DEWEY FINE ART

PROVEN COLOR TIPS FOR ARTISTS

Thank You & Your Free Gift I want to thank you for downloading this booklet. I hope that it has given you a few useful tips. Please feel free to share it with your friends too. I have a Free painting course for you to try out. Visit the course here and start right away. If you are interested in Personal Painting Instruction I have an online mentor program. It runs for six months and you get direct instruction from me. Find out more about the mentor program here. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Just look for Malcolm Dewey Fine Art Enjoy your painting!

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Color! Proven Color Tips for Artists  

My proven color painting tips that help you focus on what is important. What to see as an artist and how to get to the color you need. Too...

Color! Proven Color Tips for Artists  

My proven color painting tips that help you focus on what is important. What to see as an artist and how to get to the color you need. Too...

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