Colour: Famous artists’ best kept secret

Selecting Colour Combinations:

Want to know the best and easy way to select colours for your paintings?

We have often heard it been said:

“Artists tend to use colours according to their mood they are in. And it also shows the personality of the artist!”

Small A5 watercolour: An abstract scene, using bright bold colours.

So what colour combinations do you paint with?

Cheerful colours or gloomy colours? Dull colours or gradated colours?

This blog is all about colour schemes and how to select the best colour combinations for your paintings. How to make them ‘zing’ and come alive.

First gather your paints together:

  1. Then sort and divide the colours into three basic formats: Light, bright, and muted colours
  2. And make a colour chart with three columns. See illustration example below:

First column:

Light fresh colours: Pure white, light yellows, lime green

Second column:

Bright intensity: Clean medium yellows, fresh oranges, reds, blues, purples, magenta.

Third column:

Muted and dusty colours: yellow ocher, raw umber, raw sienna, burnt sienna, burnt umber, Terra Vert green, chrome oxide green, indigo, Neutral Tint, black. This also includes olive, russet and teal (mixtures of the secondary colours*). And natural grays.

  • Orange and violet makes russet.
  • Orange and green makes olive.
  • Green and violet makes teal.
  • Natural grays are a mixture of opposing warm and cool colours.
Best to grade your colours

Colour chart: Colours are divided into three columns, according intensity and quality. This list is only a suggestion, it all depends on what paints you have in stock personally.

Then consider how to use colour combinations:

  1. If you paint all bright fresh clean colours in your painting’s composition, they all `shout’ at once! The brassy effect is very confusing and disconcerting!
  2. But if they are surrounded or accompanied with muted and natural grey colours, they `sing’ beautifully together.
  3. The light fresh colours are for highlights. And highlights glitter with natural grays surrounding them. Contrast of tones makes them sparkle too.

Placing colours to their best advantage:

Arrangement of the elements in your composition is very important too.

Basic shapes and the simplicity of the composition: Each shape or area has a basic underlying colour and tone. And each of these area-shapes sits side by side. Their relationships are either bold or intermingle with the neighbours. The overall combination is important. It should make a dramatic emotional impact on the soul of the prospective buyer.

Best use of colour:

Is, knowing the emotional and dramatic impact and effect of colours on people!

  • A contrast of warm and cool colours.
  • A dynamic contrast of tone at the main point of interest.
  • Reducing fickle unnecessary details and including atmospheric blurred areas to amplify the major shapes and points of interest.
  • Gradating colours in atmospheric areas and in fresh clean seawater.

Try doing this,

And let me know if it helped you simplify the way you choose your colours and put them together. I would like to know.

Have fun. I like messing around with colours, it’s so exciting.