The purpose of understanding color theory

The purpose of understanding color theory

A few weeks ago I shared a few color theory videos – part 1 was more of the technical details of warm vs cool greens, and part 2 showed one way to think about using them together in context with your art. Today – I wanted to back up a step, and answer the question, why bother learning color theory?

HEADS UP: Livestream on Thursday! At 9am Pacific (noon Eastern) I’ll be joined by Etchr on MY Youtube channel for a discussion of color mixing…and I’ll be swatching! Bring with you YOUR watercolors (you don’t need to have my colors!), a brush and some water, and a sheet of paper. Divide it ahead if you want into 2″ columns; I find it’s easier to do the swatching on a flat paper than chopping down all the pieces and having to tape everything down.

Check out the video then come back to read some extra thoughts below.

Video

Watch the video below or click here to see it on YouTube.

RSVP

Thursday I’ll be going live with Etchr on MY channel (don’t get confused!) – be sure to RSVP so you can get a notification reminder! You may need to turn on notifications on your device. (You’ll be able to see the replay later as well.)

The tiny tutorial

On my fine art instagram account a few weeks ago, I shared the following Tiny Tutorial – and have also uploaded it to the Color Theory section of the TIny Tutorials class on the Artventure App! (Download for iOs or android) – if you’ve got the app handy it might be handier to navigate to than asking yourself “Which of Sandy’s thousand+ blog posts was that on?” ha!

Utilizing color theory in practice

The drawing on this 18″ x 24″ block of watercolor paper was quite epic – I took a lot of elements from the 30 Days to More Confident Watercolor Sketching class and combined them! Containers, flowers and greens, rocks, fences (railing!), doors, windows, big cast shadows – so students will recognize many of them! I enjoyed the process more than in class where we create small postcards on postcard paper – as I watched colors merge here on this painting I was struck by how different the look is on real cotton paper! (Though this Fabriano isn’t as nice as my Arches or Saunders, but way better than the postcard paper!)

Once you’ve observed the object you want to recreate, and decided whether you want that color or a different one – only then do you consult all those swatch charts you might have made! Why would you want something other than what you see? Well sometimes you want a different mood to the piece you’re creating. For the painting in today’s video I wanted 1) all mixed colors (I often get lazy and just use colors straight out of the palette, and almost always regret that I didn’t intentionally make smarter decisions!) and 2) a muted overall palette with pops of brights. That meant a lot of mixing complements.

The mixing sometimes came in the palette itself; other times I assessed which color would change the temperature of the green wall by mixing colors for the detail work. That big pale green section in the sun needed to be lighter overall than the section under the roof, but also maintain the texture. It was way too warm so the mixture would need to be cooler to compensate, but not so cool that it changed the sunny feel. And that rock wall – it needed to fall back due to the shadow, as well as needing to make the foreground elements pop.

The finished painting is one I was surprised to be so happy with! This was, as I said, a test of style and size; I have a series I want to work on maybe this summer, and it will lend itself to a more tight, illustrated style than my usual loose watercolor paintings. This test helped me know that might work, without getting bogged down in all the months of pre-sketching I’ll need to engage in before starting those pieces. It was a lot easier to just draw random pots, flowers, windows and doors, so I could test techniques without the pressure of ending with works of the caliber I want to make later.

For sale

I decided to call this painting “Opening the Cabin,” since we’re in spring when lots of my friends are taking weekends to go clean out their cabins to prep for summer! The plants out on the porch are in need of some TLC after a winter of hanging out – but the tools needed are outside and ready to get to work!

Coming on social

On my instagram (main page and fine art page) and facebook this week, I’ll be sharing more on color theory – what the different principles are and why they matter. On Friday, once the livestream is done, I’ll do a roundup blog post and collect all the week’s resources into one place for you!

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. If you choose to shop using my EH (Ellen Hutson) links, please accept cookies on that site in order to retain the link to my blog, or that compensation does not happen for me. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

Warm and cool greens: part 1, watercolor and Copic

Warm and cool greens: part 1, watercolor and Copic

This week, a color study – what could be better than a study of greens? Temperature – warm and cool, in particular! This is a 2 part series – and today we’ll talk about two mediums. Most people think of color theory as only affecting fine art and painting, but it really applies to all application of color!

Video

Watch the video below or click here to see it on YouTube.

I got out my Lake Michigan Book Press “Sketch a day” sketchbook for today’s little testing of mixing. The tiny watercolors are so cute – I keep the Daniel Smith 6 essentials in this tiny Whiskey Painters palette for quick studies like today’s. It’s always so interesting to me to see just how many different colors can be gotten from six little pigments!

Swatch some of your own greens, just pair up your blues with yellows. Any kind. What happens when there’s a 50-50 ratio? 70-30? 85-15? Do they go from cool to warm or vice versa?

Any other medium uses the same principles – but the style of delivery of the pigment may mean different ways of blending. For this tree I chose a range of cool and warm greens – there’s a BG96 that was used for the tree trunk and parts of the vehicles.

Layering the colors on top of each other is how alcohol markers “mix” color – but the warm/cool principles are just the same.

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. If you choose to shop using my EH (Ellen Hutson) links, please accept cookies on that site in order to retain the link to my blog, or that compensation does not happen for me. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

Pantone Color of the Year: Palette Explorations / Colorways

Pantone Color of the Year: Palette Explorations / Colorways

It’s that time of the year: when Pantone releases their Color of the Year and Palette Explorations (colorways we can be inspired by!) I’ll be doing a series on the color, I’m not sure how long it’ll run but I have a lot to say. Ha!

The color for this year is Classic Blue…Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era

Supplies for this project are linked at the end of this post. Compensated affiliate links may be used at no cost to you.

VIDEO

View on YouTube.

TIPS FOR USING COLORWAYS

Colorways are groups of colors used on an art piece, or in decorating. Think about a living room with walls of one color, a sofa of another, and accent throw pillows in another. Play around with the percentage of a space or art piece that a color takes up, you can change up how that color combination looks in infinite ways!

  • You don’t need to use ALL colors in any suggested grouping. Often just focusing on 3 or 4 is more than enough; they usually provide many more than you need.
  • Choose a main color that will dominate your art. Then a secondary and an accent. You might have two accents, but that’s about all I’d recommend! It’s easy to go overboard.
  • Accent colors POP. They can often be complements to the main color – opposites on the color wheel.

CARDS

Watercolor Pencil, left, and watercolor, right. (Just love the FIRE on that one!)

Polychromos pencils on the left, Copic markers on the right. (Video for that is linked at the end of this post.)

PRINT CHARTS

Coloring full charts is not really recommended; these are for IDEAS of colors to try together, not for detailed color comparisons. But for those who insist (lol I know you’re out there), here’s a blank chart to fill in yourself. You can use my colors for reference below – or go invent your own colorways to try!

Each of my pages is below, or you can download a pdf to print them all.

Note that I’m not putting these in the shop since they’re a once-a-year thing; it’ll just be on the blog.

ANOTHER VIDEO!

Go see the other half of this video opening series on the Ellen Hutson Youtube Channel HERE. There’ll be a chart over on her blog for the chart lovers out there!

QUESTION

Which of the colorways do you want me to play with? What will YOU play with? Let me know in the comments!

SUPPLIES

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. If you choose to shop using my EH (Ellen Hutson) links, please accept cookies on that site in order to retain the link to my blog, or that compensation does not happen for me. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art