Let’s take a look at the color wheel in watercolor painting

let's take a look at the color wheel in watercolor painting

Hey guys, welcome to a new lesson about color wheels. So in this class, we’re going to talk about the traditional color wheel, the new one, and also just generally about colors and light. So from the beginning, I would like to tell you that, there are different ways to make colors. So for example, color of light or the color that you see on the screen or the colors of the rainbow and the color of actual material, like pigment paint have different ways and different rules of mixing. So same rules do not apply to different type of color that you want to mix. So when we talk about mixing light, like for example, the rainbow, rainbow colors, we are talking about the realm of additive color.

So this is physics and the primary colors here are red, green, and blue RGB. I’m sure that all of you know, that at least heard this before, and because people see colors in light waves for us, the color will be based on this RGB, red, green, blue colors will looks more harmonious. These colors, we see them on computer screens and cameras, but when we talk about chemistry, we enter the subtractive color realm.

Here the primary colors will be different. There’ll be cyan, which is usually famous or noticeable as blue. It’s the closest color for us as blue, magenta, which is the closest color that you can recognize is red and yellow. So these ones, if somebody has experienced working with printing, materials or technologies, you probably know this combination, this is used in printing, but in the class, we will talk only about the mixing color wheel, which is used for art, for mixing actual pigments and some media. So we will talk about mixing color wheel.

There are many color wheel that you can find online if you start Google it and, one of the first color wheel, was invented by Newton. He actually discovered the visible spectrum of light, and the first seven colors of the rainbow that all of you know, was discovered by Newton. And he was the first one who started talking about primary colors, and he proved that mixing all the seven colors together, you will get white, but of course this will not work in actual art. Like if you take all these colors and mix them together on paper, you will get just dirty, muddy, stain, nothing more so after him, they were other people who were creating and adjusting and adopting this, theory of mixing colors. And one of the last one was Eaton who extended this wheel and he actually included secondary and tertiary colors. He also introduced the idea of warm color and cold color. So now we’re coming close to our actual todays topics, the traditional color wheel, when we speak about art, the three primary colors in visual art are red, yellow, and blue. But when we were talking about big pigments it would be cadmium red, cadmium yellow and ultramarine blue.

These three colors are the primary ones. And that means that they, according to Eaton, it means that they cannot be created by mixing other colors together. But, if you mix each of these color with each other, you will get secondary color. And then the secondary color, if you miss the secondary color with one of the primaries, you will get the tetrary color and so on and so forth. So now we are going to do exactly the same and we’re going to create the 12 color wheel by Eaton. I’m sure that many of you are familiar with this wheel. I have like a short, quick preparation already so we saved some time painting, all the artists, they learn the color wheel by Eaton at art school and even in the, you know, actual school, you have this in art class, so I’m sure you’ve heard about this. Let’s start creating our very own color wheel okay. So I will start with the yellow and I’m taking my cadmium yellow.

Then the next primary color is cadmium red in the palette. So I’m trying to have really thick paint over here not really transparent so we can work with it later and the ultra Marine blue, not any other blue. Great. So now we’ve got our first primary colors over here and we can actually Mark them as primary. I put them in a like black outline. So visually it’s noticeable, but you can also Mark them or you pretty much can do any painting you want. So it makes more easy and comfortable for you to remember the wheel. And now let’s create a secondary color. So we take the same cadmium yellow and make sure that your brush is really clean when you wash out the paint. You don’t want to have the leftovers of the previous paint and I’m taking the cadmium red and mixing it together. So you have to also make sure that you have the same amount of paint of each paint. So when you mix it it’s even, so you can have a nice orange color in the end. Okay. So next secondary color will be the mix of cadmium red and ultramarine.

Oops, I’ve got too much of blue over here, as you can see. So, we’ll balance it out and, and had a bit more of red. So you really need to make sure it’s even, okay. Now we have some violet or purple and the final secondary color will be the mix of blue and yellow, and we’re getting some green color here. So now we created our, secondary colors. You can also Mark them just to make it easier to remember secondary and, final colors that we’re going to create our third line of color. So we will have to create exactly the same mix of the secondary. That’s a little bit challenging because you do it by hand and it’s not the easiest. If you would do it on a computer, like you can find online, but we will try. So you take orange. I mean, you create orange by taking a yellow and red and you mix it. And I want to try to reach exactly the same color as over here. You can also actually pick up the leftovers from this one, but I wanted to stay bright and colorful. So I don’t want to dilute it by picking up the color. Okay. I think it’s kind of same. And now to create the tetrary color, we need to add more of a yellow. So we’re adding more yellow.

And now we are doing the same thing on the side. Um, create an orange, but here we are going to add more of a red. So it’s leaning towards the red primary, something like this. Okay. Now moving to the next couple and let’s recreate the purple over here. So we need some red.

Well, this one already got some blue and again, we want to recreate the same color as this one. Okay. So it looks like similar. And in this case, we need to add more of the red because it’s leaning towards red and here we will add more of the blue. Oh, that’s too much. Let’s pick it up.

So make sure you rinse your brush. So you don’t have accident like this. You have less water, but more control over your brush. So again, pick up some blue and, and add it in here to get some more bluish purple. Okay. Got it. And the last couple will be also based on blue, but with yellow. So recreating the same green, make sure to wash out your brush.

So here I already add a lot of yellow. That’s actually our goal to add more yellow to this mix. And in this mix, we will add more of the blue. So now we have our traditional color wheel by Eaton and here. Yeah. Let’s Mark the final ones. Great. So here to be able to work with this color wheel, we also need to talk about warm and cold colors. So traditionally, the left side of the wheel, will be the cold colors and the right side of the wheel the warm, meaning that these colors are representing energy, brightness, action, maybe some fire or sun and everything that’s associated with heat and warmth. And this side, these colors, they represent cold, calm, peace, serenity, winter, snow, everything that’s associated with cold. So it’s pretty simple, and also there were some specific relationships between colors. So every color that’s in front of each other, like of the primary, you take one primary, for example, blue, and you draw a straight line to orange. So you create one, couple of the opposite colors, then yellow and violet, another couple and green, and red.

So these three couples are, opposite to each other. They called complimentary, what we need to know this and how to use it for our artistic benefit. I’m going to talk about this in another separate article, which is about mixing colors and the rules of mixing colors and also the harmony of color. I don’t want to to distract you right now, but just keep in mind that these three couples are complimentary. I would like to say that this color wheel is really useful for painting. When you need to know how to mix your paints, how to make a scenery or the artwork you do more, calm or dynamic or just, you know, harmonious, for the eye. There is a thing that talking about, for example, cold and warm colors. If I take a piece of paper and for example, close this side, can you actually say what colors of these are warm and which one are hot, or even if you do like this, um, can you say which one is cold?

And which one is hot? Because when you actually look at these colors, you think that this the purple one, it might be actually warm, or for example, this yellow, this green, it has more of a yellow in it. So it’s kind of warm as well. So when you, don’t have anything to compare with or something to compare with, you have more understanding of what is cold and what is warm. So I come to conclusion, then this separation of warm and cold colors in this specific color wheel is not really accurate. And also, um, traditionally, or how it was initially thought by Eaton, if you take the complimentary colors and you mix them, you supposed to have black or Brown color or gray, but actually right now, if you mix those complimentary colors together, you just get muddy Brown color and that’s it.

You would never achieve black as it’s supposed to be, you know, back then. So that’s another thing that kinda puts the whole wheel under the question. And also in the times of Eaton, the pigments that were used or the colors that were used to create the color wheel were opaque. So when you mix them, you have completely different results than if you mix a transparent traditional watercolor. So having oldest questions and, you know, trying to answer them with the new, version of the color wheel appeared that we’re going to discuss over here.

Here I’ve prepared a sketch for our new color wheel. And, I also changed some border. So make sure you have clean water to work on the second color wheel. So speaking of the traditional one,, you probably notice that when you mix the primary colors, you don’t get clean color in the end, like if you pick up the purple from the actual watercolor sets, it’s not going to be the same. It’s not going to be, this one is not as situated as this one. It’s not so vibrant. And so there’s a question how do you mix the color the right way? How do you actually get that vibrant purple or that vibrant green? Like if you look at this one, this green is leaning towards yellow more than actually is green. So how do you know if color is predisposed towards one or the other side of the color wheel? So that’s why this six wheel or the six color wheel appeared on a horizontal. And, we are going to paint it right now together. So this color wheel is based on having each primary colors in two versions, in a cold version and the warm version. So all the wheel is based on warmth and actually cold colors. So let’s pick in your pallette, each of the primary color in warm variation and cold variation. So in my case, yellow, the warm yellow will be the cold, the cadmium yellow.

So I will apply it here. And the cold yellow will be lemon. Lemon is kind of biased with green. So that’s why it has this, um, tone in it. And it feels cold. So you definitely can see the difference when you paint them together. Try not to mix them like I just did. All right. So now I have our first couple of yellow primaries. Now in my pallette, cadmium yellow is the warm one. I’m going to paint it over here. And the cold red color will be Carmen. So you really need to explore, your painting set. So you know, which color is cold and which color is warm. So it’s usually, it’s your personal observation. When you look at this color, it feels like, it has more, it’s kind of a lenient over a blue color over here, so it’s kind of more purple.

But of course the dominant here is red. That’s why it’s still red. It just feels like a cold red. But also to know for sure you should go to the official website of your, watercolor set. So you can actually, study each paint because one paint, can consist of a few pigments, like one or two or even three. So what you want to do is to make sure that, you know, how many pigments or which big ???? One is in one of the each pan or tube you have? Actually the better paint is the one that has only one pigment. Even though if it consists of a few pigments, it kind of looks nice and painting, but think of this, if you’re painting your artwork, which has few layers.

So you will apply one layer and then when it’s dry a second layer, and when it’s dry the layer, it’s already very complicated layer in work. And imagine if each layer that you applied, is not just one color is for example, three colors. So imagine three colors in one layer, three colors in another layer in three colors on the third layer. So you have nine different colors mixed altogether. So what you have in the end is dirt. that’s why you want to have your, paint clean. And that’s why most of the time it should consist only from one or two pigments at all. So you go to the website and you started that. I mean, if you’re interested, but it also can just figure it out by practicing and doing some exercises that you can find in my previous classes when you do the glazing. So you learn each pains and how each paint each color collaborates with each other. and it’s literally just from your personal, you know observation. Okay. So the third color is blue and my warm blue is ultra Marine. So I’m going to paint it over here. And the the cold blue color in my set is Azure is water.

But you don’t really need to know the names, especially considering that each brand has different recipe of preparing the paint. So it can have the same name, but different pigments inside. So you don’t really need to know that by heart. I mean, if you use the same brand all the time, yes, it’s, it’s kind of useful to know the names because you, you know, you work with the same brand for years, so you know which big money you need to buy. If you go to the shop and you’re missing some colors, but in the beginning, I don’t think it’s really necessary. Okay. So we finished our cold and warm, color. Let’s Mark them. So you’re not confused. So this one will be stands for cold and this one will be warm. Well, if you want, you can also write down that is, red, blue, and yellow, but I mean, it’s literally just for you, it’s your notes. So whatever feels more, readable and understandable for you personally, just market every time when you’re confused, you don’t know which color to use. You pick up this big note and you just, you know, find your answers here. So now why we, why we did that, we want to mix the colors. So let’s take the neighboring colors and mix them together. So the worm, a yellow and warm red.

Okay. I think I got too much of red. Let’s balance it out with the yellow, and we’ve got really nice juicy orange, then we take cold red, my Carmen and mix it with the next next to it. The neighboring color is the warm blue, and we have really nice purple, purple violet.

And the last mix will be my Colt blue and my cold yellow. Oh, this is really nice vivid green color over here. So now you can see that when we mix colors that are neighboring, they’re close to each other. We have really, really nice juicy mix. So we have really bright green, orange and purple. When if you look at this wheel there, the colors are really kind of missing the, the brightness. so it’s really different from the color if you pick it up from the poet right away. Alright. So now that we practiced painting our color wheels, I hope you did that with me, or you will do it after this class. I want you to wait until it gets dry and move to the next lesson where I will explain how to actually use those two wheels. Both of them are useful. It doesn’t mean that the traditional one can, you know, can be forgotten or something. Uh, we both, we will use both of them. And in the next lesson, I will explain why do we need to know how to mix these colors, how we use them in art and how we create different effects and create different moods and painting, knowing the rules of mixing the colors. Thank you, and see you in the next article.


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Yana Shvets