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Sunday, 18 January 2015

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Using colours in watercolour medium

The selection of colour in a painting is dictated by the method of working. Colour can be realistic, adhering to nature as closely as possible, or it can be subjective, with the artist using colour he feels is right at that time. Between these two extremes exists a wide range of possibilities depending on the purpose and make-up of the artist. Several aspects of colour have special interest to watercolourists its use mixing combinations and applications to specific situations.

A painting with a limited number of colours

As you are aware, watercolour is a transparent medium. It dries lighter and should therefore be applied a bit more boldly than other paints adding this 'extra' bit of intensity is called 'charging', the colour. Often it is done by brushing almost pure colour into a wet colour area of the painting giving it a chromatic boost. Wet a few squares and flow light washes into them and then charge with intense colour. Mingle the colours but don't overwork them. Overlay washes often result in fascinating colour changes.

A colour can be grayed, if it is too intense by putting a complimentary colour over or by mixing the two in the palette. Don't use black to tone down intensity. Never use black in their palette preferring to make a darker colour by mixing. Black often has a opaque look and tends to seem foreign to the rest of the colours. Most inexpensive colours are rather uninteresting in themselves and need to be mixed to get satisfying results.

This knowledge only could be acquired from practice and experimentation with your set of colours. Muddy colours result from overwork (too many washes), from scrubbing (using the brush too much) or from using the more opaque colours. Such areas can be helped or saved by line out the area with a sponge, stiff brush. This lets the dull area breathe again and brings it to life. Sometimes an opaque line or pattern, laid over the area can spark it to life.

However, there is no magic selection of colours. Most artists including myself, work better with a limited number of colours. The secret is to cut the number of colours down to the bone and then learn to mix them instinctively, allowing the main part of your concentration to be devoted to solving the problem.

Of course, if you use a different range of colours to be mixed allowing more room to move your paint around with complete freedom, while leading plenty of space for other mixes. The first thing, before you even start to mix paint, is learn to compare the various colours with each other. With constant practice in colour mixing you will learn to use the creative use of colour and will show you how to control colour relationships to create better paintings.

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