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Sunday, 22 March 2015

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Learn To Draw

Tone and colour

Most watercolour painters get confused between the 'colour' and 'tone.' Tone is the lightness or darkness of an area irrespective of its colour.

A normal landscape is composed of scores of tones ranging from white to black. Try to simplify these into just a few. Squint your eyes until you can only just see through them. You will then eliminate nearly all the detail and colour leaving you free to distinguish better the various tonal ranges.

Break down what you see into four tones, you have more or less solved the problem. These tones extend from what in watercolour is the unpainted paper, to the darkest pigment. The middle tone is local colour, while highlights and shadows are at the two extremes.

'Evening shadows'. This painting shows the correct use of colours on an evening.

However, in watercolour, unlike oils, you have to decide, where your whites are to be before you start your picture and either paint round them or mask them out. Start by painting the light tones first and work through the middle tones to the darkest.

I find I am continually squinting my eye to check on the tones of my painting, and if the adjacent tones then tend to run together, I know that I have to increase my contrasts. If these are not present enough in nature itself, they have to be deliberately exaggerated.

But why bother with this business of tones? One reason is to create a sense of unity and contrast in painting. Before you actually begin your finished painting you should do a small tonal sketch in pencil in which you can test and organise your placement of lights, middle tones and darks. Do not bother in the sketch so much with the objects themselves but more on the tonal relationships.

Once this is done to your satisfaction and propped up in front of you, it will do wonders for your confidence. It will mean that you will work directly from light to dark with less repainting and patching. Your finished painting will then not only hang together better but it will be fresher and more in control.

Depending on the chromatic temperature colours can be classified into ranges. A range is a group of colours that share certain characteristics and form a harmony.

If you put together two similar colours that contain some of the aforementioned colour, we can be said to be building a chromatic range of harmony. To categorise a colour range is comprising colours that are classified according to coolness, warmth or neutrality.

The first are cool colours, the second warm, while the last are called broken colours. The cool range of colours encompasses everything that begins as a mix of yellow and cyan, from which an entire range of yellows, greens and blues can be obtained. You can also add magenta to this mix in combinations that turn blues into violets. Observe the painting I have done with bright colours. It's called complementary colours.

They create an enormous visual impact. Examples of complementary colours are yellow, deep blue magenta, green, cyan and red.

These colours are used in all colour ranges to achieve the desired effects of the painter. The 'evening shadows' shown here is a typical example of using the correct colours to share a common harmonious factor.

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