Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Primary and secondary colors
There are three primary colors, red, yellow, and blue. They are irreducible, that is, you can't mix them from some other color. If you want to work in full color you will need to have these three.
There are many painters today who have nothing but those three. Usually they use cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson or a permanent red. I myself used a three color palette for several years about twenty years ago. I however used cobalt blue, genuine rose madder and cadmium yellow light. Those are real clear colors and it gave me a look I thought was cool at the time. It also limited the number of colors I could make and gave the paintings a sort of blonde look. Today when I recommend that palette to people I suggest they use permanent alizarin instead of the unbelievably expensive genuine rose madder. If you have never used a three color palette I strongly recommend you try it for a while. You will learn a lot about mixing. There are several other surprise benefits to it. You will get tremendous color unity, as every note usually will contain a little bit of all three colors and that will really sew the piece together coloristically. Also it is really simple to find the same color that you mixed before. With only three elements it is hard to forget what was in it.
I should mention that the color system I am describing applies to pigments only. There are separate rules for the way light mixes. As painters that is not a big concern. But it is important to know that is a different system so you don't get confused if you bump into that.
Secondary colors are a mixture of any two primaries. That is red plus yellow makes orange, a secondary. Red plus blue makes purple, and blue plus yellow makes green.
MIXTURES OF TWO PRIMARIES FORM THE SECONDARY COLORS, ORANGE, PURPLE AND GREEN.
Now pay attention, this is a little convoluted.
THE MIXTURE OF TWO PRIMARY COLORS MAKES A SECONDARY COLOR. THAT SECONDARY IS THE COMPLIMENT OF THE THIRD PRIMARY THAT YOU DIDN'T INCLUDE IN THE MIXTURE!
I know that's confusing, so here is an example. Suppose I mix yellow and red together and make orange. Orange is the compliment (or opposite) of blue. Blue is the one primary out of the three that I didn't use initially to make orange. Got it?
Since this is like chemistry, I am going to throw it out in small pieces for you to digest. I think I will work some kind do review into the posts too. I don't want to lose you. Just like the math I flunked every year from second grade on, this is cumulative. That is, one assumption leads onto another and each lesson will of necessity build on the last.
I have only one space left for the Bass Harbor workshop. Here is a link to where you can sign up.
I am moving my blog to Wordpress. The new URL address where I soon will be posting new entries is: stapletonkearns-blog.com. You can check it out right now but I am still in the process of moving. There will be a redirect of the URL stapletonkearns.blogspot.com that you are using now and all the links and feeds should still work without your changing anything. I also will leave this blog up just in case.