Color can be a tricky topic to teach. I hope todays discussion wasn't over ambitious in scope. My intention was to introduce you to a framework for approaching color mixing. It is how I personally approach color and something I wish I had been taught when I was in school.
First we need to cover some vocabulary. There are three properties of color: HUE, VALUE and SATURATION.
1. HUE refers to the 12 colors on the color wheel. I find it much easier to only think of those 12 color names when approaching color mixing. No "sea-foam-green" or "plum" - 12 colors.
Primary colors: red, yellow and blue. These are the colors that, in theory, combine to make all other colors and which can not be created by mixtures of other colors.
Secondary colors: orange, green and violet. These are created, in theory, by mixing equal parts of two adjacent primary colors.
Tertiary colors: red-orange, red-violet, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-violet, blue-green. These are created, in theory, by mixing equal parts of an adjacent primary and secondary pair. The naming convention for tertiary colors is to combine the names of the parent primary and secondary color. The name of the primary color comes first.
2. VALUE refers to how light or dark a color is. If you took a black and white photograph of any color you see it would correspond to a specific shade of grey, black or white. Every color has a specific value - lightness or darkness.
3. SATURATION (also referred to as "intensity") refers to how pure a color is. The colors on the color wheel are the purest of pure. They are completely saturated. The opposite of completely saturated colors are completely un-saturated colors - these are called "neutrals" and are black, white and all shades of grey. The close a color is to black, white, or grey - the less saturated (or more neutral) the color is.
When we go to mix a color that we see we need to first identify these three properties. First identify the hue. Which color on the color wheel does belong to or relate to? Next decide how light or dark it is - a rough assessment. Finally how saturated or unsaturated is it?
Knowing the hue will tell you what color to start your mixture with. From there you just need to adjust value and saturation which often get adjusted at the same time.
After I demonstrated this process a few times I had you tare out three color swatches from a magazine and practice mixing the color with paint.
The second exercise I introduced was to take the landscape photograph that will be the reference for our next painting and make to color studies from it. First is a grid of six squares and the next a grid of 24 squares. I asked you to imagine that the landscape photograph had these grids drawn on it. I asked you to look at each square of the image and choose one color that best represented the whole square. For the six square color study obviously each square covers more of the image than the squares in the second color study. One color per square.
You can download a copy of grid template HERE.