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Lisa beth
11-10-2013, 02:40 PM
Hi, my great difficulty is how to mix colours in oil painting.
I have a few books on oil painting and have read many threads about values, hues, temperature and I don’t know what else. The result is that I usually use too much paint to get the colour I want and it is very difficult to me to suggest depth with colours.

Does anybody know of any really easy to understand books with exercises, or easy to follow online courses to help me learn how to mix colours?

Any help will be much appreciated..

Lisa

Journeyman
11-10-2013, 06:49 PM
One of the best things you can do to learn about colour Lisa is to set up simple still lives with one item. Light the single subject with one light. You can start off painting with just two colours for example Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue plus Titanium white, with those two colours alone you will be able to mix a variety of tones and colours, eg blues, reds, pinks and greens to paint your subject. When you are familiar with that palette of two colours you can move on to three adding a yellow. Get used to mixing your colours with one Red, one Yellow and one Blue. It’s not to important which specific colours you use as long as you get used to how they react together. For example Prussian Blue is very strong and will over power the Burnt Sienna unless you are aware of this. By using limited palettes and painting from life you will learn two things, how to look for colour in your subject and how to mix colours to interpret the subject.

:wave: Dave

oddman99
11-11-2013, 09:15 AM
If your problem is with the actual choosing and mixing of colour to get the result you want, I suggest you look at The Dimensions of Colour, a website belonging to Dr. David Briggs who often posts here. The link is http://www.huevaluechroma.com/index.php

Patrick1
11-11-2013, 09:51 AM
I don't have any books or online lessons to suggest, but IMO one very important ingredient to achieving depth and life-likeness is to be able to modulate (make subtle variations to) color - in its three attributes of hue, value, and chroma.

For example, making very subtle value variations in the most distant parts of a landscape, subtle hue variations of a fruit as it changes from highlight to shadow, or subtle changes in chroma on skin tones from light to shadow. Usually you'll be making variations in all 3 of the attributes - noticeable enough to make the visual effect that shows depth and realism, but not over-done to so much that it looks wrong or garish...learning to dial in the correct amount.

Patrick1
11-11-2013, 10:00 AM
P.S. Dave's suggestion to practise with a very limited 3-color palette is a very good one.

DMSS
11-11-2013, 07:50 PM
I'm a beginner, so I still have a lot to learn, but here's my 2 cents (well, 6 cents really), with the caveat that I work in acrylic:

1. Allow yourself to be patient, i.e., work and mix slowly. Eventually, mixing will get faster.

2. I have found doing color charts helpful: take 1 paint, and mix it with every other paint on your palette, as well as with black and white. So if you take a red, you mix a little yellow and paint that color, then next to it you mix in a little more yellow and paint that color, etc. This gives a good idea of what colors you can mix with what you have, and of how 2 specific paints behave in a mix. I find that doing this as an exercise, without the pressure of mixing a required color for a painting, is a low-pressure and relaxing way to learn. Kind of like a musician doing scales. You can include rows for mixing complements by mixing a complement and then mixing it with your color that is the subject of your color chart, if you don't have a tube that is a complement of the color you are using. And you can do the same by mixing your chosen color with greys of various values. It takes a little time, but it sure does yield a lot of information.

3. For me, reading a lot about color theory has been helpful, but also confusing at times. Even though some of what I've read is confusing, I have learned a lot from this forum, www.handprint.com (http://www.handprint.com), www.huevaluechroma.com (http://www.huevaluechroma.com), Will Kemp's color mixing course at http://willkempartschool.com/how-to-paint-an-acrylic-still-life-painting/would-you-believe-you-can-transform-your-colour-mixing-in-a-weekend/, and The Munsell Student Color Set book (2d Ed.). I think Will Kemp's course is a great place to start. Some of the people on this forum have a great deal of experience and a lot of knowledge that they are very generous about sharing here.

4. Learning takes a lot of paint. So, try not to stress over how much paint you waste.

5. Use artist-quality, single pigment paints.

6. I agree with using a limited palette on any given painting. It is amazing how much one can do with just 2 or 3 colors plus white and black.

Good luck and happy painting.

sidbledsoe
11-13-2013, 10:55 AM
it is very difficult to me to suggest depth with colours.
I find that in general terms, cool colors recede and warm colors advance.
I know that theorist may object, but I have been painting too long and utilized this in too many paintings for it to be dismissed.
Right now I am doing a portrait and I got some shadows too warm and they just don't fit, then upon cooling them off, voila, recession.
It is just a general rule of nature, light is warm, shadow is cool, light and shadow are what depict depth when viewing a painting in two dimensions. So suggesting depth with colors involves using temperature and value. In general, light/warm advances, dark/cool recedes.

davidbriggs
11-14-2013, 01:57 AM
I find that in general terms, cool colors recede and warm colors advance.
I know that theorist may object, but I have been painting too long and utilized this in too many paintings for it to be dismissed.


Theory and practice are in good agreement on this one. The impression of depth conveyed in two-dimensional color images in which reddish colours seem to come forward and bluish colours recede is called chromostereopsis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromostereopsis

Joy Turner Luke in the New Munsell Student Color Set gives the generally accepted explanation that the effect is caused by chromatic aberration: long-wavelength rays focus at a different point in the eye to short-wavelength rays. Bruce MacEvoy rejects this explanation on his Handprint site, but his arguments are unconvincing and I don't know of any other "theorist" who agrees with him.

There are some examples on Akiyoshi Kitaoka's optical illusion site that most people find quite clear, though it is interesting that some people do not see the effect, or see it the other way around.

http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/scolor-e.html

Thanks to oddman99 and DMSS for recommending huevaluechroma.com!

sidbledsoe
11-14-2013, 11:37 AM
Thanks Dr. Briggs. I was referring to the historical threads (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31563&highlight=advance)that have discussed this concept, here in this forum. The general consensus of opinion from the experts was, "Although this truism applies to atmospheric perspective in particular, overall it's a little simplistic and doesn't bear close scrutiny."
Whereas your information supports the belief that the concept is grounded in terms of actual human perception.

libby2
11-14-2013, 05:05 PM
This is what I do when I want to figure out which colors advance & which recede: I mix up some & smear them on a piece of paper, step back, squint & look to see which ones appear to be further away....may take a few squinting tries, but eventually I'll get it. I'm not very good at remembering words, for me they're abstract, I have to see and touch to understand.

In the lower left and along the bottom of the image are the test colors I was making for a purple I wanted to tube up for a generic distant hills. Something that had confounded me for quite a while, some days it was pthalo blu that did the trick, other days it was ultra/cobalt blu....never really sure, and I was tired of fussing with it. So I finally took the time to do the mix, lo and behold there it is. One less thing to angst over when I'm out. :D

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/14-Nov-2013/977256-Ultra--Cobalt-Blu-Dk.jpg

WFMartin
11-14-2013, 07:07 PM
Suggesting "depth" in a painting by using color can have many solutions, probably because there are various kinds of "depth"

First, there is the sort of "depth" created by atmospheric perspective--the diminishing of contrast, chroma, value, and the loss of the color, yellow, as objects recede into the distance. This is very effective when creating great depths, as when painting such things as landscapes, in which objects in the distance are miles from objects in the foreground.

Then, there is the sort of "depth" that is inherent in the painting of a tree, for example. The depth of a tree is much less than the sort of depth observed in a far-distant landscape, merely because the relative distances [within a tree] are much less than those represented in a landscape.

A tree has not only a left and a right side [often displayed by painting one side of the tree dark, and the other (facing the light source) very light, but it also has a front and a back.

In the case of a subject such as a tree, I paint the front branches and leaves in a lighter green, while I paint the leaves and branches on the far side of the tree a great deal darker than those on the front side.

So, generally, in the case of objects that are close to the viewer, and whose "depth" is represented by only a few feet or even inches, I have found that the relative value is much more important to creating the appearance of depth than that of color. Light passages seem to come toward the viewer, while dark passages recede. And, I merely use the color of the object, itself, in a lighter, or darker value, to create this effect.

This is almost exactly the opposite as that of creating atmospheric perspective, or distance, as when painting a landscape. And, I'm sure that many painters can offer examples of close-up objects that will refute my observation of those factors.:D

Lisa beth
11-15-2013, 12:14 PM
Thank you all.

I paint with a limited palette of both warm and cool, blue , red , yellow, (though I have some others that I seldom use).
I have read different books and articles on colour theory including The Dimensions of colour (thank you Oddman).

I think that I have some idea of the theory, the problem is putting it into practice. I usually put too much colour of one or the other, try to change it and finish by starting mixing all over again, so I would like the kind of book or course that tells you step by step what to mix and in what amounts to get a given result (probably too much to ask and the idea is “learn by trial and error”).

I am amazed by the works of painters such us Albert Bierstadt and wonder how could he get such brilliant lights and incredible depth in his landscapes. That is what I would like to achieve but HOW?

Many many thanks for all the great tips.

WFMartin
11-16-2013, 02:02 AM
Thank you all.

I paint with a limited palette of both warm and cool, blue , red , yellow, (though I have some others that I seldom use).
I have read different books and articles on colour theory including The Dimensions of colour (thank you Oddman).

I think that I have some idea of the theory, the problem is putting it into practice. I usually put too much colour of one or the other, try to change it and finish by starting mixing all over again, so I would like the kind of book or course that tells you step by step what to mix and in what amounts to get a given result (probably too much to ask and the idea is “learn by trial and error”).

I am amazed by the works of painters such us Albert Bierstadt and wonder how could he get such brilliant lights and incredible depth in his landscapes. That is what I would like to achieve but HOW?

Many many thanks for all the great tips.


Simple answer to that......Do that which I once did.....Copy one of his paintings. His palette is quite honestly so simple and limited that you should have very little trouble duplicating his effects.

Bierstadt is my favorite painter, and if your goal is to emulate his results, then buy a book of his work, and just copy a couple of his paintings.

Hint: It won't be "easy". A great deal of his effects are achieved by appropriate use of values, rather than color.

Gigalot
11-16-2013, 11:18 AM
There are some examples on Akiyoshi Kitaoka's optical illusion site that most people find quite clear, though it is interesting that some people do not see the effect, or see it the other way around.

http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/scolor-e.html


The second image blinds.gif is just fantastic, very stereoscopic effect!

0chre
11-17-2013, 05:30 AM
There are some examples on Akiyoshi Kitaoka's optical illusion site that most people find quite clear, though it is interesting that some people do not see the effect, or see it the other way around.

http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/scolor-e.html

Very interesting site, thanks!

Lisa beth
11-17-2013, 01:50 PM
There are some examples on Akiyoshi Kitaoka's optical illusion site that most people find quite clear, though it is interesting that some people do not see the effect, or see it the other way around.

http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/scolor-e.html



Thank you for "The Dimensions of Colour" it is excellent. I have bookmarked http://www.huevaluechroma.com/ (http://www.huevaluechroma.com/) and come back to it often as it helps me a lot to understand colour.
The comments on how some painters approach colour can be applied to me being one of those in search for colour mixing “recipes” ( it is probably the lazy painter approach :o ).

Thank you also for the links on Akiyoshi Kitaoka's optical illusion.


Simple answer to that......Do that which I once did.....Copy one of his paintings. His palette is quite honestly so simple and limited that you should have very little trouble duplicating his effects.

Martin, I am just trying to join the November 2013 Project ~ Albert Bierstadt paints the American West in Wet Canvas and hope to be able to post something. :crossfingers:

davidbriggs
11-17-2013, 08:04 PM
Very glad you like the site, Lisa beth. In my opinion the key is neither to look for recipes nor to "learn by trial and error", but instead to develop an analytical, problem-solving approach in relation to both your subject and your painting. Hopefully the more you do this, the more uses you will find for the information on my site. (There will still always be an element of trial and error, but on a completely different scale!).

WFMartin gave you some excellent advice in suggesting you copy a Bierstadt painting, and also in emphasizing the role of value. Value is the most important dimension of colour, and should be the first dimension that any learner focuses on. If you don't already use one, you should get a greyscale of around ten or so steps and learn to think in terms of it. (I use a Munsell grey scale with nine greys [1.0 to 9.0] between black paint [0.5] and white paint [9.5]). Use it constantly when copying your Bierstadt to get the values right. Also, practice painting from life using a set of greys premixed to those values, and when you move on to colour, still pay just as much attention to value as when you were painting in greyscale.

I briefly commented here on procedures for getting the hue and chroma right as well:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=19846645&postcount=67

Using a lot of paint isn't really a major problem, but do watch for differences in the tinting strength of your paints, and remember to always add the stronger mixer to the weaker. Also, always keep your palette knife and the mixing area of your palette surgically clean of stray paint.

Quite a few Bierstadt paintings in high resolution here:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Albert_Bierstadt

sidbledsoe
11-18-2013, 10:24 AM
Lisa,
I wanted to share with you this caveat regarding copying images from online sources. I first became aware of how awful online reference material can be when I compared some pieces I viewed in museums vs what was available online. The differences can be absolutely ridiculous. I have taken much better flip cell phone pictures of Van Gogh's than the examples on the famous Van Gogh Museum site!
Here is an example of a Bierstadt painting referenced in a previous link:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Nov-2013/112587-693px-Albert_Bierstadt_-_Buffalo_Head.jpg
Online sources can fairly well kill value relationships at times and Mr. Buffalo there may be a victim of such.
I would love to see this one in person to compare his rendering, I wouild guess that it is better in real life.
Here is a previous post (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3843197&postcount=10) from another thread that shows how much variation there can be in different online sources for an example of the very same painting by Van Gogh. I have seen it in person and neither one of them captures the actual colors, nor value relationships accurately.
I have done a copy before and then have had the opportunity to view the painting later in person, I was a bit dismayed at how far off I was, and I attribute it to the awful online reference.
This is just some information that I wish I was more aware of, earlier on, myself. Good luck!

sidbledsoe
11-18-2013, 11:59 AM
Here are other images online, at least you can see some of the eye and fur variation in this one.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Nov-2013/112587-KGrHqYOKpcFJlOkM,BSbMlS4tJg60_1.jpg
But with this one, the fur is gone to quite nearly one value, and you can barely see the poor creature's eye:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Nov-2013/112587-41kdtN1OGuL.jpg
Look at the different sky values.

WFMartin
11-18-2013, 02:34 PM
How very true, Sid.

Bierstadt's paintings are just jaw-dropping when you view them in real life. There is no comparison to one of his painitngs, and a reproduction of the same work when printed in a book.

I was fortunate to have seen dozens of his works--many of them his really large paintings in real life at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco, many years ago, when I first began painting in oils.

When I saw that exhibit, I was already familiar with most of his work, from having read many books regarding his art. To see the same images in person was incredible. One of his rather obscure pieces, called, "Moat Mountain" was extraordinarily interesting for me. I studied the detail and the colors in it as best I could merely because I figured it represented the sort of painting that I might be able to accomplish.

I always give Bierstadt credit for having "taught" me to paint underwater rocks, too. I got my nose right up to his paintings, and took careful notes, both written, and mental. I've been rather capable of painting underwater rocks since having seen his work.

No reproduction yet has even come close to representing his "Shore of the Turquoise Sea"--the painting in which the mast of the wrecked ship is being engulfed by the turquoise wave. It was astonishing, to say the least.

Lisa beth
12-01-2013, 10:20 AM
I should have answered before but it was a difficult week.

David, I have a value scale and, I agree, I will have to learn to use it if I want to paint well. When attending some of Johannes Vloothuis classes I learnt to think in terms of 5 values, however even only 5 need quite a lot of attention.

Sid, as Martin said, “how very true”:) .

Martin, I am also a great fun of Bierstadt though I must say that unfortunately he is not so well known, I mean outside artistic circles, as other painters of light and colour.
After reading your post I did a search on books on him and found many but did not know which to choose. Could you recommend a couple or three centered on his painting techniques rather than on history?.

Thank you all for your interest and advice.

WFMartin
12-01-2013, 02:16 PM
The book that I own that has the most Bierstadt paintings in it is a book of his work exclusively, titled, "Albert Bierstadt: Art and Enterprise". Other books with some of his art are basically "Art Of The Southwest", and "The Treasures Of The Old West". However, none of these books offer much, in-depth information regarding his painting techniques.

Lisa beth
12-01-2013, 03:25 PM
The book that I own that has the most Bierstadt paintings in it is a book of his work exclusively, titled, "Albert Bierstadt: Art and Enterprise". Other books with some of his art are basically "Art Of The Southwest", and "The Treasures Of The Old West". However, none of these books offer much, in-depth information regarding his painting techniques.

Thank you Martin.