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Old 11-10-2013, 01:40 PM
Lisa beth Lisa beth is offline
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Suggesting depth with colour

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
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Old 11-10-2013, 05:49 PM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

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.

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Old 11-11-2013, 08:15 AM
oddman99 oddman99 is offline
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

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
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:51 AM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

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.
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Old 11-11-2013, 09:00 AM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

P.S. Dave's suggestion to practise with a very limited 3-color palette is a very good one.
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Old 11-11-2013, 06:50 PM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

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, www.huevaluechroma.com, Will Kemp's color mixing course at http://willkempartschool.com/how-to-...-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.
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Old 11-13-2013, 09:55 AM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa beth
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.

Last edited by sidbledsoe : 11-13-2013 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 11-14-2013, 12:57 AM
davidbriggs davidbriggs is offline
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

Quote:
Originally Posted by sidbledsoe
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!
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Old 11-14-2013, 10:37 AM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

Thanks Dr. Briggs. I was referring to the historical threads 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.

Last edited by sidbledsoe : 11-14-2013 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 11-14-2013, 04:05 PM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

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.

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Old 11-14-2013, 06:07 PM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

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.
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Last edited by WFMartin : 11-14-2013 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 11-15-2013, 11:14 AM
Lisa beth Lisa beth is offline
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

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.
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Old 11-16-2013, 01:02 AM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa beth
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.
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Old 11-16-2013, 10:18 AM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbriggs
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!
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Old 11-17-2013, 04:30 AM
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Re: Suggesting depth with colour

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbriggs
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!
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