Color Wheel 1How do I come to know a color?

I think it’s very similar to how I come to know myself and other people.  It’s through relationships.

My palette is a full range palette for painting.  I’ve added colors along the way some at the suggestion of others, some on my own out of interest.  Most of the ones that remain I use but there are a few that I am still “getting to know”.

What I realize is that if I don’t interact with them I really won’t know their capabilities or experience their potential.  Color is important to me in my painting and there’s a lot I don’t know about it.  One of the ways I work toward knowing more about individual colors is to take time creating color wheels or random experimental mixtures to see what happens.  This can be a fun process and at the same time teaches me about the paints and colors I choose to work with.

Violet is one of the colors that sits on the end of my palette. It is one of the most intense pigments I have but what I started to notice was that I wasn’t using it much.  I was mixing my purples or violets with nice results, but not exploring how the violet I had might be helpful.  My hesitation with it was it’s intensity. A small dot of this pigment goes a long way.  What I remembered reading somewhere was that it’s often difficult to know the properties of any given color, especially the darker hues unless you do mix them with something else. So I’ve begun doing that more with some of the more intense colors on my palette to get a better handle on their range.  Usually I start by adding varying degrees of white to see the results.  In the case of violet, out of the tube it’s pretty dark and difficult to discern what kind of violet it is.  Once the white is added it’s like magic!   A rich, vibrant and beautiful shade emerges.  I can understand and interpret it more clearly.  It’s  intensity isn’t such a hurdle for me and I actually like the idea that a little goes a really long way.  I’m finding that violet to be a real asset on my palette.  I still have a lot to learn about it and I’m having fun doing that.

Of course every color on my palette has significance and value as a stand alone.  I could make an entire painting using colors straight from the tube without any alteration to their original nature.  But there is something valuable in the process of experimenting and mixing.

The wheel shown here is one I created using the colors on my palette going from light to dark and then adding increasing amounts of Titanium White.   Creating it did take time but I learned a lot in the process.  Now I can look at this and it helps me clarify how colors work in relationship to each other and their neighbors on the spectrum.  This has been a helpful tool in color selection with in a painting. I also just enjoy looking at it from time to time.  I highly recommend taking time to experiment and learn about color mixing and relationships.  I feel it helps me have more choice and freedom as a painter.

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