color theory

Establishing the Artist's Color Palette

color wheel with forsythia blooms It is the vibrancy and richness of color that inspired me to start painting with oils.  I love how some passages of paint just seem to shimmer before my eyes, enhancing  my experience of the objects in the painting.

When I first started painting with oils, I was overwhelmed by the multitude of color choices and how I would often end up with a “muddy” or discordant color scheme, but when I began to focus on mastering the practical applications of color theory and how this influenced the paints I choose to use, my work began to have the harmony and saturated colors I was striving for.

It was during this time that I began to learn about the actual properties of the different paint pigments, armed with this additional information, I began to develop some color exercises as a means to better understand and learn the ins and outs of color mixing and how to develop my own color palette of paints.  As I grew in understanding of how different paint colors would mix together, exploration and mixing color became a pleasure.  I want to share this same sense of discovery and understanding with others, and this is why I developed a series of online classes dedicated to focus only on paint handling and color exploration.

The first class starts next week, and we are going to dive into how to apply the practical aspects of color theory to building an artist’s color palette that works for you.

The goal of the first class is to give you a solid understanding of how to adapt the concepts of color theory that focus on “ideal and perfect color” with the realities of the color pigments oil painters have to work with when establishing the color palette they work with.

As a class, we will explore different color palettes used by artists, from a limited palette to a bursting with choices colorist palette.  Lessons and exercises are designed to help you gain the knowledge and experience to apply color and paint mixtures with ease, enabling your creativity the freedom of expression.

If you work full-time or are just unable to enroll in a painting class that requires attendance, this class is for you.  You study at your own schedule, check in to the private class blog when it is convenient for you, and receive positive and helpful critiques of your paintings.

Register for Color Theory & Building an Artist’s Color Palette

$150 for 4-week online class

 

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Following this class on color theory and building your color palette, four more classes are scheduled to dive into more specific areas of color and paint handling.  With each 4-week class designed to really focus on a specific lessons and techniques.  The other classes are:

Color Luminosity with Neutrals, Darks, and Lights

Versatility of Warm and Cool Color Transitions

Utilizing Color as a Part of Composition

Designing Composition with Color, Value, Pattern, and Rhythm

Favorite Paint Mixtures: Dioxazine Purple

Dioxazine-purple-paint-mixtures-and-tubes.jpg
paint tubes and paint swatches

paint tubes and paint swatches

For this post about favorite paint mixtures, I want to spotlight a great supporting member of my paint palette.  Dioxazine Purple is just such a paint color.

As a leading role I think it is too extreme and staining, but where you desire transparency and nuance, this is just the paint to rely on.  I think dio. purple mixtures lend the most effective results when mixed strait into other strait pigments, creating visually interesting and deep colors that support a painting in the dark passages.

dioxazine-purple-mixtures-dried-leaves

dioxazine-purple-mixtures-dried-leaves

If I were to paint this scene, I think I would play up the complementary color palette of yellow and purple, and cool down the shadows to purples and blues, while warming up the yellows and oranges.  This scene shows a lot of the color transition zones that occur when a color is naturally shifting to its complement.  See how some of the glowing orange leaves seem to have blueish shadow shapes where the veins of the leaves are...

dioxazine-purple-mixtures-river-farm-landscape

dioxazine-purple-mixtures-river-farm-landscape

When painting a scene like this, I like to place a lot of purple and deep-red under layers where all the greens would eventually go, especially in the background trees.  I think this helps establish a sense of space in a two dimensional painting.  For the cast shadows, I see some of the shadows that could shift blueish-purple, making the sunlit areas seem even more warm and bright.

Heirloom Apples

Heirloom Apples

Heirloom Apples - 8" x 8"

This is an excellent example where I relied on a mixture of dio purple and transparent orange to create the nuanced effect of a three dimensional tree branch. And because both colors are transparent, the mixture visually rolls back into space, maximizing the nature of the pigment in color and value and also in thickness of texture as transparent colors are also not so bulky.

Though I use dio purple most in the dark areas straight, there are times when mixing it with white and other colors produces some beautiful, soft pastels that are so helpful when painting flowers…

dioxazine-purple-mixtures-tulip-magnolias

dioxazine-purple-mixtures-tulip-magnolias

All the pinks, sliding to purple are great places to use dio. purple. For the stem mixtures I would probably knock down the browns a little more towards the grays on the lighter areas of the branches, but these would still be good jumping off points...

Dio-purple-with-swatches

Dio-purple-with-swatches

I love dioxazine purple for its deep value and transparent qualities.

Dio purple is a transparent, cool, and brilliant purple, that is a strong staining pigment that can go a little crazy at times, but mixes well with transparent and opaques.  The practice it takes to get used to working with this color is worth it.

I encourage you to go out and see how many places you can use this color, start with a small amount on your brush because this color goes along way.  Play around mixing puddles of paint and then applying it to your compositions, you may find some deep darks that really enliven your work.

Here are closeup images of each mixture:

Dio-purple-with-viridian

Dio-purple-with-viridian

Dio-purple-with-cobalt-turquoise

Dio-purple-with-cobalt-turquoise

Dio-purple-with-indian-yellow

Dio-purple-with-indian-yellow

Dio-purple-with-alizarin-crimson

Dio-purple-with-alizarin-crimson

Dio-purple-with-perylene-red

Dio-purple-with-perylene-red

Dio-purple-with-transparent-orange

Dio-purple-with-transparent-orange

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Want to learn more about painting with oils?  I have a teaching newsletter with actionable mini-lessons in each issue.  

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RELATED BLOG POSTS:

Favorite Paint Mixtures: Alizarin Crimson

Favorite Paint Mixtures: Permanent Green

Favorite Paint Mixtures: Permanent Rose

Favorite Paint Mixtures: Permanent Alizarin Crimson

Aliz-Crimson-Favorite-Color-Mixtures

Aliz-Crimson-Favorite-Color-Mixtures

{Paint tubes and mixtures of Permanent Alizarin Crimson with six other colors}

Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite paint mixtures with Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and in this post I will also share how very flexible this color is, by being able to mix well into dark neutrals, middle value saturated or desaturated colors, or bright highlights, all depending on the amount of white you use.

A few months ago, I came up with the idea of creating a series of blog posts that cover some of my favorite paint mixtures, for days like today, when I do not have a new painting to share, because I still want share my love of art and how it is integrated into how I see the world.

Here are three scenes that all can have mixtures of alizarin crimson incorporated into them, if I were to paint them.

Aliz-Crimson-mixtures-bittersweet-berries

Aliz-Crimson-mixtures-bittersweet-berries

For the background grays, I would probably neutralize the grays a bit more, however one of my favorite blacks in oil paint is a pure mixture of straight aliz. crimson and phthalo green, and if I want to push it more green, I add a bit more green, and vice versa if the "black" needs to have more red in it...

Aliz-Crimson-mixtures-stock-and-mums

Aliz-Crimson-mixtures-stock-and-mums

When I brought home this flower arrangement, I was totally struck by how beautiful the purple stock were. I remember imagining mixing variants of cobalt green and cobalt turquoise lt with aliz crimson and permanent rose to create the perfect purples and violets I was seeing. I find that some of the most beautiful purples are not derived from purple paint at all, but are mixed.... do you ever look at a scene and begin to mix color in your mind? I do all the time...

Aliz-Crimson-mixtures-winter-sunrise

Aliz-Crimson-mixtures-winter-sunrise

One of the amazing side affects of mixing aliz crimson with a warm yellow, like cad. yellow lt,  is that immediately the saturation of the two colors gets knocked down some, where when mixing aliz crimson with cad red the color becomes more full, enhancing the colors without losing any need for more saturation.

Aliz-Crimson-mixture-swatches

Aliz-Crimson-mixture-swatches

I love alizarin crimson for how versatile this pigment is.

Alizarin crimson is a transparent, cool, brilliant red, that has a strong staining characteristic, so it mixes well with other transparent pigments and also with opaques. In fact I really love some of the colors that result from mixing it with opaques like Cad. Yellow or Cad. Red, because you get a really rich, full bodied color that has strong covering attributes while also incorporating some of the subtleties that arise from working with a transparent color.

I use Permanent Alizarin Crimson made by Blue Ridge Oil Colors because I love how long this paint stays open compared to Winsor & Newton's version that will develop a skin within one day. Also it is always a good idea to pay the extra money for the "permanent" version of this paint because the regular alizarin crimson is a fugitive color and will oxidize towards a brown red eventually.

Here are closeup images of each mixture:

Aliz-Crimson-with-Cobalt-Green

Aliz-Crimson-with-Cobalt-Green

Aliz-Crimson-with-Cobalt-Blue

Aliz-Crimson-with-Cobalt-Blue

Aliz-Crimson-with-Phthalo-Green

Aliz-Crimson-with-Phthalo-Green

Aliz-Crimson-with-Cad-Yellow-lt

Aliz-Crimson-with-Cad-Yellow-lt

Aliz-Crimson-with-Cad-Orange

Aliz-Crimson-with-Cad-Orange

Aliz Crimson - Cad Red Med

Aliz Crimson - Cad Red Med

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Want to learn more about painting with oils?  I have a teaching newsletter with actionable mini-lessons in each issue.  

Sign up here to receive more oil painting lessons.

RELATED BLOG POSTS:

Favorite Paint Mixtures: Dioxazine Purple

Favorite Paint Mixtures: Permanent Green

Favorite Paint Mixtures: Permanent Rose