Colour Theory with the Art Shed Team

Author: Art Shed  Date Posted:30 January 2023 

If you've always just gone for it with your colour mixing and never reeeeeeeally knew what you were doing, then this blog is for you! Get these basic colour mixing skills down pat and you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes to your art practice and how you compose your artworks moving forward. Don't worry we've all been there, but having this little bit of knowlegde up your sleeve will hopefully help you make leaps and bounds with your art!

Did you know the colour wheel was developed by Sir Isaac Newton?! He created the first circular diagram of colours in 1666!! 
A colour wheel starts off with three primary colours - red, yellow and blue. These three fundamental colours cannot be made from combining any other colours! So they are doing all the heavy lifting for all those beautiful colours you'll mix and use.


Next on the colour wheel you have the three secondary colours - green, purple and orange. These are made from mixing primary colours together. 
Red + Yellow = Orange
Yellow + Blue = Green
Blue + Red = Purple


Then you have your tertiary colours which are made from mixing a primary colour and a secondary colour together. For example mixing a primary colour like Yellow with a secondary colour like green will result in Yellow Green


Colour harmony is extremely important when creating an artwork - if you don’t have good colour harmony in your piece it with either seem chaotic or even too boring!

Some basic colour schemes to achieve harmony in your piece are analogous, complementary and triadic. Analogous colours sit next to each other on the colour wheel, so they are already best buddies, looking good all together! Complementary colours sit opposite each other on the colour wheel, so they offer a great contrast to each other which can create eye catching compositions in your work. Triadic colours sit in a triangular formation opposite each other on the colour wheel and can offer bright and dynamic compositions.


Once you have picked out the colours you'd like to work with, you can great varying degrees of value by simply adding white, black or grey. 
Hue = Colour
Shade = created by adding Black
Tint = created by adding White
Tone = created by adding Grey

There are two different types of white you can use to add different values to your colour. A Zinc White is specifially made to tint your colour without making your colours pastel. This creates more of a transparent effect when mixing. The same goes for black, a Mars Black will add more of a hint of shade to your colours without taking away from the integrity of the colour you are using. 


The best way to learn about all of the different types of colours is to get stuck in and practice, practice, practice. You never know, you might discover a new shade you've never seen before. Then it's time to bottle it and sell, sell, sell!!! 


Here are all the goodies we used to create this little colour theory lesson:


We hope you enjoyed this blog and learnt a lot from it, just as much as we enjoyed creating it (and learnt a lot from it!!)
Don't forget to always have fun, play and experiment with different techniques. As always, stay creative! And don't forget to tag us @artshedonline

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