Color Wheel

Color Theory: The color wheel is a basic tool for combining colors. This wheel is 12 colors and 9 shaded squares ranging from white to black. This circle dates back to Sir Isaac Newton book Opticks.

I am certain every class starts with the wheel. I have three of them in my basement. Its good practice and I find refreshing myself with the formulas to mix paint is more important than laying the paint on the canvas.

Clockwise, the colors are:

Yellow – Cadmium Yellow
Yellow Green – equal parts, Cadmium Yellow + Green
Green – equal parts, Yellow Green + Blue Green
Blue Green – equal parts, Green + Cerulean Blue
Blue – Cerulean Blue
Violet – “Violet mix”, Alizarin Crimson + Ultramarine Blue + a pinch of White
Red Violet – equal parts, Violet mix + Red mix.
Red – “Red Mix”, Alizarin Crimson + Light Cadmium Red
Red Orange – equal parts, Red Mix + Orange
Orange – equal parts, Yellow Orange + Red Orange
Yellow Orange – equal parts, Orange + Cadmium Yellow

Start with Red, then Violet, and Blue. Each is a mix from tubes. Then mix the Red Violet and Blue Violet. The top half the circle is difficult as because three colors mixes are in use for each swatch and to get those three mixes, you need to mix one more.

As always, take breaks when painting. Any pure color or mix of colors from a tube is a good stopping point.

Black from the tube is exactly black. It almost never matches the needs of the painting. A mix is better. It is tempting to use tube black for the grayscale but believe it or not it will look wrong. Use the mix below:

Black – Burnt Umber + Ultramarine Blue (deep or French).

For the shades of grey, I like to start with white and then leave it for a few days. Mix the black and continue across the scale. Again, the goal is to have 50% of the color you have, plus 50% of the color after the color you need. Annoying, but stick with it.

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