I have three sets of watercolours, but I found myself quite lacking in knowing them and the possible colours they could make in combinations. I think it is very important to know the tools before going ahead to use them. I knew colour wheel and basic colour theory but that really didn’t help me get a sense of what colours to use while painting. And even while painting I found myself confused to get the colour I wanted or blank because I had no clue how a specific colour is made.
So I decided to explore all the watercolours I have. I googled for watercolour mixing charts and found some very pretty ones. I liked the idea posted in this website of creating a chart with both dark shades and light shades. I also found another cool website, exploring more involved colour mixing charts by Jane Blundell.
1. I listed down all colours I had and grouped them into eight groups. I did not use Group VIII.
2. I prepared a grid of 32×32 squares on 9 slightly larger than A4 size papers. Listed down colours length and breadthwise.
3. Then each block in the chart was coloured in by mixing the colours on its row and column, like how a matrix is formed. The colours on the diagonals are the colours which are not mixed with other colours.
Complete colour chart can be seen here.
While making each section in this chart, I realised and could feel the instrinsic energy that colours possess and their power of affecting us, emotionally, psychologically. The yellow section had a lighter mood to it whereas the green brown section had a calmness attached to it. I was retrieving and reminiscing my exposure to those colours in the outside world and it was quite a journey to go through so many of them.
I now have a better sense of colours that can be produced by my palette and if I have to create a new colour, I can look up to the closest one in my chart and can get closer to a way of making it.
A surprising thing I noticed was two “greens”(for e.g.) giving very different results on mixing with the same other colour. That is, even colours grouped similarly are very different and we can have no intuition on what they will create when mixed simply based on their ‘label’. I think how a colour is actually made from raw materials plays a very important role rather than its apparent colour.
Put another way, the word that gets associated with a colour doesn’t say much about it. A colour saying orange can produce much different shades on mixing than another colour also having ‘orange’ in its name(Check out the colours of Pale Orange in the chart, marked PO). Or two blues(such as Cerulean Blue-CeB and Ultramarine Blue-UB) which are most of the time placed side by side in a colour box give quite different results when mixed with the same other colour!!
And also hue of a colour also plays an important role such as in Leaf Green which stands out as almost being in yellow group in the chart.
I also stumbled upon the entire violet-purple spectrum. In this range I could never have guessed the nuances that I now see and I was almost sort of colourblind to all these beautiful shades.
- I made slight mistakes in making the chart, like interchanging of blocks and alignment problems and forgot light yellow which I included after oranges.
- I did not control mixing of two colours, I wanted to keep it at 50% of both but I was not very specific and I am sure it dwindled quite a lot. So each block is actually only a representation of all the possible colour shades between the two original colours. Jane Blundell does amazing work of noting down the intermediate shades in her colour charts.
- For studying colour and light I found the book ‘Color and Light’ by James Gurney very useful and also ‘How to Render – The Fundamentals of Light, Shadow and Reflectivity’ by Scott Robertson.
- Books I have not read but will(pdf of both can be found online):