2018 Workshop Schedule. New workshops added! click here for details.
Visit my Patreon Page for more painting instruction

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cooking with Color.....Color Recipes to Try

'My Happy Place'             12x15             pastel         ©Karen Margulis
painting available for purchase $165
Choosing a color palette for a painting is one of my favorite parts in the painting process. Most of the time I choose my colors based upon the colors I see in my subject. I take into consideration the effects of the light but lean toward using realistic colors. I take my chances that these colors will be harmonious and result in a pleasing painting.

Wouldn't it be a great if we had recipes for color palettes?  

We do and they are known as Color Schemes. These are tried and true arrangements of color based upon how they relate to one another on a color wheel. The most common color schemes are monochromatic, complementary, analogous , triadic and square (tetrads). These are pretty straight forward.  It gets more interesting when we expand and combine these basic schemes. How about split complementary or cross complementary tetrad?  They sound complicated but with the help of a color wheel and making color notes it is easy to use these schemes to help choose a color palette.

There are many good books on color theory and color that address color schemes and how to use them but here are a couple of my favorite resources:
Book: 'Confident Color An Artist's Guide to Harmony,Contrast and Unity' by Nita Leland

my reference photo 
Using new color schemes can help us expand our knowledge of color leading to more intuitive color choices. It can also help us from falling into a color rut....using the same color palette for every painting. I love to challenge myself occasionally by choosing a color scheme and applying it to my subject. For the best learning experience I choose a color schemes/colors that force me to choose colors I DON'T really see. I rely on the values and not the local colors. The color scheme gives me the recipe and the colors provide the fun!

Tip: When trying a new color scheme use a color wheel and choose your dominant color first. Use a test trip to make color notes so you can keep track of the colors in your scheme. I will also often do a quick color study to work out possible arrangements of colors.

test sheet with color studies
Painting Notes:  I used a TERTIARY TRIAD for today's painting. I chose Red Violet, Yellow Orange and Blue Green.  My paper was a yellow orange piece of Pastelmat.


Sue Marrazzo said...


Donna Weathers said...

Gorgeous, Karen!

Anonymous said...

I admire your talent, Karen! Every Painting is just stunning! I love your blog - it's so inspired and helpful. Can't wait the new post :)

All the best to you,
Greetings from Poland, Tarnow.


robertsloan2art said...

Lots of fun! I love the effects of this triad, it's vibrant and gorgeous. That's the fun of using a color scheme, it'll work as long as the values are accurate.

Of course that's also the fun of a large pastels collection, being able to find the right values in every hue. It doesn't take 1200 sticks to do that but it's my favorite approach - can actually be done in under 50.

jojo said...

UN BON CHOIX DANS LE TRIADE DES COULEURS (toujours avec plaisir d'admirer!)