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Colour Mixing Guide


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Table of Contents

Introduction 4
Materials 6
Colours used in this book 8
Colour 10
Colour wheel 10
Primary colours 12
Secondary colours 14
Tertiary colours 15
Complementary colours 16
Warm and cool colors 18
Colour tone 20
Using a limited palette 22
Dull and bright colours 26
Local colour 27
Colour mixes 28
Yellows and oranges 28
Reds and pinks 32
Violets and blues 36
Greens 40
Browns 44
Blacks and greys 46
Glossary 48

About the Author

Julie Collins studied Fine Art at the University of Reading and has been an artist, writer and teacher since then. She has written colour mixing guides and artists' problem-solving books and also writes for The Artist magazine. She works from her studio in Hampshire, UK, where she explores her passion for painting, drawing and crafts. Julie has won numerous prestigious awards for her watercolour paintings, including, most recently, first prize in the 2019 Watercolour Award at the Royal West of England Academy Annual Exhibition. Julie was also elected an associate Member of the Society of Women Artists in August 2019. Julie is the author of the Colour Mixing Guides in Acrylics, Oils and Watercolour, published by Search Press.


November 2015
Far too many books overcomplicate the issue and include pages of nearly identical swatches that leave you confused. The introduction includes a still life that was painted using three colours, despite being full of tints and hues. The caption explains the mix for each section, with percentages. It's typical of the approach throughout. Julie uses only 13 colours, divided between reds, yellows, and blues. After a quick exercise painting a colour wheel, you'll move on to an explanation of primary, secondary and tertiary colours. A piece on complementaries is followed by an explanation of warm and cool and demonstration of how to create depth. This is basic stuff, but so excellently explained that even the expert might want to take a look.

* The Artist *

I particularly like Julie Collins' book because it takes you right back to the beginning with a very simple approach. It deals with watercolour paints but actually, it doesn't really matter about the medium when you are getting started.I took this book on holiday as it is small, light and doesn't take up too much room. I didn't use the paints and colours that were set out here but instead, took some Koh-i-noor Dye paints and the Koh-i-Noor Watercolour Wheel. I felt that I could find basic colours on which to start my education in these sets.
The colours used in the book are of a limited palette, taking the viewpoint that if you have red, blue and yellow, you can make an infinite number of colours. There are 4-5 of each colour and these are used to demonstrate different colour combinations. You cover primary, secondary, tertiary and complementary colours and then look at colour mixes of different combinations of colour. Using the book with the specific colours listed, you have around 400 variations. The swatches are immensely useful for a particular colour you like as you have a
vast visual library for finding and creating a similar colour with the materials you have. I felt that it gave me a great practical grounding for moving onto more adventures in colour and I think that it would be a good book for anyone to have if you are looking at dyeing fabric or paper and don't know where to start.

* Workshop on the Web *

Essential colour mixes at your fingertips for watercolour artists. Covers colour theory, achieving depth in painting, suggestions for a limited palette. Great colour charts, good for beginners.

* Karen Platt *

Mix exactly the right color first time without wasting paint with this handy book. The same size as the Twenty to Make series (i.e., pocket sized), this new range of paint mixing books is sure to be a hit with all budding artists.

All beginner watercolor artists would find this book useful I think. To start with it contains a useful guide to the materials you need to buy, and more importantly those you don't. At last, a book that realizes student quality paint is good enough beginners, the market at which the paint is aimed-hooray! Also, you can find out what paintbrushes and paper to get and why; this is not a book that advocates wasting money. There is a practical color wheel exercise to try, a guide to buying colors and also to mixing thirteen useful ones. Color theory is not as easy as it sounds, and often it ends up being just that --theory rather than practical application. I have always struggled with it myself, so appreciated the exercises and notes, such as why a certain color is used rather than another and what you need it for. All the usual aspects of color theory are here such as complimentary colors, warm and cool colors, primary/secondary/tertiary, achieving depth, etc. Each is laid out briefly with examples and then it is up to the student to complete the simple exercises and discover what it is all about. The final part of the book shows how to mix colors and what you get, a useful range of shades for pretty much any kind of painting and how to do it. There is a helpful one page glossary at the back, and all this in fewer than fifty pages is admirable, to say the least. I always think that any practical subject like art is more about doing than reading about doing and this book bears this out. Impressive.

* *

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