5 Colour Mixing Tips (I Wish I’d Learnt Earlier Than I Did)

Exploring Colour MixingA little colour-mixing exploration is dangerous as it entices you into a journey that never ends. Don’t let the vast possibilities and huge range of colours available deter you however, because while there’s so much to discover, it’s a journey with many, many joyful discoveries along the way.

Memorize the few fundamentals, embrace the challenge and get mixing. At worst you’ll produce a murky, muted muddy colour (but even then it’s not wasted paint because you can use it with white and black for a tonal study or simply use it to eliminate the white of a new canvas).

Colour Mixing Tip No 1: Add Dark to Light (not light to dark)
It takes less of a dark colour to change a light colour than it does of light colour to change a dark.

For example, to mix a light blue, if you take some white and then add a little blue to this until it’s the right tone, you’ll use less paint than than trying to lighten a blue by adding white to it. Or to mix a green, add a little blue (the dark) to a yellow (the lighter colour) rather than adding yellow into a pile of blue and then having to add more and more yellow to get a light green and ending up with a huge pile of mixed paint.

Colour Mixing Tip No 2: Add Opaque to Transparent
The same applies to mixing a transparent and an opaque colour. Add a little of the opaque colour to the transparent one, because the opaque colour has a far greater strength or influence than a transparent colour.

Colour Mixing Tip No 3: Check How Many Pigments (Colours)
For the brightest, most intense results, check how many pigments are in the two colours you are mixing. (The label should tell you, or the manufacturer’s colour chart on their website.) Ideally, you want to mix colours each containing one pigment only, so you’re mixing only two pigments; the more in the mix, the faster you get towards tertiary colours (greys/browns).

Colour Mixing Tip No 4: Beautiful Browns and Greys
To mix browns and greys that harmonize with the rest of your painting, mix complementary colours (red/green; yellow/purple; blue/orange) from the palette you’ve used, rather than colours you haven’t used in that particular painting. Vary the proportions of each colour to create a range of browns/greys.

Colour Mixing Tip No 5: Don’t Overmix
Forget mixing thoroughly and properly, but stop a little bit beforehand (but sufficiently so you don’t have large blobs of an unmixed colour). You get a far more interesting result when you put the mixed colour down on paper or canvas because it’ll vary slightly.
Colour Theory Mixture

Monday Motivator: Seeing Various Aspects

Art motivational quote

“If we think of an object, let us say a violin, it does not appear in the eye of our mind as we would see it with our bodily eyes. We can, and in fact do, think of its various aspects at the same time. Some of them stand out so clearly that we feel we can touch and handle them; others are somehow blurred. And yet this strange medley of images represents more if the ‘real’ violin than any single snapshot or meticulous painting could ever contain.”

— Picasso, quoted in Interpreting Cezanne by Paul Smith, page 73

And thus Cubism was born, parented by Braque and Picasso. Such as this violin painting.

I think painting a series, the same subject again and again, also explores this, albeit segmented onto different canvases not all on one.

Five Small Flower Paintings (Which is Your Favourite?)

When creating Dancing Skye Daisies I was also working on a few smaller paintings (15x20cm/6×8″), but these had only got about three-quarters finished. Today I had another round with them, and think they’re just about there but will decide tomorrow when there’s good light again. (Specifically: 1. whether there’s enough light, or whether it’s all too mid- tone and dark; 2. whether there wants to be more ‘foxglove pink’  as it seems  bit purple.)

In the meantime I’ve been trying to decide which is my favourite. At the moment it’s a tie between #1 and #3 (counting from the left).

Five Small Flower Paintings by Isle of Skye artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Five Small Flower Paintings. Each 15x20cm. Acrylic on canvas. If you’re trying to figure out the logistics of what’s in this photo, the flower paintings are hanging on large clips I put on the edge of a shelf; the others are dry early-works-in-progress lying flat on a lower shelf behind them.

Studio Cat Realities

Know all those photos of artists in their studios with serene studio cats sleeping on a chair or cushion that get shared around the web? Well, I’ve tried telling Studio Cat Ghost, but he prefers a more active, investigative role. and clambering over canvas.


Monday Motivator: A Poem About Negative Space

Art motivational quoteThis poem by Peter Sheppard is dedicated to all budding artists looking forward to the future in search of inspiration.

Negative Space
When is a space not space, I’ve posed this question many times before,
Is it above or below a line, like between a ceiling and a floor.
Or, is it empty, or is it full,
or does consist of nothing at all

What does it weigh and what colour is it,
Is it yellow or is it blue — or green,
Or a pastel hue or an earth shade or
The colour of a birds wing, taking on a beautiful sheen

It’s transparent or opaque. Is it still or does it quake,,
Does it move like an echo around a hill.
Does it take you along on a very long river,
Like an eddy, a ripple or rill.

Does it sway from side to side, does it slip or does it slide
What if its narrow and fast or a mile wide, or does it go up a hill.
When it hits a solid barrier going faster than a harrier,
Does it stop, or go straight through, like porcupine quill.

Does it weigh more than an ounce.
Does it weigh heavy or nothing at all
Is it something off which your ideas can bounce?,
Can it lie flat, or is it something to stand up against the wall.

It seems to me that it is anything of these,
And in the places in between,
Solidity has it all its own way, it knows what it is and where it’s been,
Not like me sitting here, but regally as a queen.

My mind is going bonkers as I sit here in this place,
Heading like an Astronaut, vertically, and about to go into space
I’m retired now and I’m 68, I’d better take my pills,
With my pencils, brushes, paper and paint, I’m off to get my thrills.

How My “Dancing Skye Daisies” Painting Got Its Name

How "Dancing Skye Daisies" Painting Got Its NameSomething unexpected happened this week that led to my latest flower painting getting its name. After I posted a comment on Facebook saying it still needed a title and suggestions were welcome, I had a message from a teacher at one of Skye’s primary schools asking if I would let the children in her class name it for me. As if that weren’t delightful enough, I then discovered they had studied me as a local artist earlier this year and were very inspired by my artwork. Wow.

The class came up with a long list of suggestions and after much discussion they combined the top two into their final name suggestion: Dancing Skye Daisies. This was because the painting was done on Skye and they thought it looked as though the daisies were dancing in the breeze.

It’s a thoughtful, apt title, and I love it.

Yesterday, by arrangement, I popped in to show the class the painting in real life and chatted a little about it (including how the grass also looks like seaweed and the sky like water). Consensus was that it was much bigger than they thought!

My thanks to all for the very special event that will be treasured, along with the story behind the name “Dancing Skye Daisies“.
Details from daisies and foxgloves commissioned painting

Dancing Skye Daisies, 120x60cm, acrylic on canvas

Painting Update: Daisies & Foxgloves

A month on and I feel I’ve resolved my Daisies & Foxgloves painting (see previous work-in-progress photo here). It’s had another layer of blue sky/rain, then another round with two yellows for grass/stems applied with a bristle-hair sword brush, a round with magenta and permanent rose on the foxgloves, and a round of fresh yellow centres and white petals to the daisies. I’m happy with it, and hopefully the person who commissioned it will be too. The colour in this photo isn’t quite right, taken in uneven light; the right-hand half is closest, the left is too saturated.

Update: This painting now has a title.

Details from daisies and foxgloves commissioned painting
Size: 120x60cm, acrylic on canvas

Details from daisies and foxgloves commissioned painting

Monday Motivator: Remembering

Art motivational quote

Sphagnum moss remembers. It recalls
the touchdown of each lark that tumbles
down upon its surface, the slightness of that weight
recorded in the tendrils of each stem.

— from Sphagnum Moss by Donald S Murray

Our fingers and hands remember. They recall
the touchdown of each brush
down upon the surface, the slight pull of that paint
recorded in the bristles.

Workshop Photos: Intro to Acrylics

I had such an enjoyable, rewarding workshop this week, an introduction to water-based mediums with a father and son. On Tuesday we explored water-soluble pencils, black ink and watercolour. Yesterday, after a warm up of two-minute continuous-line drawings of a couple of manikins, we did a little on colour theory using watercolour and the colour triangle approach rather than circle, then opened the tubes of acrylic.

Colours used: phthalo blue, phthalo turquoise, golden ochre, primary yellow, magenta, titanium white, perylene green, Prussian blue, ultramarine blue. Tools: flat brush, splatter coarse-hair brush, water spray, paper towel, bit of old credit card, fingers, gravity. Surface: 6×7″ canvas, one with a magenta ground on it, the other white. Results: Inspiring!

Workshop: Intro to Acrylics

Workshop: Intro to Acrylics

Workshop: Intro to Acrylics 3

Hitting that “I Can” Moment

There’s a special magic in that moment when someone who thinks they’re “not particularly creative” discovers that they do indeed have more of “it” in them than they had long thought. Believing creativity somehow skipped you isn’t something that happens overnight, it creeps in slowly, as expectations set by yourself and others aren’t met, yet another road towards the destination isn’t considered and so you give up on ever getting there.

We all have things we do better than most and things others do better than us, but the enjoyment in the doing of something is ours alone. The end result is something separate and should not as readily be the aspect judged when it comes to deciding whether it’s worth doing, or not. The enjoyment is reason aplenty.

From the sketchbook of a workshop participant: exploring ink, line and wet-on-wet, control vs serendipity.
The fun in the doing: photo from a workshop about exploring waterbased materials.