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Old 10-22-2013, 08:11 AM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
19,357 posts, read 13,015,780 times
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The term 'complimentary' may be confusing you.
The word's use is in it's ancient definition- something for free, at no cost.

For centuries, artists always manufactured the paint they used before they began a painting. They bought pigments (raw minerals and earths) or dyes (colors extracted from plants, insects, etc) in dry chunks, the cheapest form, ground the pigments up in pestles, and added oils, drying agents, and thinners. Black and white, the other two necessary colors, were the easiest and cheapest to obtain.
Black was made from charcoal, and white was made from ground bleached bone or white clay.

The invention of oil paint during the Renaissance was revolutinary. Before oil paint was invented, water was the only solvent used, and water dries very fast. The old way of making color had to take this drying speed into account.

Water-based paintings were done using only black and white at first, going to complete detail, similar to a black and white photograph. Then the color was very thinly applied on top of the dry underpainting, just the same as how black and white photographs were colored.

Artists already understood that blue and yellow mixed together created green, but the fast drying allowed only small amounts of green to be mixed on the pallet at a time. Trying to mix one consistent green that could be used all over as the painting progressed was impossible. A big glob of mixed green dried up on the pallet.

Oil paints could be mixed to dry much slower. All that was needed was more oil in the mix. So green could be mixed at cost, using a green pigment, or could be made for 'free' by mixing small quantities of the blue and yellow pigments, which always must be purchased. A big glob of green on the pallet could now be used at any time during the painting.

As a handy reference for mixing, the color wheel was invented. After an artist ground his primary colors, he could experiment mixing the secondaries, and a rough circle of dabs of each color became a device that is still used today before a painting begins.

Then as now, artists search for vibrancy in their work. The use of oil paint allowed artists to create color as our eyes perceive color, and was the last great invention before the used of entirely synthetic pigments developed, over 400 years later.
Acrylic paint is entirely synthetic, and due to this, is a great mimic. It can act like any of the ancient paints with tweaks in it's chemistry.
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:26 AM
 
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I just found a most interesting - and basic - color wheel in Robin Hopper's "Making Marks". For primary and secondary colors, he used triangles which take the eye right to the correct point on the next wheel.

All that beside the point, I was thinking. Am I right? The primary and secondary colors have definite names that everyone uses and recognizes. Perhaps the tertiary also have. I don't know those. But, after that, definite names for each color. If that wheel were extended as far as possible, the colors would come "true" but no longer bear commonly-used names. It gets complicated and the artist gets creative - meaning how far could those circles extend? Not very far, I am thinking.

Hmmm? Maybe the question is really in the mixes. Mix red and blue; get violet. Mix red and yellow; get orange. Are the measurements the same with each mix. Always half and half? I'm talking about the basic color wheel now - not experimenting where you'd see what different measurements would do.

If all that doesn't make sense, ignore me. I am out and about for the day. Thanks.
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:11 AM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
19,357 posts, read 13,015,780 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hazel W View Post
I just found a most interesting - and basic - color wheel in Robin Hopper's "Making Marks". For primary and secondary colors, he used triangles which take the eye right to the correct point on the next wheel.

All that beside the point, I was thinking. Am I right? The primary and secondary colors have definite names that everyone uses and recognizes. Perhaps the tertiary also have. I don't know those. But, after that, definite names for each color. If that wheel were extended as far as possible, the colors would come "true" but no longer bear commonly-used names. It gets complicated and the artist gets creative - meaning how far could those circles extend? Not very far, I am thinking.

Hmmm? Maybe the question is really in the mixes. Mix red and blue; get violet. Mix red and yellow; get orange. Are the measurements the same with each mix. Always half and half? I'm talking about the basic color wheel now - not experimenting where you'd see what different measurements would do.

If all that doesn't make sense, ignore me. I am out and about for the day. Thanks.
You've got it right!
The only thing that you will find in reality is most of the color mixes are not actually 50/50. Yellow is very weak in it's abilities to tint compared to red and blue, so a true 50/50 optical green mix will require more yellow than blue to make the 50/50 green.

Past the 6 colors of the basic color wheel, the most common names indicate which direction the colors are going. Red-orange is going to have more red than yellow, while yellow-orange is in the other direction. Red-red-orange is going to be mostly red.

It starts getting twitchy in the tertiary colors. Orange-red orange is hard describe, but easy for the eye to discern. (This one actually has a common name- vermillion)

There are also inherent weirdnesses. The color blue, for example, is had to find in materials that make natural pigments. Ultramarine blue was once only made from grinding lapis lazuli, a semi-precious gemstone, or true gem stones like sapphires.
Ultramarine blue is a very warm blue color that, when mixed, can made a very warm looking green. Purple is warm violet.

When natural dyes were invented long ago, blue dye came from plant extractions. Some of these could be distilled and concentrated, and artists found that they were cool looking colors, which produced violet and a cool green.

When synthetic pigments and dyes were invented, they threw everything into complication. Now an artist can choose just how warm or cool he wants blue to look, and can used either or both at the same time in a dizzying variety of subtle shades.

The same it true with black and white. Trying to reproduce white in particular is super hard. There are a million slight variations of white.
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:19 AM
 
Location: USA
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Is the purpose of some of these posts to show who knows the most?
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Old 10-22-2013, 04:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rubi3 View Post
Is the purpose of some of these posts to show who knows the most?
No, the purpose of these posts is for me to learn how to look at colors and lines. I hope it isn't too boring for those who already know all this. It certainly helps in art appreciation which is really another aspect of the art field. If no one appreciated your art, you'd have no reason to paint, would you? And, if I didn't understand how it is put together, there'd by no art appreciation, would there?
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Old 10-22-2013, 04:24 PM
 
2,473 posts, read 2,729,125 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banjomike View Post
You've got it right!
The only thing that you will find in reality is most of the color mixes are not actually 50/50. Yellow is very weak in it's abilities to tint compared to red and blue, so a true 50/50 optical green mix will require more yellow than blue to make the 50/50 green.

Past the 6 colors of the basic color wheel, the most common names indicate which direction the colors are going. Red-orange is going to have more red than yellow, while yellow-orange is in the other direction. Red-red-orange is going to be mostly red.

It starts getting twitchy in the tertiary colors. Orange-red orange is hard describe, but easy for the eye to discern. (This one actually has a common name- vermillion)

There are also inherent weirdnesses. The color blue, for example, is had to find in materials that make natural pigments. Ultramarine blue was once only made from grinding lapis lazuli, a semi-precious gemstone, or true gem stones like sapphires.
Ultramarine blue is a very warm blue color that, when mixed, can made a very warm looking green. Purple is warm violet.

When natural dyes were invented long ago, blue dye came from plant extractions. Some of these could be distilled and concentrated, and artists found that they were cool looking colors, which produced violet and a cool green.

When synthetic pigments and dyes were invented, they threw everything into complication. Now an artist can choose just how warm or cool he wants blue to look, and can used either or both at the same time in a dizzying variety of subtle shades.

The same it true with black and white. Trying to reproduce white in particular is super hard. There are a million slight variations of white.
Thank you. Your first paragraph explains it. So, what the world labeled as "green" doesn't actually get a 50/50 mix. We've decided "this is green" and come to an agreement - perhaps taking it from nature first.

More thinking to do here.
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:27 PM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
19,357 posts, read 13,015,780 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hazel W View Post
Thank you. Your first paragraph explains it. So, what the world labeled as "green" doesn't actually get a 50/50 mix. We've decided "this is green" and come to an agreement - perhaps taking it from nature first.

More thinking to do here.
Yup. Nature's colors are the basis for all color.

One thing that hasn't been discussed yet in all this color theory is saturation.

Saturation is a term for the density of a color. Any color that comes straight from the tube is at it's full saturation.
But in the world of art, and in nature, most of the colors aren't fully saturated. This is particularly true in representational art, where tints (adding color to white) and shades (adding black or a complimentary color to a color) are used to imitate the appearance of light sources in nature. In representational artworks, very little fully saturated color is used.

That's not the case in abstract art. The Fauves (French for "beasts") painted landscapes and portraits in fully saturated colors, which made their subjects brutal to the eyes of viewers who were totally conditioned to seeing such paintings filled with delicate shadings.

The color wheel shows all colors in equal saturation. In reality, some colors are used almost completely in only partial saturation. Red in particular is one.

But in application, some colors have greater tinting strength than others. Did you notice I said a tint was color added to white? Not white added to a color? This is the way the tints are mixed on a palette.

There are many colors that are so strong in their ability to tint that to obtain the right light color would take a ton of white added to them. By starting with white, a small dab of a strongly saturated color can be easily lightened with a bit more white or darkened by a bit more color.

The other thing about tints is: a color can look much different when tinted than in full saturation. Some red tints take on a blue quality, which can look more violet than pure red, while others take on an orange quality. Very few natural pigments stay true with white added.

There are more colors of white than any other color. Some whites have a yellow quality, some blue, some green, etc. The most widely used white artist's paint used now is titanium white, which has a very bright, very slight blue-white quality. Bone white is a warm white, titanium white is an intense cool white. White lead is as neutral as white gets, but it's a hazard now, so it's no longer sold in most countries.

While yellows aren't very opaque, the reason it takes more of it to make a 50/50 visual mix, they can be very strongly saturated, so can really change tints.

Shades are when black is added to a color to darken it. Black color is stronger than white in it's abilities, so black is added to the color.

Very vibrant blacks are accomplished by mixing 3 or more highly saturated colors. Two are complimentary, and the 3rd adds the desired effect.

Painting leaves that are shaded by other leaves on a tree, for example, can be achieved by mixing red into green, creating a warm grey, then a dab of blue can indicate the coolness of the shaded leaves. Or, in an autumn scene, a dab of yellow can warm the dark grey.

Professional artists very often keep a piece of paper handy to experiment with all of this stuff before they apply the paint to the painting. Others will correct on the painting, dabbing corrective color into the wet paint. Many artists do color sketches, small rough paintings of the subject, first. Sometimes there are many color sketches done before a painting commences.
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:41 PM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
19,357 posts, read 13,015,780 times
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One last thing...
There is transparency to be considered.
Some paint mediums are opaque, and others are transparent. Oil paint, for example is opaque, and water color is transparent.
The color wheel displays opaque colors only.

When actually painting, opaque colors can be made transparent with the addition of oils or additives that vastly dilute the color without destroying the film strength (which is needed to hold the paint to the background). But transparent colors stay transparent.

Creating green with a transparent medium like water color can be easily done by painting yellow over blue when the blue is dry. Or painting yellow over red to create orange. This can be done with oils as well.

One reason why acrylic paint is so popular is it can be used as a transparent or opaque medium equally. An artist can paint big opaque areas, then overpaint delicate glazes of transparent color, often giving a painting a richer quality than opaques alone can make.

All whites are opaque. Mixing them into a transparent color creates an opaque tint. Blacks are more transparent.
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:54 PM
 
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Oh, thank you again. This is wonderful. I must get some paints and play with this. It has been years and I didn't do much even then. What kind of paint is best for just playing at mixing and learning what the colors do? Not water colors, I don't think. Think I used to use tempera. Never oils.

The chapter that got me started on this is in a book for ceramicists. Last night I read that they have one disadvantage that painters do not have. It is very, very difficult to fire a piece of pottery after the painting and glazing and have the color come out as you expected. I have a friend whose hobby is in pottery and she says this is very true. The glaze and, more, the heat changes the color you applied and thought you were going to get.

Rothko. I was wondering as I read about how the various colors put side by side react on each other and cause us to see them differently in different combinations. Is this what Rothko was doing when he painted so many of those works with just three rectangles of different colors? If so, I shall have to start all over with a new appreciation of him.

I really do appreciate the time you have given to this. Especially the last. I knew none of that.
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:05 PM
 
Location: Maryland
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Default Three color wheels

There are three color wheels that affect what you make. You may not be aware of them all and none of them works for all situations. There is one for mixing paint, called the painter's color wheel. Red, yellow and blue are the primary colors. There is another for use in putting colors next to each other, called the subtractive color wheel. It's primary colors are cyan, magenta and yellow. It's what's used in printers. They don't really mix ink together but spray dots of ink next to each other on the paper. Since paper is usually white all you need to add is black and you have every thing you need to mix any color - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black - CYMK. The other color wheel is called the subtractive color wheel and it's used for mixing light, such as is used on stage sets when shining lights on scenes and actors.

When I'm mixing colors I know that orange and blue are complementary colors but when I have blue on a painting it seems to call to me for yellow color. I use a lot of transparent colors and glaze them out a lot and consequently there's a lot of light mixing going on. I can't say that I sit down and plan everything out. I've learned to listen to the painting and let it be what it wants to be. However, I know that the three color theories are all real and affect what I do and how it looks, whether I believe in any of them or not.

Many people swear by the CMY color system while others stick to the RYB, but it all depends on what you're doing. To complicate things, really good lightfast pigments usually aren't pure - they tend to some neutralness to them. Also, it's hard to match your primary colors exactly with lightfast pigments. Even if you can, they're of differing levels of transparency and opacity. Plus some are stronger than others and therefore overpower others. Best thing to do is get familiar with them all from reading and studying, but most importantly but just make art and learn as you go. If you wait until you feel like you know exactly what you're doing you'll wait forever. If you feel, as I do, that we don't create things but instead discover things that were already there and are given the privilege of revealing them to others then you'll start feeling comfortable to letting the painting tell you what to do.

And I can't stress enough how religious this topic is. Do some reading. You'll see. In the meantime, just make art. In the end, it's all that really matters.
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