The second color wheel that you will make requires eighteen colors. For our purposes, choose pigments that can be applied directly out of the tube. I would have been able to do this if I hadn’t misplaced my Cinnabar. Though most people think of cinnabar as a red, in oil paint, it is a lovely shade of yellow green.
To evaluate the intrinsic value of each hue I have used oil paints for the color wheels in both Lesson One and Lesson Two.
Draw a 7″ diameter circle. Using a protractor, carefully mark off 20 degree segments. With the same yellow you used for the Color Wheel in Lesson One, paint one of the segments. Moving counter-clockwise, skip two segments and paint the next with the same orange you used for the Color Wheel in Lesson One. Skip two segments and paint the next with the red you used before. Skip two and paint the next with the purple you used before. Skip two and paint the next with the blue you used before. Skip two and paint the next with the green you used before. Skip two and you find yourself at the yellow. Well done!
Digging through your supply of paints, or mixing if you have to, paint the segment to the left of the yellow with a yellow/orange color. Paint the segment to the right of the yellow with a yellow/green pigment (this is the one I would paint with Cinnabar if I could find it). Work your way around the color wheel…paint thinly but opaquely.
Yellow/Green ….. Yellow …. Yellow/Orange …. Orange/Yellow …. Orange …. Orange/Red …. Red/Orange …. Red …. Red/Purple …. Purple/Red …. Purple …. Purple/Blue …. Blue/Purple …. Blue …. Blue/ Green …. Green/Blue …. Green …. Green/Yellow.
Whew…… That was incredibly labor intensive, wasn’t it? I hope you had a glass of wine or single malt scotch handy and that you had your favorite music playing.
Let that dry for a day or two. Place your grayscale overlay on top of the color wheel and determine the intrinsic value of each hue. Scan or photograph the overlay on the wheel and transform it into grayscale mode. See how accurately you evaluated the values of each hue.
Try the overlay wheel in all three positions: covering the primary and secondary hues, covering the hues to the right of each primary and secondary, covering the hues to the left of each primary and secondary.
If you have made it this far I applaud you! You have set the foundation upon which to build an understanding of color. By understanding color, it becomes a tool that will bring you both joy and frustration, but mostly joy. You will begin to understand how the sun and the sky work together to paint the landscape of our world. Not only will you begin to understand it, you will be able to paint it with confidence and pleasure. With the confidence gained by the ability to paint what you see, you will be able to expand reality, transforming it into what you imagine and what you feel.
I will jump back and forth between the science of color and the artist’s application of color.
During the next two weeks I will post examples of painting from these two color wheels before moving on to Lesson Three. I want to make sure that everyone has time to complete both color wheels as well as the value scale overlay.
The Colors I used are as follows:
Yellow: Cadmium Yellow Light Hue (Couleurs a l’Huile)
Yellow / Orange: Cadmium Yellow (Winsor & Newton)
Orange / Yellow: Cadmium Barium Orange (Permanent Pigments)
Orange: Cadmium Orange (Winsor & Newton)
Orange / Red: Winsor Orange (Winsor & Newton)
Red / Orange: Cadmium Red Light (Winsor & Newton, Winton)
Red: Grumbacher Red (Grumbacher)
Red / Purple: Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Winsor & Newton)
Purple / Red: Mauve (Grumbacher)
Purple: Ultramarine Violet (Winsor & Newton)
Purple / Blue: French Ultramarine Blue (Winton)
***Blue / Purple: French Ultramarine Blue (Winton) mixed with Cobalt Blue (Winsor & Newton)
Blue: Cobalt Blue (Grumbacher)
Blue / Green: Phthalo Turquoise (Winsor & Newton)
Green / Blue: Viridian (Winsor & Newton, Winton)
Green: Permanent Green Light (Winsor & Newton)
Green / Yellow: Cadmium Green Pale (Winsor & Newton)
Yellow / Green: Cinnabar if I had it…. I mixed Cadmium Green Pale (Winsor & Newton) with Cadmium Yellow Light Hue (Couleurs a l’Huile)
*** The Blues and Purples are a challenge to present in oil. The warm and cool characteristics of the blues and purples are more apparent in watercolor. (See the Color Wheel below) I want the wheel to show the ability of the purples and blues to carry the lower end of the value range when applied in full saturation. Manganese, Cerulean and Cobalt Violet are fabulous colors. In full saturation, however, they are lighter in value than cobalts, ultramarines, prussians and phthalos.
As I mentioned in Lesson One, move on. Don’t let the imperfections stop you from completing the task. This watercolor Color Wheel is one I painted almost forty years ago when I was attending a school for Commercial Arts. Clearly, I had problems with the orange segments ( and others ). I still have this wheel because it has been incredibly useful to me over the years, in spite of its imperfections.
I’m finding that my scanner interprets the colors in its own way. Please take the time to make your own color wheels. I promise that you will be glad you did. Pour another glass of wine and enjoy the music.