Part 2 Project 1 Exercise 2 – Primary and secondary colour mixing

The instructions for this exercise are quite detailed and involved, so I won’t repeat them here.  We are asked to use our prepared grey ground for this exercise  (I made two – one on acrylic canvas paper and another on heavyweight watercolour paper, I used the watercolour paper for this exercise).  First we were tasked with identifying our most intense primary colours from the range of paints that we have – I noticed that the instructions didn’t actually say what type of paint to use for this exercise, so I tried most of what I’ve got.

I used a range of acrylics, gouache and finally the watermixable oils (without water).  I found in all cases that the oils gave the purest, cleanest primary colour.  However, as suggested in the notes, I had to fiddle about a bit with the Cobra Ultramarine blue to get a good primary blue.  The Ultramarine has a slilght tinge of red to it. I tried adding a dot of green to neutralise the red in this blue but I ended up with a lovely turquoise.  When I added a dash of water to the ultramarine blue, however, it created a good primary blue.

We are then asked to create scales – yellow to red, yellow to blue and red to blue.

Colour scale – Cobra water-mixable oils (without water)

Typically, whilst doing this exercise, we arrive at the secondary colours – green, orange and violet.   As per the notes in the instructions, mixing blue and red together does not achieve a good violet/purple, it is very muddy, almost brown.  I didn’t really arrive at a true violet for this exercise but as I already have a good pre-mixed violet in the set I purchased, I will use this in future exercises.

We are then asked to make the same scales, however adding in white to maintain a consistent tonal value.  I found this quite difficult to achieve and not sure if I understood how to do it correctly.

Colour scales adding white – Cobra Water-mixable oils.

One thing that did appear to be correct though was the mid-way result between red and blue – according to the notes, this should create a brownish grey and that is exactly what I have achieved in the above test.

Primary and secondary colour mixing on A3 pre-treated grey ground.

Note to self:  I was going to purchase some more acrylics, as I didn’t think I had very many hues to choose from for future work.  However, after going through these initial exercise with the Cobra oils, I am going to invest in some more of them, as they are really gorgeous paints to work with.

One thing I have gained from this exercise is to always do colour scales with new paints in future.   I thought that the Daler Rowney or Art Discount brand of acrylics would provide the strongest primary colours but in some cases (blues particularly), the Daler Rowney gouache provided a better saturation of colour.

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