Colour Mixing

At the still-life acrylic workshop with Melanie Cambridge last Saturday, she explained to us about using different combinations of colours to achieve different effects within a painting. I wrote down all the combinations and have googled some images which help make sense of the colours that could be used.

Melanie first explained that we’re used to using complimentary colours, which are opposite on a colour wheel, often of a primary colour and a secondary colour. We mix them together, or to make the colours appear vibrant, we paint them next to each other.





If we move on to use analogous colours next to each other, then a painting will look harmonious. This is because the colours are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel, so are very similar but slightly different. The colours can be a primary, secondary and a tertiary colour, or any 3 adjacent.




Then there is the triadic palette which uses colours that are evenly spaced on the colour wheel.



Lastly, Melanie explained about the Zorn palette of colours.

Named after Anders Zorn, a famous Swedish artist who lived from 1860 to 1920. Zorn did use a range of colours in his landscapes, as he used blue for water and sky, but he used only 4 colours to paint most of his portraits.

A couple of the exact colours are no longer available, such as lead white or flake white, but modern equivalents suggested are…Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red and Ivory Black.

These four colours can be mixed together to make all skin tones needed, as the colour chart of the Zorn palette shows.

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As an example, this portrait was painted in 1899 by Anders Zorn, and is of Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President of the USA.

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