Florida painter, Everglades, Marco Island, artist Jo-Ann Sanborn


January Palms, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on canvas, 24"x36"

Today's Everglades painting is one you might have seen before, not because I havent' done anything new, but because I'm having house guests, six dear friends and family in our small home, and not much is normal this week!  I have little access to the office, and the photos I took of my new daily was such a poor quality that I just couldn't subject you to it!  Every artist has painted a few favorites, and this is one of mine.  I love the rich colors and the abundant palms, found in several places in the Fakahatchee.  But today, I'm writing about Color Mixing. 

When I have a class, the first thing I do is ask everyone to introduce themselves, and tell a little about what they'd like to get from the class.  Very often the answer is color mixing. While I can teach them about color wheels, color theory, color value and color temperature, I can't give them hard and fast reliable methods for color mixing.  Here's why:

Color sense is very individual, and you and I are most likely even seeing slightly different colors when we try to match.
  • Color itself is affected by many different factors.  What color is the light on the object?  Is it warm or cool?  What angle is it coming from?  Is it a strong color in tinting strength, or a weak color?  In addition, an atmosphere filled with dust, water or pollution will have an effect of the color of an object.
  • Although great strides have been made in recent years, we're still discovering how luminosity, color vibration, and chromatic light affect our perception of color.  
In addition, when we squeeze colors out of the tube, we cannot reliably predict the results despite all our color knowledge.  That's because when we mix two paints together we don't really know what we're working with.  Stapleton Kearns  calls it substance uncertainty.  Here's why:
  • What's in the box?  Each tube of paint produced by the manufacturer varies by dye lot,  sometimes more than just a little
  • Sometimes manufacturers change the formula without telling us
  • Colors with the same name vary between manufacturers
  • Colors have different tinting strength and often one color will dominate the mix.
  • Mixed pigment colors and hues are especially unpredictable because they can contain all three primaries
So here are some hints for getting your color mixing it under control:
  • start with a limited palette of primary colors, a strong red, blue, and yellow of about the same strength, plus white, and use them until you are comfortable mixing them into colors you need for your painting.  Note that you will not have a full value or color range, but should be able to make a convincing painting.  Some artists use this palette for years.  I did!  
  • After getting comfortable with the above, use a warm and cool of each of the three primaries plus white.  You'll have a much greater range, but still manageable. 
  • Do a value scale with every one of the colors on your palette, and every time you add a new color.  This will show the tinting strength of the color, and how it works as a tone and shade.
  • Make a color chart by making a sheet of paper into square with artist tape.  Place your three primaries plus white across the top of a sheet of paper and down the side in the same order as across.  Follow each color to the box and fill in the obvious mix. 
  • Make a color chart for each new palette you chose.  You will learn the full range of colors available from your choices. 


SKIZO said...


Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

Thanks so much!

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