Intuitive Colour Mixing

Intuitive Colour Mixing - student project

While walking on the beach I thought about the tube of Daniel Smith English Red Earth watercolour I purchased a few months ago for a particular project and haven’t used since. I like the colour and suspected it would contribute to some subtle colour mixtures. I decided to combine it with Winsor & Newton Permanent Rose and W&N Cobalt Blue.

Intuitive Colour Mixing - image 1 - student project

I occasionally use this method for experimenting with colours. The top row shows the three colours I am combining, a saturated and dilute version of each. The remaining blocks are sometimes mixtures of two of the colours, but more often mixtures of all three in different proportions. I arrive at the colours intuitively, usually mixing what is left on my brush with water and/or with another colour.

Plenty of mindfulness is needed while filling this matrix. I like to place light and dark, tints and shades of the colours in a pleasing way without planning ahead. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter if a colour seems ugly by itself, it will almost always look good with the other mixtures, and the objective is mainly to find as many different colours as possible and enjoy doing it.

I next decided to try mixing the English Red Earth with colours more spread around the colour wheel, in this case W&N Winsor Violet and W&N Permanent Sap Green. Basically these are the secondary colours orange, violet, and green, where English Red Earth is a very desaturated orange.

Intuitive Colour Mixing - image 2 - student project

I like both sets of mixtures. They contain colours I might not otherwise have discovered that I can use in other projects.

In fact, I decided to use the first set of colours for a greeting card. Although more structured, this painting is also quite intuitive since I didn’t plan the arrangement of colours, just placed them as I painted. I used high quality paper for this, so the colours are more vibrant.

Intuitive Colour Mixing - image 3 - student project

I got the idea for this random net design in Keren Duchan’s class, Doodle Art meets Watercolour: Paint an abstract Net Design. You can see my whole project for that class here:

Anna Day
Calligrapher & Designer