Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 223

Color Charts, Reds and Greens

I know this isn't much of a painting, but it's going to have to do. Day 2 of recovering from one of the worst migraines I've had in years, and while I'm up and around today, I feel tired and sore all over.  This chart was all I felt like painting - it was actually soothing because it gave me something to do, but I didn't have to think too hard. 

Color charts, my favorite exercise. I first learned of them three years ago from Richard Schmid's book, Alla Prima (I highly recommend this book, written by one of the greatest living artists), and painted my own at the time using the colors on his palette. Since then, I've been experimenting with different colors, and thought today would be a good time to make charts for some of them. 

These are the reds and greens I've been using a lot lately, but you can make charts with any colors you use on your palette. What you do is mix each color with every other color and lighten progressively with white. So, the first row is the chart for Cadmium Red Light. The first column is cad red light by itself, lightened with white. Second column is cad red light mixed with cad red medium (then lightened with white), third column is cad red light mixed with magenta (then lightened), fourth column is cad red light and burnt sienna (then lightened) etc, etc. 

The second row is the chart for Cad Red Medium. First column it's mixed with cad red light, second column is cad red medium on it's own, third column is cad red medium mixed with magenta, etc. etc. Then you keep going - the third row is the chart for magenta. First column is magenta mixed with cad red light, second column is magenta mixed with cad red medium, third column is magenta on it's own, fourth column is magenta mixed with burnt sienna, etc, etc. The fourth row is the chart for burnt sienna.  Hope that all made sense. That's as far as I got. I'm ready to go back to bed for a while...

When I started making color charts several years ago, something shifted in my work. It's really an amazing way to learn about what the colors on your palette can do, and to train the eye to detect subtle nuances between colors. When I first learned about it, I spent two weeks making charts. It was actually fun (and fascinating) for me, and even if you don't find it fun, it's absolutely worth the time, especially when you can keep your charts and refer back to them as needed. 


  1. I have seen those color charts in Schmid's book and I even got so far as to grid off some boards... but I never got past that!

    Maybe I should revisit those boards...

    I hope you're feeling better :)

  2. Thanks, Allison. Feeling much better now. Those color charts are totally worth it!

  3. Sorry you were feeling bad. I just came upon your blog and just yesterday was reading about color charts but weren't sure what they were so thanks for the good explanation!

  4. Karen, thank you. I'm so glad you found it helpful.