Paint Watercolors With Only 3 Colors

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When watercolor painting beginners think about getting started little thought is given to color mixing.

  1. Why is this so?
  2. Is it because watercolor paint manufacturers can supply almost any color imaginable?
  3. Does this mean that you need to buy all the colors that are available?

Question 1 is easy to answer … People are used to living with color. Your home, your car and your clothing can be chosen in almost any color you want. Even your food contains extra coloring to make it more attractive.

Color is all around you … so much so that you do not give it a second thought …

A watercolor painting beginner does not realize that mixing is fine art in itself.

Question 2. Modern technology allows an incredible range of every strength and quality. This was not always so … at one time colors like Ultramarine Blue were rare and expensive, being made from ground Lapis Lazuli, a rare and precious stone. There is a reason that Purple has been associated with Royalty … it used to cost a King's ransom.

Question 3. Just because you have the world of color at your fingertips does not mean that you must use every different color there is to buy. If you use basic theory the only colors you need to mix any that exists are …

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Yellow

It can not be simpler .. We learn this at school.

The difficulty is that basic color theory is just what it states … it is theory. It relies upon true perfection … A True Mid Blue, A True Mid Red and a True Yellow.

Unfortunately there is nothing that is perfect. When a professional artist uses a selection of colors to create a version of reality … it is personal choice and experience that determines what colors to use.

Expert mixing is a luxury that a watercolor beginner does not have. This is why you rely upon guidance from experts. The problem is that many experts can only tell you what they use in general terms … They overcomplicated mixing …

  • They will give you a range of colors that they have used during their art career
  • They tell you what colors they like to have available to use.
  • They show you what is possible if you were to use the colors suggested

It does not mean that a professional artist uses all of the colors at the same time. The best paintings are often the ones using the few colors … they work because they emphasize subtle mood and tone.

Watercolor painting allows you to use the least number of colors to achieve the widest range of mixes.

Because the watercolor paper provides White you only need 3 colors … a red, a blue and a yellow to mix almost any color you like.

And this leads to the next question … "Which Red, Blue and Yellow?"

Essentially, try to experiment with any red, blue and yellow and try to get the best results you can. Only change one color at a time if you find that you do not get the secondary colors you want.


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