Colour Theory Part 1

Primary coloursColour theory Part 1

Are the three primary colours all we need?
Many people are taught that the three primary colours can make every colour of the rainbow or spectrum. In the natural (i.e. rainbow colours) sense they can but it depends on which primary colours you use. If you use Red, Blue and Yellow in the traditional primary colours you find in the paints we use, you will be disappointed. Let’s look at Cadmium Red, Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Yellow. Although these colours are almost “must haves,” they aren’t the purest primaries and aren’t good for making clean secondary colours like green and purple. I’ll explain why;
Cadmium Red has yellow in it. When you try mixing Cad. Red with Cobalt Blue it makes a dirty brownie purple. This is because of the yellow in the cad red. If you add yellow to a pre-mixed purple straight out of the tube, your purple will start getting muddy. You are in fact adding purple’s complimentary colour, which in fact is the colour used to make brown. I.e. purple and yellow = brown. Dirty violets have a prupose but not if you want a clean colour.
Cobalt Blue has red in it. When you mix Cob. Blue with Cad. Yellow, you get a muddy green. It’s great for landscapes etc where you’d like olive greens but if you’d like that intense clean green for design or décor art it won’t happen. Red is the complimentary for green and green and red = brown. So the touch of red will start to brown off the green.
Cad. Red plus Cad. Yellow do make a clean orange because both these colours have red in them so mix your oranges if you wish.
Next week I’ll explain the best, most simple colour palette for mixing a complete array of secondary colours. Keep doing what you’re doing and stay tuned!

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