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How to CHOOSE colours for a watercolour painting

Knowing which colours to choose for specific subjects, paintings and ideas that you have can be tricky.

Firstly there are so many colours out there to choose from. We often have a large amount of colours in our box to choose from, and you might think that simply squidging a little bit of each watercolour out is a good idea.

Why not have access to as much of the colour wheel as possible?

Actually having lots of colours on your palette can make colour mixing much harder, simply because you have more choices! And with that comes more likelihood of not getting the colour you want and/or creating muddy or sludgy colours in pursuit of the colours you want.

So limiting the amount of the colours on your palette is a great way to bypass this, but more than this, choosing a limited and concise colour palette often makes for much better paintings. Colour harmonies and strong colour designs are born naturally out of the your so colour choices before you even start painting.

So, how do we choose the right colours for particular subjects?The key is in understanding that each primary, secondary, or even tertiary section of the colour wheel can have various colours within it. Each one of these having their own cool or warm bias.It is this cool or warm bias that significantly influences the colours that you can achieve with each colour. And then when combined with other colour choices, this further accentuates, or limits this accessible colour range.

For example a warm Blue (therefore all ready purple bias) mixed with a Cool Red (also then having a purple bias) will give us a much brighter and cleaner purple than using a cool Blue and a Warm. Neither of which are "interested" in turning purple!

So with a fairly basic understanding or your watercolour pigments, the colour wheel and how this effects you colour mixes you will be much better equipped to easily choose the right colours for your particular individual paintings.


Previous Video on Warm & Cool Colours:


Other Recent videos:

How to work from photos:


How to Create Strong Light with watercolours

Do this with watercolour


Previous Watercolour Bites Episodes:

1) Basic Terms - Colour vs Tone -

3) Tonal Values (Part 1)

4) Tonal Values (Part 2)

5) Tonal Values (Part 3)

6) Single Most Important thing in Watercolour

7) Simple Watercolour Process

9) Watercolour Brushes

10) Mixing Darks

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