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Pigments and the colour wheel

Julie Collins begins a new series in which she goes back to watercolour basics, with a look at colour theory and pigments, and sets an exercise for you to try

Julie Collins studied painting at the University of Reading. Her work is exhibited widely in the UK and she has received numerous awards. www.juliecollins.co.uk

It is good to get back to basics, no matter how experienced you are in a given subject. A few years ago a very competent painter attended one of my beginners’ watercolour workshops, saying he believed that this was the best way to gather the most information and advice. This is very true – beginners require a great deal of basic information. Going back to basics is almost like having a spring clean as it can freshen up your work.

Primary, secondary and tertiary colours

The primary colours are red, yellow and blue and cannot be made by mixing other colours. Mixing the primary colours together in equal proportions produces the secondary colours, as shown (below): violet (from red and blue); orange (from red and yellow); and green (from blue and yellow). The tertiary colours are created by mixing a primary colour with an adjacent secondary colour. The tertiary colours are: orange-yellow, red-orange, red-violet, violet-blue, blue-green and yellow–green.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our summer issue in which our team of top professional artists and tutors offer a sparkling range of inspirational features to help you create your best work over the summer months. Capture the sparkle of silver light on water with Chris Rose, enliven your watercolours with moving figures with Jake Winkle, use contre-jour for dramatic effect with Jo Quigley, paint spring and summer trees in watercolour with Ian Sidaway, or a coastal scene in acrylics with Paul Talbot-Greaves. Julie Collins goes back to basics with a look at colour theory and pigments, Ann Witheridge suggests using an extended palette for portraits, Amanda Hyatt offers a variety of tricks to help you produce better watercolours and there is a host of exercises to try throughout the issue. All this and much more, plus don't forget to enter this month's summer sketching challenge set by Adebanji Alade on page 46, for a chance to win a £50 voucher to spend on art materials with GreatArt!