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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > FREE Sample Issue > Choosing and using colour

Choosing and using colour

This month Martin Kinnear talks about the opportunities and pitfalls of choosing and using colours, with particular emphasis on colour arrangements


I know you’re thinking ‘I’ll skip this, it’s another article on colour’, but as one professional artist to another, don’t. Colour choices make or break paintings, and for contemporary painters it’s generally the latter, because hundreds of ready-to-use and seductively bright colours are so readily available.

In the first article in the series (May 2017) I showed you that colour isn’t the primary means of creating a strong painting, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Corot put it well when he said ‘The most important things in a painting are form and value. Colour comes last – like a friend you welcome.’

Choosing colours

There are thousands of artists’ colours, but luckily they all fit within one of just six colour families: red, violet, blue, green, yellow and orange – see the colour wheel (below). This is the running order of a triadic colour wheel of course, and a working knowledge of it is the most powerful practical painting skill a painter can have. Let’s look at the benefits of knowing and using this system:

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About The Artist

Paint lively watercolour landscapes using the hard and soft edge technique, learn how to capture the movement of water in your watercolours, become a wedding sketchographer, depict the figure in pastels, improve your compositional know-how, develop your colour-mixing skills - all this and much more in this month's issue! Hazel Soan encourages you to you paint informal portraits, BBC1's The Big Painting Challenge winner Suman Kaur shares her top ten tips learnt during the series and David Gould explains how he combines digital and traditional techniques to create contemporary artworks. Soraya French is back to invite you to discover the joy of mark making and create a mixed-media landscape, whilst Jake Winkle reveals the importance of interpreting your subject for more creative results. Charles Williams talks about the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Ian Sidaway tests the new Winsor & Newton Professional Water Colour Paper range, Glyn Macey shows how Andy Warhol's work can inspire new approaches, and Adebanji Alade offers his regular motivational tips to keep you painting with energy and confidence. Enjoy!