Oil Painting Colours | Use of Colours

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When it comes down to choosing colors for your painting, you’ll first need to consider what message you are trying to convey with your piece.

For example, when you look at paintings by Claude Monet, you’ll notice that there are hardly any browns, blacks or earth tones at all. Instead, there is a wide variety of bright colors that evoke the beauty of the natural world.

By comparison, the later paintings of Francisco Goya utilized very dark hues with lots of contrast. These colors help depict the dramatic, nightmarish, fantasy aspects of the paintings.

So when deciding what colors to put on your palette, consider what you’re trying to represent. The colors you chose will have a huge impact on the feeling a viewer will get when looking at your painting—maybe even more so than what’s actually depicted in the picture.

Realistic Pieces

Color choice is easy if all you’re trying to do is recreate an actual scene. In this case, you’ll want the colors to be as close to what you actually see as possible. If you can, when mixing colors on the palette, actually hold them up to the objects you are painting for comparison.

Obviously no one will know if they’re a bit different, but if you want to truly capture the scene exactly as you see it, choosing the correct colors is an important component. The feelings you get when looking at what you’re painting are in part due to color. You want your viewer to get the same feelings when they look at your work. Mix your colors with care.

Creative Pieces

For creative pieces, you have an unlimited palette to choose from, and this is where it gets a bit trickier. Before mixing colors, imagine the painting in your head. Imagine it on the wall of a gallery with someone looking at it, and think about how you’ll want them to feel.

Van Gogh liked his paintings to look very vivid and bright, so he used a lot of complimentary colors right next to each other. If he wanted someone’s hair to look bright yellow, instead of focusing on the yellow, he’d paint the background a purplish blue to make the yellow really pop out.

When he painted real scenes, he’d change the colors in his painting to convey something different than what he actually saw. Just think: you could paint the same exact scene with five different palettes of color and have each painting present a drastically different message.

Realistic colors would make the painting seem simply like a photograph. Bright colors would give it a more surreal and perhaps optimistic quality. Dark colors would make it somber and mysterious. Really think about the message you want to convey before choosing colors.

In conclusion, it’s hard to get advice from other artists about your color palette because it really just comes down to personal choice. The most important thing to remember is that a painting isn’t just a picture; it’s a vehicle to convey a message, just as any novel is. What do you want your painting to convey?

mastering painting colours 

Oil Painting Colours | Colours in Oil Painting | Use of Colours: 

  1. Choosing Colors to Communicate Your Theme
    Choosing colors to communicate your theme is part of any kind of painting whether you be attempting to paint in acrylic or paint in oils.
  2. How to Create a Hue Circle | Colour Wheel Combinations for Painting
    It is easy to create your own hue circle as long as you understand how a color wheel works. Basically it involves making your own palette that consists of the colors that you want to use in your work of art.
  3. How to Use Different Colors to Paint Realistically
    If you are a beginner artist you might be curious as to how to use different colors so that your painting is represented accurately and realistically. Here are a few oil painting tips that can help you achieve the desired effect.
  4. Color Intensity and Understanding Color Combinations
    Understanding color intensity and color combinations in painting is easy once you understand a few of the basics. If you learn how to master color combinations then you can make your paintings much more expressive.
  5. Basic Colour Theory in Oil Painting
    You probably remember learning about the primary colors when you were a young child beginning school, but you may not be aware of the terms secondary and tertiary colors that describe the rest of the spectrum and combinations of color.
  6. How to Paint People - Different Flesh Tones
    Like many other things in painting, it’s something that will require practice and quite a lot of trial and error to get right, and a lot of the time it also just comes down to personal preference.
  7. Choosing Colours in Art Paintings
    Color choice is a hugely important component of any piece of art. Sometimes the hues of a painting will evoke a stronger feeling in the viewer than the things actually depicted in the painting.
  8. Making Paintings Look Realistic and Believable
    Some artists like to paint abstractly, using shape or color to convey their message (Jackson Pollack is one of the most famous artists who never painted actual scenes).
  9. Tips on Color Mixing and Theory
    When mixing colors for painting, the basic rule is that there are three colors that cannot be obtained from a mixture of other colors. They are known as the primary colors and are red, green and blue.

If you are a new artist, check out the lessons designed for oil painting for beginners here...

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