Archive for category Subject: Colour Mixing

500 Acrylic Mixes || Sharon Finmark

This is in the same format as its companion on watercolour, which appeared last year. Once again, Sharon has provided a work which is much more than just a list of colours, but one which shows you how they are used in practice as well as when to use them.

Pretty well all of what I said before applies here so, rather than repeat myself, please just click the link to read it.

Click the picture to view on Amazon


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600 Watercolour Mixes || Sharon Finmark

Books on colour mixing are both ridiculously easy and ridiculously hard to review. On the one hand, you can see at a glance whether they’re any good but, on the other, you rack your brains trying to work out how you’ve arrived at your conclusion. And, into the bargain, there have been dozens in the past few years and, let’s be honest, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. It really is like watching paint dry!

So, I’m not going to be excited about another one, am I? Except that I am, and I can tell you exactly why. For a start, this is by Sharon Finmark, not maybe the most prolific author, but a presence on the scene and someone I associate with the art rather than the mechanics of painting. In fact, what on earth’s she doing getting into colour blobs? And that’s where it gets interesting because, although there are plenty of said blobs, they don’t look like blobs. Hang on, what do I mean? Yes, what do I mean? Well, they look like something you might try out on a piece of practice paper as you go along, rather than a painstakingly constructed grid done to prove – well, ultimately to prove nothing. The other strange thing is that, although the title implies a heavy tome, this is quite a small book and only has 176 pages. I’m going to take their word for it that there are 600 mixes here, which is a lot, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

It gets better because the book is peppered with practical painting stuff like Overlaying in practice, Wet-in-wet in practice, Colour, light and shade. The usual approach is to organise everything by colour and then relate any token illustrations to that, as if anyone says, “I know, I fancy a bit of Payne’s Grey mixed with Cerulean Blue today”. Of course you don’t, you look at the sky and mutter, “Wow, I’ll have a bit of that, now, what colours do I need? A bit of wet-in-wet, mix on the palette or on the paper?” That’s the challenge of painting; it’s the finished result, the visual interpretation, the mastery of technique. Not the ruddy colour mixing, that’s just a means to an end.

So, here’s what this is. It’s a book about painting that comes at it via the practicalities of making up the hue and shade you want. It is, if you like, coming at its avowed subject backwards, which is entirely the right way to do it. If you have any other colour mixing books, throw them away and buy this, it’ll be the best favour you ever did yourself.

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Complete Colour Mixing Guide || John Barber

As far as I can see, this owes a huge debt to the author’s previous Colour Wheel series of books. However, where those were a new approach to the whole colour mixing thing, this one bears every resemblance to all the many other books of its type, the only real difference being the layout of the colour charts.

What you get is a series of radiating arms working out from the central base colour and mixed in decreasing proportions with eight other colours. As a colour guide, it’s confusing because you only get one set of mixes on each page, so you have to get though a whole lot of often similar charts in order to find the shade you want. Other books, which tend to work in blocks of colour, seem somehow easier to follow, or at least less intimidating.

The other thing is that this is an all-media collection: you get acrylics, oils and watercolour all in the same book and there are precious few example paintings, so no real points of reference. If you want a book of colour mixes, there are plenty of others out there (many also from Search Press), so it’s worth shopping around.

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The Pastel Colour Wheel Book || John Barber

The format of this series is becoming familiar and the idea is that you can use the 8 projects, which include full-colour step by step demonstrations, in conjunction with the colour wheel built into the front cover. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but sometimes gimmicks concentrate the mind and, with the emphasis here on relatively simple combinations of colours, you can explore the possibilities of the medium, freed from at least one layer of complication.

If there’s a gripe, it’s that the paper chosen makes the illustrations look dull which is, it has to be said, a neat trick when the medium is the pure colour of pastel.

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The Oil Paint Colour Wheel Book || John Barber

The basic principle of this ingenious series is by now established. The cover includes a simple colour wheel and then the body of the text provides a series of eight demonstrations based around specific colour combinations. Neither of these things is original on its own, but the idea of putting them together is really quite inspired and provides a way in to what is for many a tricky subject.

The original watercolour volume used a trick paper that was supposed to mimic watercolour paper, not altogether successfully, but neither of its successors has gone down that path. However, the illustrations in both do seem rather dark, here to the point almost of murkiness and I do wonder whether there is a reproduction issue.

That aside, the series is a bold and largely successful attempt to provide a way through the maze that is colour mixing and is to be welcomed for that.

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The Acrylic Paint Colour Wheel Book || John Barber

This is the sister volume to the previous one on watercolour and, if it follows the success of that, it’s a fair bet we’ll be raising quite a family.

Most of what I said previously applies here. It’s a gimmick, but sometimes gimmicks make you sit up and suddenly understand what has previously been a problem subject. I still think that the illustrations are a bit flat, even though the trick paper has gone. Nevertheless, there’s a good variety of subject matter and the medium is used in both impasto and as a wash, so you get to see most of the techniques you’ll want.

I don’t think this is a book you’d buy at any price, but equally, it’s certainly not a tenner wasted.

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The Watercolour Wheel Book || John Barber

OK, this is a gimmick. It’s a book with a colour wheel on the front cover and a series of projects inside that are based on the mixing combination you can get from playing trains.

Actually, before we go any further, I have a couple of reservations. First up, the paper the book’s printed on: I think it’s supposed to look like a NOT watercolour paper, but it has the effect of making the illustrations look dull, the colours flat. Second, the actual quality of the artwork. Put it this way, let’s just say I’ve seen better.

But… But none of that matters because, although this is a gimmick, it’s a completely fresh way of looking at the whole problem of colour mixing and it might be just the thing that makes the whole tricky subject understandable for you. A friend of mine says that, if you want to call yourself an artist, colour mixing should be instinctive. However, the fact of the matter is that plenty of people one certainly wouldn’t call incompetent do struggle with it and the are a lot of books out there that sell in the sort of quantities that suggest it’s an ongoing struggle.

Will this be the one that stops the sales of all the others? Well, maybe not, but it’s an honest and imaginative attempt and, at less than a tenner, no more that the price of a colour wheel on its own, so worth a punt, I’d say.

Search Press 2008

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