Now it doesn't matter whether they are watercolor or gouache, at a molecular level the pigments are transparent or opaque no matter what is mixed with them. However, the transparent effect of the pigment is more noticeable when you use watercolors. If you are using watercolor, you may need to add a little white to your paint when you make your transparent pigment color wheel. Your paintbox should include one of each of the colors listed above plus black and white. If it has more like brown and green, hooray, but the six colors listed above are the colors that you will use most. You can mix every hue you will ever need from these colors.
Exercise 1: Transparent Pigment Color Wheel
To get familiar with using your paints and mixing colors make a color wheel like this one with the three primary colors in the transparent list. If you are using tube paints, squeeze a dot no bigger than a chocolate chip on a white ceramic saucer or similar pallette. Whatever you are using, moisten your paints with a few drops of water at a time and mix until it is the consistancy of hand lotion. Clean you brush between colors with water and wipe clean on a paper towel.
Draw out a circle diagram like the one above on a piece of heavy paper or card stock, divide it into 12 sections, and then number them. It doesn't have to be neat or perfect since it is just an exercise.
This wheel shows the locations of the Primay, Secondary, and Terciary Colors.
Paint the Primary Colors
Using only the unmixed colors from the transparent list, paint the 1, 5, and 9 squares as in the picture above.
Paint the Secondary Colors
Mix a small amount of yellow and an equal amount of blue to make green on your pallette. Try to make it as close to a medium green as possible. Paint it in the #11 square between the blue and the yellow. Clean your brush and repeat the process for the other two Secondary Colors to make Orange for #7 and Purple for #3. I want to emphasize that this exercise to learn the behavior of your paints, not to create a perfect picture. Don't worry if your colors don't look like the ones on the screen exactly. If they are way off, you may need to buy a different brand of paint or adjust the way you are mixing them.
Paint the Terciary Colors
Mix a little blue into half of the green that is left on your pallette to make blue-green. Paint the #12 square between the blue an the green. Repeat for yellow-green in #10 and so on until you have filled in all the Terciary colors with yellow-orange, persimmon-orange, plum-red, and deep-purple.
In the next lesson you will learn how to paint the small borders and decorate them with whitework.
Exercise 2: Opaque Pigment Color Wheel
Repeat the first exercise but use your opaque colors Cerulean, Vermillion and Yellow Ochre. You will find that these colors will give you different hues than the transparent colors did. You will not be able to get a nice purple color but the greens will probably look better than the transparent greens. Compare your two wheels. Compare the colors you have made with your paint set to colors in pictures of historic illumination. What colors were used the most? Did they use bright, vibrant colors or drab colors? Can you tell when they were using transparent pigments and when they were using opaque pigments?
Exercise 3: Find the effect of the color of paper by painting color wheels on sheets of tan parchment-like paper or non-white rag paper. Compare to the color wheels painted on white paper.
Go to Lesson 1: Small Bar Borders .