Since school days onward, we’ve been mixing colour from three primaries. In many ways, it’s amazing how well this works, given that it’s not really governed by fundamental science. It’s all part of how we see, which is of course pretty complicated. I mused in my recent blog “Making Mud from Red and Blue…”, that not all secondaries are created equal and specifically, that a reliable purple is harder to get than a pleasant green.
Printing technology uses a different set of colours: the CYMK model. That is Cyan (a greenish blue), Yellow, Magenta (purple-red) plus the “Key” (which is actually black). Black is needed because in printing, colours are transparent. This is an important distinction as this technology is never quite the same as mixing opaque colours. Notwithstanding, if you look on the web there are all sorts of arguments out there as to why Cyan, Yellow and Magenta work better than the traditional primaries.
Monet et al knew nothing of all of this, but happily painted in the light of traditional colour theory. I would say they got pretty good results and there’s probably not as much controversy as some might make out.
That said, I recently picked up my spouse’s set of water mixable oils. She has a nice turquoise and a magenta, colours I do not use on my palette. I was struck by the alignment with a CYMK-based palette. I’ve had a lot of fun creating some nice works with these colours. If you want to try it, here’s a comparison of my basic palette (which I am by no means ready to throw out) and my recent investigations:
|My Palette:||Alternative Palette:|
|Azo Yellow Light|
|Naphthol Red Medium|
|Ultramarine Blue||Ultramarine Blue|
Join us for this Saturday’s Workshop: The Magic of Colour!