Yes, there is a watercolor book that has this very title, and yes, it is worth reading cover to cover.

To understand color, for me there was no better way then studying it in the watercolor medium. I worked in watercolor for years and it had a great side effect- I came to understand the nuances of pigments and mixes. I learned that Cadmium Red has bigger and heavier pigments in it than Indian Yellow- which is more like a dye or “stain” because the individual color pigments in this yellow are very fine and “lighter” in weight. So Cad Red can act like a bull moving through water and the yellow will glide around like a penguin. Makes a difference in washes and in technique, especially in control of the medium.

But the biggest thing I learned was that all colors go toward either yellow or blue. I mentioned this last week and here is what I mean. ALL COLORS GO TOWARD YELLOW OR BLUE… that’s it.

Yep, I am sassy.

So in any color that you can pick up or pour out, it will be naturally “kicked” toward one way or the other. Technically, we all know that mixing yellow and blue together will get a green, but not all yellows are true yellow and not all blues are true blues. Paints are tainted. Only if you mix a yellow that leans toward blue and a blue that leans toward yellow will you get the cleanest, clear green. It is another one of those amazing rules of physics and nature.

So when I put my new pastels in their new home, they looked like this… these are four different sticks, that I picked from the “grey” (ugh!) sticks. (grey is not a color, remember?) And yes, these are all slightly different from one another… the ones on the left go toward yellow and the ones on the right go toward blue… they are each a bit different although they seem very similar here…

and so they got separated like this….

Yup, these are the exact same sticks as above- why do they look different? Many reasons, like they are now sitting on a darker background, and are in a different, natural lighting situation. (so this is why I don’t care to lay out my pastels by color hue and especially by value… they will change as their environment changes…. including on your painting… but they don’t change as to how they are “kicked”… but I digress…

This is how they look in the drawer… that is them at the bottom up against the wall between the yellow-dominant colors and blue-dominant colors.

This leads to controlling colors with regard to temperature and keeping the integrity of the light source in any situation. Light is always either warm or cool, hey… toward yellow or blue… hmmm. This could be useful…

more next week…