Mixing yellow

In my last post I was a bit disappointed with my colour mixing and had a Cunning Plan to simplify by using collage rather than mixing paints. The idea was to concentrate on identifying the colour I was seeing and select a match from my collection of painted papers. Each time I do a colour mixing exercise I paint any remains on some paper, which is later stored by colour in a series of envelopes.

The flaw in the Plan was quickly apparent – I didn’t have any of one of the major yellow I was seeing. I have around 40 different yellows in the Yellow envelope, similar numbers in the yellow-orange and yellow-green envelopes, and none of them were the right yellow.

I then came up with Cunning Plan B. I mentioned The new Munsell student color set in this post listing colour books. The set includes 264 colour chips that you assemble on Hue/Value/Chroma charts. Very useful, but of course only a small fraction of the full colour space. I wanted more when I did the exercise (this is a few years ago), so I created and printed a series of 40 A4 pages, each one showing a different hue in a table of 9 values and 7 saturations – 2,520 colours. Cunning Plan B was to look at my object, refer to the printed pages to find the right colour, print that out and use the result in the collage.

Interestingly (to me at least!) once I identified the colour I wanted in my colour table I was able to get a clearer idea of how to mix the paint. This was also helped by reading Claire’s post about exercise 2, where she wanted to shift hue, but achieved it using a smidgen of complementary colour. Cunning Plan C was born. A mix of lemon and cadmium yellow, some white and the smallest hint of purple was what I needed.

Here is a compilation photo showing clockwise from top left: the selected colour printout, leftover paint ready to go into my collage envelope, my object (the lemon, although without its blue background), slightly left is the collage attempt with the gap where no yellow was right, then down to today’s mix of yellows which were just what I wanted (ie Plan C), and today’s print of selected colours ready for collage (Plan B).

Plan C was the winner – just what I was looking for. It was basically the colours I played with back in exercise 1, but much, much, much finer steps in the mix.

I was surprised that Plan B didn’t give me quite what I wanted. For whatever reason (different inks or paper or possibly even printer), the colour printed today didn’t quite match the colour I printed and stored a few years ago.

1 Response to “Mixing yellow”


  1. 1 Claire B November 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Those are seriously good resources you’ve been collecting Judy. What a help. Love the photo, it really shows the exercise well.


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