Saturday, February 27, 2010


When I was in art school I made so many color wheels my head was spinning. So when the subject of primary colors came up recently with a photography group I participate in on FaceBook I thought I ought to share some of my acquired knowledge. But rather than just blithely rattle off red, blue and yellow I went seeking authorities: Primary colors are sets of colors that can be combined to make a useful range of colors. For human applications, three primary colors are usually used, since human color vision is trichromatic. The combination of any two primary colors creates a secondary color.

For more discussion see Wikipedia.

What I found interesting about this foray into what I thought I knew so very well is that I use tertiary colors more in my paintings than I had thought. In fact I could say that my palette is primarily tertiary. A tertiary color is achieved by mixing one primary color with one secondary color. Since a lot of colors are bought "premixed" as it were artists are less consciously involved with the color wheel than my professors in the '60's would believe.

Now instead of color wheels we do these charts that give us the likely outcomes of mixing any two of our paints together. Sometimes you achieve happy accidents. I may be overdue for another chart because I have added colors to my palette.

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