Colour Mixing with Triads

With so many colours available to us as artists, colour can quickly become overwhelming. Pulling together a colour palette can be a daunting prospect and can certainly hinder the creative process and prevent us from getting started on a project.

Colour is important, it can make or break our art. All those hours are wasted if the colours we use don't work together perfectly. Get the colour wrong and our art is inherently awkward to view. You only have to look at my mixed media piece 'Secret Love Affair' to see what happens when colour goes wrong, something I know need to go back and fix.

It is because of our mistakes that we find solutions, so am I upset that I have to revisit one of my pieces of art that took weeks to make? Not at all, in fact, I'm pleased as without this mistake I never would have found the power of using a limited colour palette in the form of single pigment triads.

Reduce colour to the basic three primaries, Yellow, Red, and Blue and never worry about colours not being cohesive again. It can be any Yellow, red, and blue as long as the colours are made from a single pigment (something I will discuss in a later post coming soon). For a soon-to-be-released artwork 'Clouds of Glee', I chose Yellow Ochre PY 43, Quinacridone Red PV 19, and Prussian Blue PB 27. This is probably my favourite colour-mixing triad and one I will be using many times across my work.

The power of three

The three pigments used for 'Clouds of Glee' and some of the colours mixed from these three colours lifted from my mixing tray.

By using a limited colour palette of only three pigments, a cohesive range of colours will be created. This is clearly illustrated in the image above. Look how perfectly every single colour sits together when made with a triad. We can use the colours of the rainbow in our artwork as long as the rainbow of colours is made from a colour-mixing triad. Three pigments can make so many colours, more than we could possibly need in one artwork. The best part of all is that it takes the stress out of colour so we can concentrate on other elements of our art.

It's triads all the way for me.

A pattern created using Adobe Capture from 'Clouds of Glee' to illustrate the cohesive colour achieved by using a colour mixing triad.