Thursday, 3 June 2010
Some years ago, whilst studying for my fine art degree, I was discussing colour theory with my life drawing and painting tutor, and he mentioned to me that one of the most useful things he had ever done with regard colour (In a traditional painting sense) was to keep and update a detailed personal colour diary.
He described his approach to this and how he would paint down and record all of the colours in his collection so as to have a actual visual reference at hand of how any paint would look when it was dry, and how by doing this he was then able to more accurately make colour decisions and judge how any given paint colour would behave when applied, as opposed to just referring to the printed representation of the colour on the paint tube label. A record was also to be made of the various pigment properties and qualities of the paint (Transparent, Opaque, Permanence etc), and the dried appearance of the paint could also be noted (Matt, Glossy etc), plus diluted, and tinted effects explored. He also suggested this colour recording method be expanded to include any subsequent experimental successes with colour (mixes, combinations etc) and so used to make notes of any personal colour preferences as a route to ultimately discovering a personal working palette through developing first hand experience and knowledge of paint colour behaviour through recorded experimental exploration, as opposed to simply seeking to adopt the old masters palettes or such strategies.
Recognising the merit of this idea at the time, I took him up on his suggestion and put together my own slightly ramshackle version of a colour diary, which has been progressively refined, reshuffled, and added to over time. I think it’s a great working asset and a really useful learning method too, and thought it would be a good thing to share online.