Primary-Secondary Intensities

I’m continuing my epic quest to fill up a watercolor pad with little dots of color.  I think my friends think I’m nuts, but I continue to learn a lot.

I made these charts first with gouache and then watercolors, and they’re called intensities.  They showed me what happens as you gradually dull or “grey” a color.  In doing them I realized I was making a line directly across the color wheel, and that most color wheels are utterly insufficient.  I always wondered where grey and brown were on the color wheel, how you “get there.”  The answer that I discovered from these exercises is that the center of the color wheel, which color-wheel manufacturers fill up with text and “this is what happens when you add red” should be filled with colors which mute down until the exact center is a perfect grey.

I did a Google search for a color wheel showing what should really be there, and couldn’t find anything until I added “gray” to the search terms.  Even then, it was not easy, but I found this FABULOUS explanation by Jeff Mellem, which took what I had discovered and added value to make a 3-D model which contains all the colors.  Check it out!

I’m not sure this image at the right, from Mr. Mellem’s site, is exactly what I want, since the colors seem to go straight from fairly intense to grey.  Do you see brown, olive or eggplant on there?  I really don’t.  The search continues.

Getting back to my intensity charts, I began to realize that only if your colors are perfectly across from each other will you hit grey in the middle, so that charts like this are a good test of your particular hues.  For example, if you’re adding blue to orange, and on the way through you make green, and never really get to perfect grey, one (or both) of your colors was too yellow – the yellow skewed the line across the color chart towards the yellow-green side of grey.  Not that that means those colors are no good, but that you should be aware, “These hues make a lovely deep grey green, but they won’t go any greyer unless I add something opposite to yellow-green, such as a violet, to pull the color back into the center, and if I want grey, other paints might be easier.”

During these charts I decided to stop wasting white gouache on white paper and just use water to lighten the value.

I’m doing these exercises based on the course Color Theory Made Really Easy by Sandra Angelo, which I’m ready to resell.

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