I’ve been doing a lot of research and study on colour mixing and color theory. I want to give the students in my Landscape Oil Painting class a colour wheel that works with the pigments we are using and reflects current thinking on colour theory. Well, what a can of worms I have opened!

It’s been quite some years since I first studied colour theory and I have been carrying the model learned then around in my head ever since – I have to say it has served me OK. However, lately I’ve been wanting to delve more into this area to update myself with contemporary science on the subject and to be able to pass a useful and relevant construct of that on to my students for their ongoing development.

As a result I have had to go back and rethink a lot of my approach to colour. Not that my methods are wrong, it is just that I have been using flawed information that was taught to me, tempered with my own experience and judgement. It was the latter part of that which, like a form of subjective conscience, kept tapping on my shoulder and saying, “that doesn’t seem right, there must be a better way to do objectively define this”. So finally I dove in and started the search for a new colour process with which to work.

There is so much misinformation out there! People of all manner of ‘expert’ status, having been admired for their paintings, then deciding to teach their methods as ‘gospel’, obviously without doing any research on the science. The internet, the instruction videos, the books, thousands of different opinions, methods and explanations of natural phenomena, a huge percentage of which is contradictory, ambiguous, flat out wrong, or just plain silly.

People with no credible qualifications are giving flippantly giving definitive explanations to gullible followers in areas where the worlds top-most expert brains are still debating the research after years of study.

Well, through this process of research, I have set myself a few goals:

  • Firstly to not preach any flawed theory as is happening almost everywhere
  • To start using correctly, the contemporary terminology that is agreed as correct at the highest levels of colour study.
  • To point out to my readers a few of the useful and errant things I find so that they too can start clearing some of the colour theory fog from their process.
  • To share some of the great references that are at the top of the reliability and information chain (and possibly debunk a few who claim to be)
  • To design the perfect colour wheel for my own palette and requirements.

I will write about this more in future blogs. For now, I want to share a great exercise I came across in my web travels relating to colour.

How good do you think your colour judgement is? This simple drop and drag test will give you an idea and it’s fun.

Online Color Challenge

I am happy to report I found it easy and got a score of 100%. How will you go?

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PS: In Australia, the word is spelt “COLOUR”. On my site I often spell it like that and often like “COLOR”. This is done deliberately for the benefit of search engines trying to find information on the subject where people in different countries use different spelling.