Color Theory and the Color Wheel

DSC_0480Maybe, you should stop right here and make yourself a cup of strong coffee before you read any further.  I want you to stay awake until the end because it is going to be a long and very dry post.

This information may seem a little redundant as most if not all of this information is available inside every (how to) art book published. But here it is anyway:

Color Vocabulary

  1. Primary Colors:  Colors that can not be mixed from any other color.  On the color wheel the colors are Red, Blue, and Yellow.  In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows:  Process Red, True Blue, and Canary Yellow.
  2. Secondary Colors:  Two primary colors mixed together.  On the color wheel the colors are Orange, Green and Violet.  In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows: Orange, Grass Green, and Violet.
  3. Tertiary Colors: One primary color and one secondary color mixed together.  These colors are commonly referred to as hues.  On the color wheel the colors are Blue-Green, Yellowed-Green, Yellowed-Orange, Red-Orange, Red-Violet, and Blue-Violet.  In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows:  Parrot Green, Limepeel, Spanish Orange, Poppy Red, Mulberry, and Violet Blue.
  4. Warm Colors – Are aggressive colors that make object appear to move toward the viewer. The warm colors are Yellows, Reds, and Oranges.  If these colors are used to the maximum, it will inspire the viewer to feel anxious.  Ex: A painting of fire.
  5. Cool Colors –  Are receding colors that make objects move further away from the viewer.  the cool colors are Greens, Blues, and Violets.  If these colors are used to the maximum, it will inspire the viewer to feel calm. Ex: Ocean scene.
  6. Hue –   Another name for color.
  7. Tint –  Color with added white.  There are so many colors available in this medium today.  It is better to simply choose another lighter color than to layer a white over a darker color.  If you aren’t careful, applying this technique will flatten the vibrancy of the color that you are trying to achieve. (Unless you are burnishing)
  8. Shade –  Color with added black. I have the same feeling with this method as I do with Tint.
  9. Neutral Gray-  White and Black mix. It works but it’s a bit boring.  Using the color’s complementary makes the perfect washes for grays, shadows and browns.
  10. Intensity or Chroma – Brightness or dullness of a color.
  11. Value –  The lightness and darkness of a color.

Color Relationships

Colors create mood and different color combinations,  if applied properly,  will make your work convey the message that you want conveyed.  Whether it be calm, soothing, happy, intense, angry, and sad.  Color is that powerful!

  1. Monochromatic – Using any one color as tone, tint and shade.  The only way that I can explain this is that it like a graphite drawing but using one colored pencil.  Most popular colors to use are Sepia, Umbers and Indigo blue.
  2. Analogue – Are colors that lie adjacent to each other.  On the color wheel one combination could be Blue, Blue-Violet, Violet, and Red-Violet.  In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows: True Blue, Violet Blue, Violet, and Mulberry.
  3. Achromatic – Colorless scheme using Blacks, Whites, and Grays.
  4. Color and Light – Colors used to create a mood.  Intensifying some and receding other colors.  Ex: Painting of a dark street with one lone street light.  Intensifying the colors of the light and dulling out the surrounding street makes the light brighter dulling and receding the surrounding area.
  5. Complementary – Combining a tint or tone of one color and the color opposite of the color wheel.  Choosing a color’s complementary creates  neutral shades, shadows and a mix of beautiful grays and browns. Ex:  Yellow’s complement is Violet. In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows:  Canary yellow, and Violet.
  6. Split Complement – Choosing a color and using colors on each side. Ex: Violet, Yellowed-Orange, and Yellowed-Green.  In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows: Violet, Spanish Orange, and Limepeel.
  7. Diad – Using two colors that are two colors apart on the color wheel. Ex: Red and Orange.  In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows:  Process Red and Orange.
  8. Traid – A color scheme in which three colors are equally spaced from each other on the colored wheel.  Ex: Red, Blue, and Yellow.  In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows:  Process Red, True Blue, and Canary Yellow.
  9. Tetrad – A contrast of four or more colors on the color wheel. ex: green, violet, red and yellow.  In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows: Grass Green, Violet, Process Red and Canary yellow.
  10. Double Complementary – Color scheme that is two colors next to each other on the color wheel. Ex: green, yellowed-green, red, and red-violet.  In the Prismacolor range the colors are as follows: Grass Green, Limepeel, Process Red, and Mulberry.

This information barely scratches the surface.  If you are interested in a more in-depth study in color theory there is plenty of information available from the web as well as books dedicated to this subject.  If you draw from imagination you really need a intense working knowledge of color theory.  When drawing fantasy, your art still has to flow and the colors have to visually make sense, even if your skies are green and your trees are blue.

But if you are like me and you draw what you see,  simply separating your colors into their color family and knowing it’s complement will take care of most of the issues an artist would have in choosing suitable colors to make your art flow as it should.

Which leads us to this week’s lesson.

1 – Separate your pencils in to their Color Families. Below is the list of each family and a sample pencil color from each group.

Color                                         Prismacolor Color

Yellows                                       Canary Yellow

Yellowed-Oranges                    Spanish Orange

Oranges                                     Orange

Red-Oranges                            Poppy Red

Reds                                           Process Red

Red-Violets                               Mulberry

Violets                                       Violet

Blue-Violets                             Violet Blue

Blues                                        True Blue

Blue-Greens                           Parrot Green

Greens                                     Grass Green

Yellowed-Greens                    Limepeel


Warm Grays

Cool Grays

French Grays



***If you are having trouble choosing where a color should be classified, scribble your pencil on the edge of white sheet of paper.  You should be able to match it to the appropriate color family from one of the hue samples on the back of the color wheel.

2 – After you finish  grouping your colored pencils, you will need to make a chart.   There are many ways to this:

Chart A book – using card stock

Chip    A color chip using card stock

A Color Wheel Chart (click link)


This is what I find to be the most useful.  This was printed out on printer paper.

Whatever method you use, Be sure to list and include:

~The Brand of pencil

~ Number of pencil

~Color of pencil

~ Make each swatch 3/4 in. square and saturate each  with color (be heavy handed)

~Punch hole center of swatch area (that is lacking in two of the above examples).

This may seem boring, but it will give you a chance to get acquainted with your pencils as well as a working knowledge of how they perform.

Until next week….

Be Well and Happy!

You’re Beautiful!

Pink 1

Pink – Fan Art

Prisma Color on 9 x 12  98 lb.  XL Canson Mixed Media

 I know, I know…Pink didn’t sing You’re Beautiful, I am just stating a fact

When you draw or paint someone, the whole face is broken down into minute details.  I never realized just how beautiful people are until I started studying them.  And it isn’t just hypnotic eyes, a great set of perfectly arched brows or that square jaw that makes a person attractive.  It’s what we see as flaws that makes us beautiful and unique.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t turn that one brow in to two…cause if ya can (male or female)  you should. And I’m definitely doing all I can to slow that clock down.  But some things should be left alone.  Take Pink for example:  What I find is her most attractive feature is her front teeth.  The left tooth is a bit crooked and sticks out the tiniest bit.  Excuse the language, but she’s such a badass (there is no other word to describe a woman who can hang from a ceiling wrapped in a rope) that to me it gives her a little bit of vulnerability.  And makes her absolutely gorgeous in my book!

On with the portrait:  Pink is my first portrait painting and she wasn’t easy, but a joy to paint. The plaid shirt is what gave me a fit.  But when things got too difficult, I would just stop, take a breather and paint a little more.  I should have timed myself, but I  definitely have a lot of days and nights invested in this head study.

This portrait ends my summer on a good note because I did what I set to do.  And that was to complete art in colored pencil.

I hope this post finds you all having a beautiful and creative weekend.  And remember, you are beautiful.  And if you don’t see it then you aren’t looking in the right places 😉

Be Well and Happy!


colored pencil dog


5 x 7 Colored Pencil on Canson XL Mixed Media

Well, I said I wouldn’t post any art unless it was colored pencil and here it is.  I am so pleased with how this turned out. My favorite part is the eyes.  Man, I love drawing them eyeballs, LOL…

I am learning so much and I am getting more comfortable with colored pencil, it’s still a struggle but it is more controlled (which is a good thing).  And I am very excited to start something else, as soon as I figure out what that something is 😉

You guys have a great weekend!

P.S. Colored pencil Lovers: If you are looking for a paper give the Canson XL mixed media a try.  This paper has a lot of tooth and at 7.98 a pad from Jerry’s Artarama, it’s a real bargain.

Be Well and Happy!

Family Vacation 2013: Biltmore Estate-Part 1

Sorry for my absence.  But art wise up until a couple of days ago, I’ve been doing technical boring stuff in trying to get acquainted with my colored pencils.  I do have a piece started, that I’m fairly excited about, but so far I have only the background completed.

This year we were able to take a family vacation for the first time in years.  I can’t say it was relaxing and we were always on the go, but it was jam-packed with site seeing….I love trips like that.  It was extra special because the three of us got to spend time with each other without worrying about work or talking about school, or household chores 🙂

The first couple of days we went to Asheville so we could tour Biltmore Estate. This mansion was built by George Washington Vanderbilt and is the largest private residence in the nation.   The mansion is  178,926 square feet featuring 250 rooms representing the Gilded Age.  Today, it is still owned by the Vanderbilt descendants.  I think they or at least some of the family live on the property.

You talk about stupid money!… I love that place and this is was our third time visiting, but this was Alana’s first visit.

DSC03386 alana

And she actually enjoyed it too.  She’s a photography buff, so there was no shortage of interesting things to capture on camera.   If you live in the area and planning a wedding, this is the perfect place.  It has such a romantic setting.  Maybe one day I can talk Alana into getting married here…One day, a long way away, in the very,  very distant future, lol…

After touring the house we toured the gardens.  They were beautiful, but it was a tad bit too hot to go traipsing around, but we sucked it up.

The  coy fish in the picture below loved Alana.  It was the strangest thing.  The white coy would follow her around the pond, it would face her and also jump out of the water toward her.  I don’t know if it was her clothes or her camera but something drew this fish to her like a moth to a flame.


After touring the house and the gardens we toured the winery.  It was pretty interesting.  I’m not a wine enthusiast and not one to be able to appreciate a dry red wine so I found the taste pretty bitter. I did like the white sweeter wines though.  Poor Alana was bored to tears watching us drink, but she was a good sport about it.

Well, That’s it for Part 1 of our vacation.  Stayed tuned for Part 2:  ” The Ottaway’s Go To Washington.” hahaha

Be Well and Happy!

Welcome to my mess…


I’m a girl on a mission!  I have made a commitment to myself to learn how to mix color using colored pencils AND produce some artwork by the end of summer!  That means no Zentangling, no drawing and no sketching.  I love to draw but it was  my intention to learn to draw as a means of kick starting color work.  Instead  it’s all I do, because to me it’s easy and easy means safe.  So I’ve put my pencils away (for now) and my desk is littered with colored pencils.  Annnd of course my double cup a coffee!

Yes, once again my poor blog is suffering (as usual) but I’ve been so blessed to have the supplies, the space and the time to learn how to use colored pencils, and it’s a real shame that these lovely things are gathering dust.

I have been taking a video workshop and I have learned more in the first 15 minutes than I have  gleaned from the colored pencil books that line my shelves, that’s for sure.  I have always thought in books when artists convey techniques they either over simplify information or over complicate the information leaving a lot of stuff out.  Either way it’s confusing. But I guess I should factor in the fact that I never grade well in following directions in school, lol.

Now,  I am using my own technique in mixing colors and my own way of getting to know my pencils, but it’s working and I am feeling a little more confident in mixing.  So far their hasn’t been one color that I haven’t been able to match, so yay me!  This is a huge hurdle and I’m absolutely ticked to pieces.


Be Well and Happy!

Diary of an Iphone…

With a few days of scattered showers, I can now tell that our cars aren’t yellow and I can breathe at least half the time 🙂  I still got a few things accomplished and some things started and my week went a little something like this:

 A discovery that I liked this bookbookWhew!  I finally got through this book.  Usually, I can get through a book this size in a couple of sittings (if it grabs my attention and nothing is on TV, LOL) But this book took 10 times longer to get through.  What’s to blame?

The first couple of hundred pages was chock full of medical, scientific and historical fact and jargon.  If you are the professorial type  I see you loving it. But I’m not and I don’t.  I kind of  liken the beginning of the book  to The Big Bang Theory that has been stripped of humor and quirkiness.  And then you have to take in account that the author is a History Professor.  I gave me a melatonin effect. Zzzzzzzz…..

But when I reached chapter 22 (I think) the book became so fast paced and exciting.  And I think that the reason the beginning was so dry, is because the plot is so extremely complicated. And I am certain that if I skipped over the first part that I would not have understood a thing.  I thought about tossing the book aside and giving up, but I’m glad I didn’t and ended up loving the rest of the book!

This book contains just about all things paranormal with a little time travel thrown in at the end.  I am now looking forward to Book #2, can you believe it?  Here is an overview of the book.

Deborah Harkness, wherever you are, I so owe you an apology because even though the beginning was rocky, this was a great read 🙂Cinderella

  I wanted to read something not quite as heavy so I checked this book out from the library.  And I’m really hoping that this book is funny.  Going by the jacket it is promising. The name of the book is The Cinderella Pact and it is written by Sarah Strohmeyer.  Here is an overview of the book.


I also practiced a little witchdoctor’n or am I a medicine woman?






I wanted centerpieces for the kitchen and the living room.  And after a little research, I decided on terrariums.  I thought they would not only be pretty, but if I managed not to kill them I can repot them in bigger pots.  I was really excited to make these. But what was strange was David was excited too. Then I found out the reason he was so excited.  He thought, It would have some kind of themed village inside, like the Hobbit or trolls….uhhhh……I have one disappointed guy on my hands.

a pepper  There was a little art going on, but not much as I have had a headache off and on.   This is the red pepper and I have a yellow and green to go.  I also started a drawing of a dog.  Man, the reference is so ugly that it’s cute.  But as I get into the drawing, it’s starting to look kind of creepy.  So, I don’t know…I don’t have much time invested in it yet.  And it may just be too creepy to invest more time.

And last but not least, I am very glad that I come up with a new title for the posts…Diary of an Iphone..SWEET!


I hope you guys have a great weekend with big smiles and sunny skies 🙂

Be Well and Happy!

My Random Week?

I need to come up with better titles.  LOL

Well I do not know about you guys, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that it is spring in Virginia too!  It was snowing on and off all day yesterday and it is about 35 degrees as of 11:00 a.m. today.  People here are optimistic though, when I went out yesterday.  I saw plenty of capris, sandals and flip-flops.  Can you say CRAZY!

My week went like most others…a little something like:

photo (3) I am still working on the colored pencil book but I decided to take a break from that and start a drawing project.  I only started last night so there is not much to show as of yet.

 I have been trying to read The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkbookness.  The key word here is trying.   This book has had rave reviews like, “A page turner!”  “I couldn’t put it down!”  “Exciting!”  blah blah blah!  Me?  I’m having a hard time picking it up.  Is there something I am missing?  When I’m reading this book I have to make myself press on and it  is not pulling me in to the story line.  I’m still kind of early on, so I am going to make my self read more in hopes that it is just a slow start.

And in the Ottaway household, the youngest Ottaway got her  Driver’s license this week and Saturday she gets her class ring. I think she’s excited, but I’m never sure.   Good times ahead for Alana… scary and sad times for us.  Oh Joy! ~cue Sunrise, Sunset

Well Gosh, I guess that is about it.  I hope your week went well and weekend is better!