The Visual Thrill of Color | Acrylic Painting Ideas

Chris Cozen is back with guidance on acrylic painting for beginners! In today’s guest blog post, be inspired with ideas for experimenting with color. For a limited time, Chris’s Acrylic Color Explorations is included with Acrylic Artist (Summer 2016), Guide to Acrylic Mediums, and a set of disposable palettes in this exclusive collection. Enjoy! ~Cherie

Acrylic painting ideas | Chris Cozen, ArtistsNetwork.com

‘Reflections’ by Chris Cozen, who says to “limit your pigment choices but push and pull them to develop all their nuances.” PIN this!

On Color and Acrylic Painting by Chris Cozen

Hello again! As always, I’m so pleased to be able to tell you all about my favorite subject–acrylics. I am all about color and that’s why I’m so happy that I finally took the time to gather up all the bits and pieces I’ve learned along the way and put them into Acrylic Color Explorations: Techniques for Expressing Your Artistic Voice so you could have them as well.

Acrylic painting ideas, color wheels | Chris Cozen, ArtistsNetwork.com

Wheeling through color … 

When I was writing Acrylic Color Explorations I found myself making dozens of color wheels so that I could explore various red-blue-yellow pigment combinations. Each one was a marvel to me. What I learned from all those wheels was that acrylic color is infinitely malleable and easily tweaked and adjusted. I also learned that you can get by with a lot fewer colors if you fully understand what the colors you already have can do. Before writing this book I had never really considered keeping a color journal to record the discoveries I made as I intuitively mixed on my palette. I learned as I went along that a journal would help to encourage my own color explorations and push me to experiment more. I hope you will consider starting one of your own. You can follow some of the lessons in my book to get started or just experiment. I like using a bound journal with 140 lb. watercolor paper. This allows me to record water media explorations as well as straight acrylic without bleed-through. This sturdy paper holds up to collage, glazing and markers as well.

As always, when working with acrylic color it’s important use the best quality paint you can afford. I always use Golden Artist Colors but will branch out to include other acrylic products or alcohol inks for fun. Artist quality paints have the most pigment per ounce and are the most cost effective in the long run. If you’re just beginning, consider using “student grade” paint which has substantially better pigment strength than craft paints. One of the points I talk about in Acrylic Color Explorations is that you should know your pigments. Some are good mixers and others not so much. Whenever you add Titanium white to any color you will create a tint. The transparent qualities of some pigments will also be affected by the addition of white shifting them to opaque or semi-transparent. This is a great exercise to add to your own color journal.

Acrylic painting ideas | Chris Cozen, ArtistsNetwork.com

Chris’s color journal for acrylic painting. Colors used on left side are Nickel Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turquoise, and Titan Buff; colors used on the right side are Napthol Red Light, Transparent Pyrrole Orange, Paynes Gray, Titan Buff.

Color All Around

I’m living in the Northeast right now, which is a long way from California, where I usually call home. I arrived here in Ohio at the very beginning of spring. I was visually thrilled every time I went outdoors to see the variety of greens on display as the new leaves developed. Anything from gray green, to chartreuse, lime, blue-green and more. I ran to get my color wheels to see which pigments I could use to capture them. I keep them with my color journals so I’m always ready to record color when I see it. This kind of color exploration will really improve your ability to see and record the colors you experience.

There are all kinds of ways that you can explore color in your journal! One of my favorites is to choose three colors that you don’t ordinarily use but already own and then find out what they can do. First combine each of the colors with white and with black to create tints and shades. Then start exploring what happens when you mix two of the colors together, then two more and then the last two. Each of these secondary colors can have tints and shades as well. If you like mixed media, add your painted papers and collage elements to your color journal, or use an image as a prompt to explore color. I often draw on the top surface of my color pages just for fun. The pages of Acrylic Color Explorations can give you more than enough material to get you started in your own color journal.

Artfully yours,
~Chris

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