If you know me, you know I LOVE colour! I love painting with bright colours and then, when needed, layering pastels to create greys. This de-intensifies the saturated colours. Seeing colours in greys can sometimes be tricky. It all just looks grey! With time, deep looking, and the tips below, you’ll see the colour that’s there in the grey!
And I’ve just made a video for YouTube with a demo (sped-up) showing me painting a grey subject using colour!
Have a look below.
The three tips I mention in the video to help you see colour in greys are:
- Keep your eyes OPEN! To see value, we squint. To see colour, we want our eyes open to let in all the light. Often we can concentrate to see the colour which sometimes leads to squinting. Uh uh.
- Run through the primary colours – Blue, Red, Yellow – as you look at the grey colour
- Use something to help you separate the grey from the surrounding colour. I find the Viewcatcher Viewfinder with its tiny hole a perfect way to do this!
Here’s the reference photo I used for my demo:
Of course, if you know me, you know how I love my thumbnails! They’re a fast way to sort out the three main value areas as well as designing an intentional composition.
Here’s my thumbnail:
The demo video goes by very quickly (!) so here are a few stills for you to see the progression.
First, the underpainting with the three values set up. You can see I used warm colours to start!
Then I begin to build up the layers. I work from the big shapes, working loosely. The details will come!
More layers of complementary colours give the feeling of a greyness without being grey. You can see how I’ve layered cool colours over the warm underpainting.
I decided I needed to lighten the area in the window so I loosely applied my lightest colour to lighten AND harmonize the whole.
And finally, the details emerge!
And here are the 10 Unison Colour pastels I used. You can see my lightest light (Unison Colour Grey 27) on the far right.
Have a look at the thumbnail beside the final painting shown in black and white.
I hope these tips and my demo give you some help with seeing colour in greys.
Do you have a question about how to see colour in greys? Then be sure to leave it or any thoughts you may have in the comments below.
And do let me know if this opens your eyes to the colour possibilities in greys!!
Until next time,
PS. As you can see, the light areas dominate in this painting! To understand more about value dominance, click here.
PPS. Want to see the video in real-time with a full voiceover? Then join us in the IGNITE! An Art-Making Membership where we go deep into this topic of seeing colour in greys!!