My Books

12 July 2018

Art by the Book: Beginning Color Mixing

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Kimberly Adams’ Beginning Color Mixing: Tips and Techniques for Mixing Vibrant Colors and Cohesive Palettes is a fantastic book for new artists wanting to learn more about color in a way that inspires the newbie to dive into vibrant colors with confidence. Adams begins with a discussion of basic materials, then moves on to techniques in a very accessible manner.

I have taken numerous classes that talk about the color wheel, values, tones and shades, but rarely is the matter discussed so thoroughly in a way that is easy to understand and approachable. Illustrated with lots of lovely paintings, mostly by Adams, with contributions from a few other artists, the concepts and applications of complementary, analogous, triadic and other color schemes are easily understood. Adams then goes on to review each color group in detail, with helpful tips for pairings, how to achieve certain effects and correct problems. I know I will be returning to these helpful hints on a regular basis in future.

The challenge for a beginning artist is to know how to begin the actual painting. You have your subject, your materials and your color scheme. You have determined the relative light values. You have even sketched out the major characteristics of the scene. But what to do next? How do you begin to layer on paint in a way that provides depth and perspective, and most importantly, ensures your painting does not look like a child’s coloring book? Well, Adams provides guidance in a step by step fashion by showing several of her paintings in various stages of completion, with a discussion of what she did at each stage and why. The subject matter, while all landscapes, is varied: a lighthouse, clouds, meadows and forests. As a result, the discussion never feels “paint by numbers-ish”.

The book is accurately called Beginning Color Mixing”, and while an excellent reference for beginners or those lacking confidence in the use of color, more experienced artists may find it too basic. For me, it was just right and will be a much used reference in my studio.

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