Class 16 | Color : Basics

Materials Needed

  • gouache paints from Supply List
  • brushes
  • ruler
  • t-square
  • pencils
  • 9×12″ bristol


The Elements: basic components used as part of any composition, independent of the medium.


  • Hue: Designates the common name of a color, determined by the specific wavelength of a ray of light and/or its position in the spectrum or color wheel.
  • Saturation: Refers to the relative purity of a color or its inherent light.
    Levels of Saturation
    • Prismatic Color: As pure a hue as possible with pigments/paint.
    • Muted Color: Colors that lie just outside the prismatic zone, created by adding black, white, gray or a complement of a hue.
    • Chromatic Gray: Grays that exhibit a subtle, but discernible hue, created by adding larger amounts black, white, gray or a complement of a hue.
    • Achromatic Gray: Grays that lack a perceptible hue and saturation.
  • Luminosity: Refers to Value; lighter colors are more luminous than darker colors, but a lighter color is not necessarily more saturated.
  • Primary Color Triad: Red, Yellow, Blue – three colors that cannot be created from mixtures of hue and when mixed in equal or unequal amounts can produce all possible colors.
  • Secondary Color Triad:Orange, Green, Violet – colors created by mixing equal proportions of any two Primary Colors.
    • orange  (mix red + yellow)
    • green   (mix yellow + blue)
    • violet    (mix blue + red)
  • Complementary Colors: Colors opposite on the color wheel
    • red and green
    • yellow and violet
    • blue and orange.



Color Triads (FreeStudy)

  • Using your ruler, lightly draw two intersecting triangles on a piece of 9″x12″ bristol.
  • With your color wheel as a guide, practice mixing and applying colors on a piece of scrap paper, first. Make sure you have achieved the proper hue before applying the paint to paper.
  • Then fill in the tips of each triangle with the primary and secondary triads. Do NOT use pre-mixed paint hues. You must mix secondary triads from the primary triad: Red, Yellow and Blue.
  • Once you have successfully created the two triad relationships (primary and secondary), further develop your composition and create a FreeStudy!
    • Think about what each color might represent: mood, emotion, object.
    • Experiment with mixing all three primary colors together, what color is produced?
    • What happens when you mix two complementary colors together?
  • You may choose to cut out the color swatches and incorporate them with other materials, but make sure your final composition is laid out with a clear connection to the original triads and their placement on the color wheel.
  • References:


  • Finish Color Triad FreeStudy
  • Materials Needed: Same as today!