When I was learning to oil paint I didn't know what colors to use. So I just used the colors the instructor suggested.
About thirty years ago, one of my Christmas presents was a watercolor calendar. Up until then my main painting medium was oils.
The watercolor paintings were so intriguing and I wanted to try them. So, I jumped in full-force!
So I got a palette that was round like the color wheel. It held thirty eight colors.
Studying the work of professional artists and reading everything I could get my hands on about color, gave me some revelations.
Using too many different colors in one painting can cause confusion. All the variations of color don't give the eyes a place to rest.
Even if all the colors are all so pretty, they don't all work well together in one painting.
The viewer's eyes jump from one color to another in a disconcerting manner. Fewer colors in one painting create color harmony.
This is one of the way to Paint Good Art.
I came up with a plan ---
Initially we need to have a selection of colors on our palette. The recommendation is for beginners to start painting with a limited palette of only the primary colors.
That way we get used to the colors and how to mix any additional colors. Color mixing is easier with a warm and cool version of each primary color. That is called a double primary palette.
When I started painting I really didn't even know about the primary colors. All the beautiful colors at the paint store were so mesmerizing. I just bought everything that caught my eye.
If there was an artist's work that I admired, I would get their recommended colors. Looking back a lots of money was wasted, but it was all part of learning.
Hopefully, you can bypass a lot of these mistakes by gleaning from my knowledge.
First, make a color wheel.
Poster board or any heavy type of paper will work fine for making a color wheel.
Paint the colors you use the most on the color wheel.
There are twelve colors on the color wheel, a warm and cool version of each of the six basic rainbow colors.
There was still a debate in my mind about exactly which colors to use. The colors out in the middle of the wheel were some of the alternate colors still on my palette.
This is the color wheel I made over thirty years ago. It's a little worn, but I still use it today for choosing the colors for my watercolor and oil paintings.
Cut out color scheme templates the same size as the color wheel.
Professional artists often use these color schemes.
These are the templates I cut out of newsprint years ago. Today I still use these same templates to choose the paint colors for each individual painting.
Decide on the main color for the focal point of your proposed painting.
A scheme with complimentary colors will make it easy to mix neutral, dark colors for the painting. They will always harmonize with the rest of the painting.
Always mix black, brown or grey from your selected 3-4 colors. Save some money and don't buy these colors.
After the color scheme is selected, I paper clip it to my color wheel. Only my selected three or four colors will show.
I keep the selection in front of me while I'm painting. Then I am not tempted to use all the other colors from my palette.
A limited number of colors in each painting will create cohesiveness and color harmony in the painting.
Today I still use the same color wheel and templates to choose the colors for my paintings.
If it works for me, it will work for you!