Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mixing Brown

When I painted this painting of my violin I had to experiment quite a bit to find the correct color of brown. I wanted the painting to be very close - if not exact - to the real color of the wood.

Now I've seen many fun paintings of violins in purple or blue or whatever, but for this piece I wanted the real wood color. Violins come in many shades of brown. For that matter, brown comes in many colors. Is that the right word? (shades?, tints?, hues?) You know... some browns have gold in them, some have red or yellow or blue.

My first try was just to take some burnt umber and lighten it a bit. Yuck. So I tried burnt umber with yellow, burnt sienna with blue, lots of different combinations.

The color combination that I had the most success with in mixing a nice brown - and especially a golden brown like my violin - didn't have anything burnt in it. It was orange and blue! This makes sense since they are across from each other on the color wheel. Another combination across from each other are red and green make a nice dark brown that's almost black. When you combine colors that are across from each other on the wheel you are adding together all the colors. This combining of all the colors makes black or brown.

For my violin I started out with orange right out of the tube (I didn't mix my own orange). I then added different blues and even some purples to create the exact brown of my violin. It's been awhile, so I can't tell you exactly which blues I used in the end. I'm thinking it was phthalo blue and cobalt blue and then some purple and more orange for some of the darker areas.
You'll want to experiment to find which combination works for the particular brown you are trying to achieve, but beginning with colors across from each other on the color wheel will give you a great beginning place.
Here is the painting hanging in my office over an antique pump organ.

1 comment:

Jordanka Yaretz said...

You pulled it off beautifuly. This painting reminds me of one of the old masters work.