Scheming is a fun little word. The dictionary definition says “given to or involved in making secret and underhanded plans” and lists lots of sneaky synonyms, such as cunning, crafty, calculating, devious, conniving…and you get the idea.  Scheming is not a good thing.

Unless you’re talking about art, and here it’s fine to do a little scheming with colors. In fact, color theory will teach you lots of different color schemes.

I spent my morning yesterday playing around with a few different schemes. I grabbed my acrylics for a little practice and worked a lot on creating value in each different “mini-painting”. Of course, I had to base this 4-part painting on my favorite complementary colors of blue and orange.


I still have a long way to go on learning how to handle acrylics, and I don’t know what happened to those shadows! Usually I do a fairly good job of handling shadowed areas, but these were all awful.

The first “mini” is, obviously, a monochromatic scheme, using tints and shades of orange. To the right, the second “mini” is an analogous scheme with green, blue green, blue, and blue violet. The third is a split complementary — blue, yellow orange, and red orange — and finally, the fourth illustrates a basic complementary scheme with blue and orange.

Note: My scanner cut off a bit of the right hand side of the page. Actually all four areas are the same size, and the pears aren’t cut off on the original canvas.

It was definitely an enjoyable experience even though I’m not too happy with the results. Every time I use acrylics, of course, I learn a little more. Maybe I’ll get the hang of the medium yet.

As far as the color schemes go, I think my favorite is the analogous — even though that was the worst painting. I loved the colors but had problems mixing them and keeping my brush clean.

I also like the monochromatic painting. Since it was the first one I did and it didn’t involve a lot of color mixing, I think the values came out best on it. Just don’t look at the shadow.

Actually, I like each of the different color schemes. Doing these studies also helped me see again how important values are in painting. I hope I can carry what I learned today forward and apply it to other pieces by doing a little crafty, devious, underhanded planning in advance, and then creating a good color scheme for the scene I’m painting.

Do you make deliberate color scheme choices in your art? Or do you just create a color scheme as you go? Which color schemes do you most enjoy using?


    1. Thanks, Jodi. Color theory gets so complicated! This was a good way to break it down and look at a few basics. I really want to put more thought into colors when I paint now.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love your colour studies and think you did a great job. I’m sure you could return to these and finesse them to get rid of the elements that annoy you. One of the great things about acrylic is it can cover over mistakes. I tend to plump for analogous or monochromatic schemes but I’m trying to push myself to use different colour scheme palettes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Since these are just color practices, I won’t go back to do any tweaking, but hopefully what I learned from doing these will help me improve on my next acrylic painting attempt. I’ve never given a lot of thought to color schemes while painting. That’s something I want to do more now.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice post Judith, doing these types of studies id for me a bit boring but I have forced myself to do it and found the experience really comes back to help in later paintings. There is a very instructive exercise Richard Schmid gives to learn your colors and how to mix them. It is laborious but many swear by it. You basically make color charts, using combinations of every color on your palette, mixed systematically with varying amounts of white. It is worth googling it. Look for ‘richard schmid color charts’, you may like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I will look it up. I’ve done color wheels, but there are so many possibilities in watercolor beyond the “basics” that color mixing exercises like that would probably be very helpful. I should do more of them. 🙂 And then, there’s acrylics, and I’m just beginning to study colors in that medium.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sometimes when we attach the word “exercise” we expect it to be boring or dull…but playing with colors can really be fun. 🙂 I need to do it more.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Fix the crop, print it out and sell it as a poster!

    I try to limit my color palette, but still, I always stick to a specific color scheme. I do colored roughs on paper before doing a painting. It helps keep my brain from adding colors willy-nilly.

    Liked by 1 person

I'd Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s