Learning Curve #7 – The Secret to Colour

In June 2012 I attempted to give my art education a boost by attending a three day course titled ‘An introduction to the creative process’, lead by insanely-talented landscape artist and all-round nice guy, Chili Thom. After you’ve read this please visit Chili Thom’s website here, his use of colour is mindblowing!

More questions than answers

We covered everything from composition to colour theory, and more than anything this course was a stiff reminder of how much I have to learn, and have to teach myself about art. But even with this overwhelming feeling, I was more excited about the possibilities of my artwork than ever before. I discovered I actually wasn’t that bad at painting and I surprisingly had what some described as ‘a natural talent’ for art. Which left me with a huge smile in my soul.

Re-purposing new skills

Right after the course I continued to paint, but found that I couldn’t quite command the paint brush as well as I could the ink quill and nibs that I was more accustomed to from my pointillism projects before the course. So I did what I am a huge fan off and cross-pollinated a new skill and and old skill – I tried applying the acrylic pain as if it was India Ink. I added (through various failed attempts) water to the acrylic paint until I got a similar a consistency to India Ink and the image above is what I created. It was my first attempt at a piece of art using some of the colour techniques taught to me by Chili Thom.

The secret to unified colours – control colours

If there was only one piece of knowledge I could take away from the course, it would be how to use control colours. They can rescue any mismatched pallet and turn it in to a cohesive collection of colours. A control colour is one single colour that is uniformly applied to every colour in your pallet to bring then all together.

For instance:

You have four unrelated colours in your painting = turquoise, green, violet and yellow

Take one of those colours (usually the lightest one) and add a tiny speck of it to each other colour

E.g. Add a tiny speck of yellow to each turquoise, green and violet.


The trick with using a control colour is not to add too much. Do not add so much that it changes the colour of the paint that you’re adding it to. Add just enough that your eye notices that each of the originally unrelated colours now contains one unifying colour.

I’m trying to stop my posts getting too long, so I’ll continue colour theory and tips like control colours in more detail in future posts, soon. Something you’re itching to know about? Please suggest any art topics in the comments box below and I’ll write a post on it.


One thought on “Learning Curve #7 – The Secret to Colour

  1. Pingback: Learning Curve #7 – A wash of colour « Collective Conscious Art

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