Best Medium to learn Color Theory

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  1. #1
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    Best Medium to learn Color Theory

    Art is simply a hobby of mine, and for the last half-year, I've mostly done figure-drawing (Graphite). But, I would like to experiment with using colors (Just purchased Color and Light)... but not sure what medium would be best.

    The medium can't be toxic (Working in a small non-ventilated area) and I would prefer it to be inexpensive. Furthermore, something I could work with quickly... possibly even with life drawing... would be awesome.

    Color pencils seem fairly unpopular on this site. They are cheap, but difficult to work with. And while they can be "quick" to work with... creating anything realistic requires lots of layers... which translates into a slow/cumbersome medium.

    Gouache and watercolors seem to be the most popular. I am leaning towards gouache simply because they can be opaque. Although, it seems like many people combine the mediums... so I may experiment with both. Using ink with gouache/watercolors may be something I would like to explore... but using ink solely for color theory seems a bit absurd.

    Acrylics is another medium which I have lots of experience with from painting/playing warhammer (a very masculine alpha male game that only really muscular awesome elite members of society play). Although, I ended up buying new brushes each month because the paint would get to the top, dry, and my attempts to "remove" it always ended up with me bending/removing the bristles. So, I am not sure if acrylics are "tough" on brushes or I simply never learned how to properly take care of brushes.

    Oil paints I am leaning away from simply because of the expensive.




    If there is a certain medium you think I should explore, please tell me what materials I should consider buying. I really don't want to "buy everything that catches my eye" and end up with a bookshelf of art supplies I don't use. If I can plan what I need, and then figure out how to combine all the paints/supplies in one-nice carrying case (for figure/life drawings... if possible)... I would be ecstatic. Furthermore, if there are other books I should check out, please tell me.


    Thanks =)

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  3. #2
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    From someone who uses mostly watercolour/gouache, oil is probably the best. The problem with watercolour is that you don't really premix you're colours. It's based on using the white of the paper instead of solid colour and mixing white. Gouache is not horrible, but there is a shift when it dries, acrylic does the same to a lesser degree. But acrylic would not be too bad a choice if you can't afford the oil.

    Acrylic is hard on brushes, but you can make sure too keep washing them before the paint dries, also don't let the paint go all the way to the ferrule(metal part).

    Sorry if this reply is rambley(I'm half-sleeping)

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  4. #3
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    Digital would actually be the best medium for the pure study of colour theory.

    However, I presume you are only wanting to work with physical mediums. My suggestion would be to study with the medium you want to use in the long run.
    There's not much point in studying with acrylics if you actually want to use watercolour.

    Also note that oil is generally regarded as the least portable medium.

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  5. #4
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    i had the same warhammer brushes for years. just wash them more often.

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  6. #5
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    You should learn color theory in the medium you intend to use the most.

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  7. #6
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    Open acrylics seem to be fairly interesting. The extended drying time makes it more like oil, without the toxic fumes.

    One thing that I noticed is all the open acrylics paints have a MSDS sheet with them. First, I was always under the impression that acrylic paints were non-toxic as long as you didn't eat them.

    Do open acrylics produce fumes? Need to worry about toxicity through skin absorption?

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  8. #7
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    How about color conte crayons or pastels?

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  9. #8
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    I really want to use a painting medium.

    Plus I hate pastel... something about the feel of using them I don't care for.

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  10. #9
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    Paints are generally only toxic because of the pigments that are used, not the binding agent.

    So yes, some acrylic paints will be toxic. Same thing with watercolor/gouache.
    Cadmiums, cobalts, etc.

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  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Misplacedhippos View Post
    Paints are generally only toxic because of the pigments that are used, not the binding agent.

    So yes, some acrylic paints will be toxic. Same thing with watercolor/gouache.
    Cadmiums, cobalts, etc.
    I assume if you don't bathe/eat/spray your paints... you are fine.

    I just need something that I can work with in a closed area.

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  12. #11
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    cheap paint won't be toxic. won't get real cadmium though.

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  13. #12
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    Cheap paint also isn't any more economical because it has more filler.

    You will be fine, like you said.

    Apparently my fingers are getting sensitive to cobalt based paints because I use them to lift paint sometimes, bad habit, use a cloth or something.

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  14. #13
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    After a lot of reading, I think I am going to focus on acrylics. For one, I like the medium and have experience with it. My biggest concern is the quick drying time and not being able to blend colors as well as in oils... but with some of the new open acrylics, I see this as less of a problem. As far as the color-change between application and drying, I've been aware of this "issue" and it never seemed that significant to me (You simply learn to anticipate how the colors will change and matching colors isn't difficult). Plus, acrylics are less expensive than oils.

    Oil is probably a medium I will try in the future, but not something I want to work with in a room with poor ventilation. Oil does have better blending and the ability to produce vibrant colors (which I like), but I suspect I could produce similar results with acrylics and some hard-work.

    Watercolors is something I will experiment with, simply because it is cheap... although I am not a huge fan of the typical watercolor paintings many people tend to create.



    The other thing I've been looking into is an easel. I want something sturdy and that can fold back so I can work on a horizontal surface. One thing that peaked my interest is the windmill rotating easel. But, it can only mount a stretched canvas (the brackets attach to the frame).

    Can you buy a drawing board that is shaped like a stretched canvas (In other words, a wooden board on a frame). I suppose that wouldn't be difficult to make... just need to use a board that is larger than the frame so you can use paper clips to mount paper (otherwise, the board and the frame would be too thick for holding with paper clips).


    Sorry for all the questions. =p

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  15. #14
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    I'd say gouache is the best. But it can be very cumbersome. The common mistake for starting painters is to paint on a really large canvas, and many instructors make their students paint on large canvases. If you want to study composition and color, you can just paint small (4 by 6 inches or smaller) thumbnail paintings everyday. Gouache is the best medium to paint small.

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