Applying Kosvanec's Color Theory
Oct 11, 2017
While my watercolor class is on hiatus, I continue to study watercolor techniques at home. I have found a bounty of wonderful books on watercolor at our local community college library. The one I am currently reading is Transparent Watercolor Wheel by Jim Kosvanec. This is probably the very first book I should have read when I started painting in watercolor because it has all kinds of basic information such as how to select your paper, brushes, and paints; how to extend the life of your paints with various mediums; how to determine the right water-to-paint ratio for a wash; and much more. Most useful of all is the Kosvanec watercolor wheel which shows which colors can be mixed without losing their transparency or richness or turning to mud. Somehow I missed out on a lot of this information despite taking several different watercolor classes over the years. I have wasted a ton of paint and ruined many a painting by combining incompatible colors!
I can look back at the seven sunflower paintings I completed a few months ago and see just where I went wrong in my color mixing. To practice my new color mixing skills, I just finished a half-sheet painting of some sunflowers using almost exclusively the transparent, non-staining colors of aureolin, rose madder genuine, cobalt blue, and viridian. For a little warmer yellow, I also used some new gamboge, a semi-transparent non-staining color. The violets were mixed from rose madder and cobalt blue. Below you can see the initial drawing and masking, the color glazing and negative painting of the leaves, the addition of detail and shadows, and the final painting below. The tricks of color theory have resulted in much cleaner and almost translucent colors in the final painting. Thank you, Jim Kosvanec! I will keep referring to your color chart until I know how to use all the colors in my palette.