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A New Year - Each Day an Opportunity to Explore Colour!

color colour mappng life as an artist Jan 01, 2023

January 1, 2023  Happy New Year!

Sometimes the timing of things in my life appears to be perfect.  Just before returning home from Wales on December 22nd, I received notice from Kajabi (my website platform) that the beta version of the new Communities was available to start testing.  Hooray!  Finally I can create and develop a community of artists in a private community of support and encouragement outside of social media.  And, the new version of the community allows for live sessions, posts including multiple images (YES!!!!) and additional private groups for each session of one of my online courses.  I am thrilled.  

However,  it does need to be tested and glitches found and fixed.  I'm hoping that you will be inspired to join the community and to help make this a vibrant space of sharing ideas, experiments, successes, less-than-successful attempts (we often learn the most from those), new ideas on how you can use colour mapping in your own creative process, questions, answers, links to other inspiring artists ... and on and on and on.

I'm kicking off the Colour Mapping Community with it's first Challenge.  All who complete the challenge (the video above) will receive free access to my first online Colour Mapping Mini Course that I will publish on Skillshare on January 20, 2023. Eventually, I will complete and publish the more extensive Colour Mapping Workshop here on my website.

You may join the Colour Mapping Community by clicking on this link:  Join our Colour Mapping Community

What is Colour Mapping?

Colour Mapping can be done using any medium you choose to use.

Colour Mapping is a method for observing and making note of the characteristics of colors you observe both in the Real World and in your imagination.  Anything and everything cam be colour mapped.  I have made Colour Mapping a practice, something I do on a regular basis, in the same way that contour drawing is, for me, a practice.  Contour drawing almost daily, has helped me to see more acutely and to draw more masterfully.  Colour Mapping is helping me to  observe new colour characteristics and combinations of colours that previously escaped my notice.  My ability to mix a colour intentionally improves greatly when the characteristics of a colour are observed and understood.

I refer to my Colour Mapping as a practice rather than an exercise because it is something I have incorporated into my creative process with joy.  It is not a task or an exercise that is preparing me to be an artist.  It is a part of my life that defines me as an artist.  It is one of the tools that I am keeping well-honed so that I might discover and develop more aspects of my unique Colour Voice.  Very artist has a unique Colour Voice that can be discovered and nurtured through Colour Mapping.

Colour Mapping is relatively new to me.  The form in which I now use it was introduced to me a little one a year ago through an online course by the artist Tansy Hargan, an artist that was suggested to me by my dear friend and artist, Jill Richards.  The name of the first course I took with Tansy is called Finding Your Colour Voice.

Many artists, especially my students, found it odd that I would take a course about finding my colour voice since I have now been teaching Colour both in the United States, in Wales and online for over a decade.  For me, it was a logical step after having struggled with colour for many decades, finally teaching myself about colour from the science of light and spectrum, and then exploring colour schemes through a daily practice of playing my Colour Scheme Game.  I know a great deal about colour, colour mixing, colour schemes, colour values, colour saturations and even the chemical mysteries of colour pigments from plants.  AND … there is ALWAYS more to learn.  What I didn’t know, and didn’t realize that I didn’t know, was that I had no idea what my unique Colour Voice looked like, sounded like, felt like.  I knew how I responded to other artist’s colour voices … but I didn’t recognize my own colour voice in my own paintings.  Colour Mapping has helped me to find my colour voice and to discover the amazing range of my unique voice.  I now understand why I have saved some pretty horrible paintings from decades ago in spite of having thrown many decent paintings in the dumpster during my annual studio clean-up.  Some of those miserable old paintings showed me a glimpse of my colour voice even though I couldn’t see it or hear it at the time.

The Method:

1. Observe something.

2. Observe the colours 

3. Observe the colours very, very carefully.

4. Observe one colour, isolated from all others.

5. Ask yourself questions:

What is the hue? (Yellow, Yellow Green, Green Yellow, Green, Green Blue, Blue Green, Blue, Blue Violet, Violet Blue, Violet Red, Red Violet, Red, Red Orange, Orange Red, Orange, Orange Yellow, Yellow Orange)

6. Is it a warm version of the hue you have identified or is it a cool version of the hue you have identified? (Warm yellow or cool yellow?)

7. Do you consider it a warm hue or a cool hue? (Where does it lie on a colour wheel?  Is it a variation of red, oranges or yellows? Or is it a variation of greens, blues and violets?

8. Is it a saturated colour? A saturated colour is made up of only one or two primary colours.  A  less saturated colour includes a bit of the third primary colour, therefore neutralizing it to a greater or lesser extent.

9. Using whatever palette of pigments you have chosen to work with, do your best to mix a colour without matches the colour you have carefully observed.  Test your mix on a piece of scrap paper.  When you are satisfied with having matched the observed colour, paint a line of that cooer mix on your colour map.  

10. Observe where on the object the colour begins to change and how do the characteristics change?

11. What is the new colour that you are observing?  Repeat steps 3 through 9 with each new colour you observe.

12. When your observations are as complete as you desire, label your colour map and, if possible, take a photo of your colour map with the object or scene you have observed.


Take your time and enjoy the process.  This is time well invested in your journey toward mastering colour and developing your unique colour voice.



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