Master the Mystery of Color

Color was my weakest skill until I turned practice into play by inventing a game.


In 2008 the economy slumped. Paintings stopped selling. It was a perfect time to learn a new skill

For three years, I played the game each morning. First I created a closed contour drawing of whatever was in front of me; a coffee cup, plant, toy, tool, cluttered closet or family treasures.  A closed contour drawing is one in which each shape is separate from the others like in a coloring book; you don’t have to decide where to stop the color when using a closed contour drawing, unlike Matisse’s exquisite drawings of figures drawn with lines that stop before touching another line. 

The drawing may be extremely simple. Remember that the goal is to discover more about color. Don't worry about composition. When you play the game daily, you'll find yourself making compositional choices automatically.  Not only will your use of color improve, your design skills will improve, too.  You'll become aware of the strength of using color as value, and color to create mood as well as strong design.

The Color Scheme Game is both fun and challenging whether you are a beginner or have been painting for decades.  The concept is simple.  To determine a color palette either plein air or in the studio, you use the random throw of a twelve-sided die (or two six-sided dice) to choose the color scheme for you. Use the appropriate template to view your color scheme options. Throw the die again to see which color MUST be included in the option.  I use watercolor, but any medium may be used, quilters use fabrics, photographers search the world around them. I've taught the Color Scheme Game workshop twice without any painters present, only fiber artists and photographers!

I recommend using the hues at full intensity, not altering the value by adding water or white pigment.  You will learn a great deal about choosing color for its value as well as its hue. High key hues (yellow, yellow-green, yellow-orange) are always light values.  As soon as you darken a yellow by adding another pigment, it quickly becomes green or orange and is no longer yellow. The mid-value hues are much more difficult for the untrained eye. You will achieve greater color impact in your drawings and paintings when you use pure, clean color.  Harmony of color is easily achieved when using a limited palette.  The color wheels you will create when playing this game are made using only three pigments: one red, one yellow, one blue.  By switching out the red, blue and yellow (and making note of the pigments you are using) you learn the characteristics of each pigment and realize that it is more important to know where that pigment falls on the color wheel than it is to know the name of that pigment; no need to memorize magic formulas learned from books or workshops!  You will mix colors that work together regardless of whether you paint abstractly or representationally.  Use the game to learn about color, to push the boundaries of color schemes you have already been using or to try a totally different approach to your use of color.

I'm thrilled that The Color Scheme Game is now online course in addition to being a three-day, Live workshop!  I love that the game is available to everyone around the world, day and night, weekends and weekdays.  My dream has now come true.

Not only can artists learn about color schemes at their own pace, they can learn far more about color, design, drawing and techniques than I was ever able to cram into a three or four day workshop.

The online courses are available on a separate website from my gallery website (  There are currently two color courses and one drawing course available ... many more to come.  This is a great way to pass on tips, tools and techniques that have served me well over the decades and I love sharing what I've learned with all who desire to see the world through fresh eyes on a daily basis.

Click here to view current online courses. 

Extra exercises and bonus challenges provide more flexibility in how you play the game and make it suitable for artists at all levels of experience. 

"Chris, I truly can't thank you enough for this challenging and chock full class that has changed my life. I am still absorbing several of the lessons. I continue to take small bites and chew thoroughly. I have enough learning to last me a few years! And I will love every minute of it." ... Lorna (Mendocino County, California)

To view examples of Color Scheme Game sketches, click the links below: Scroll down through the albums until you come to the albums titled Color Scheme #... There are twelve albums, one for each color scheme.

 For more info: The Mysterious World of Color Combinations

Exploring Color Schemes

The more you play, the more you learn!

Any comments or questions?


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