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Color Fundamentals

Lesson 15 of 22

Demo: Establish Color Ground

Mary Jane Begin

Color Fundamentals

Mary Jane Begin

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Lesson Info

15. Demo: Establish Color Ground

Lesson Info

Demo: Establish Color Ground

So let's try this. The other thing I just want to say is just, you can be fearless about it. If you make a mistake, or it starts to look yucky, you can always bury it, or do a new painting, or work with, just work with what happened. And I think all these things I'm talking about are helping you to control some of the issues that can be confounding, but in addition to that, it's art it should be fun, it should be intuitive. Let's just see, let's just take the wild ride with this thing and see what happens. I've done this scene a million times, I don't know exactly what's going to happen right now. I'm hoping it all works out but there's always some question mark when you're painting or you're drawing with traditional materials because it's not as controllable as digital. I think that's why I like it too. It's a little less controlled. But look at that color. This I won't be able to draw on it until it's dry. So I'm just going to see how vibrant this is. I may not even use that turquois...

e, I don't know. Let me just see how this looks. Because I want there to be a lot of energy in this green, I want it to be super punchy. Is it nice and vibrant? I can see on the screen it does look nice a vibrant. Now if I bring that turquoise blue, it might neutralize that color I don't know. It was pretty interesting though. You just let us know when you are actually ready for the hair dryer. In any minute now because I'm going to blow this dry. And I won't be able to talk through it because you won't hear me. But I'm stroking it all in the same direction as well. Let me just do that one edge and I might go back and put a little more of the green. What I'm trying to do is create kind of intense green that will really react to the colors on top of it. If it's too pale, actually I do need something. I'd like to do a little tester piece of paper, it could be watercolor paper, it could be piece of white paper, anything, but I want to just do a little bit of a test to make sure. There are a couple things I just want to show as this is drying, I can show it too. So as it's still wet you can go back and forth with your color, but once it starts to really dry you don't want to go back and do watercolor because it picks up and it makes edges. And if you're trying to create a smooth surface, that won't be so good. Also remember to clean your brushes and when the water gets the color of coffee, change it. And this is will get there sooner than you think. So I'm cleaning my brushes. The best kind of brushes to use and they're not that expensive are a sable, synthetic blend. I think U trekked makes one, but you can order them online, but these brushes are, not the square tipped brush, but some of the other brushes I'll hold up my brushes now. This is a large round tip. And this a synthetic sable blend. This is a slightly smaller, I like different sizes, synthetic sable blend. This is the tiniest one which is for detail, same thing. This is a Windsor Newton brush, and this is Blick, which is another art company. So it doesn't matter the brand, just if you can use something that has sable in it, it's a little more expensive than pure synthetic, but what's great is it holds a lot of liquid. If you're painting this is kind of nice thing. Okay, so if we have the blow dryer- We have that extra paper there for you too. Oh fabulous, okay. So this is great, let's see. So put that right here for now. I don't know if I can paint and blow dry at the same time, but I'm going to try. The only thing is that I'm going to tape this paper down because it's going to go flying if I don't, and that won't be very useful. So I'm just going to tape this whole patch right here. And just a random question, once you're done and you've stapled down the other paper, how do you get it out again? That's a good question. You pull the tape off when you're finished, all the tape. And then I will measure out my edge of my paper and I'll cut it with an exacto knife, and a sharp one be careful, use a ruler, so you're not cutting yourself. And that just lifts the paper right off. Which is really easy. That was from Brienne and Pearson. The other thing I want to show, I'm going to try and do it while I'm blowing it dry, I won't talk it through, but I'm going to show and actually if we could do clean water soon that would be great, so I don't start neutralizing my other colors with the bucket's really green. I'm going to show the difference between the purple made with the cobalt blue and that beautiful [] Rose and cadmium red, and cobalt. And you'll just get to see the difference but I'll do it without talking, while I blow dry. All right. We might want to move this for now because it will actually we'll put it right- Okay so I'll blow dry but just if we can see over this spot over here, I'll show you what happens with those two different reds with the same blue and how the color is really different. One from the other.

Class Description

This class will give you an overview of color principles and demonstrate how to apply them. Instructor Mary Jane Begin is an award-winning illustrator and author of children’s picture books, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate and professor in the Illustration Department. 

In this class she covers: 
  • The elements of color, including value, temperature, saturation, hierarchy, complements, light, harmony, and contrast 
  • The use of color complements in image making 
  • The relationship of color to the medium and expression 

Through a series of demonstrations, you’ll learn how to work with color and ultimately make better color decisions. This class covers color theory foundations that applies to all image making, in design, art, illustration, photography, and beyond.


Anna Kotzè

I really liked the informal demonstrations and I also liked the way she set out her pallet with warm and cold colors. This was not only an informative class but inspiring. The casual and relaxed working style, encourage playfulness. Thank you for an awesome class.


I’ve had foundations in many of the color instruction that was presented here so the information was a very good revisit. I also think it was explained better in this presentation than in the other training I’ve had. I enjoyed listening to the lecture, thankfully they weren’t drawn out until you want to stop listening. The demonstration was best after we moved off the charcoal drawing (although that was interesting to watch) because using the paints really brought home to me the application some of the lessons learned. I wish that part would have been more robust so that all of the elements in the lecture could have been directly called out in the demonstration. The instructor was most effective when not trying to multitask too much. Overall, I recommend this course.

Robin B.

I had previously learned basic color theory, but this instructor took my knowledge beyond with layered instruction about value-contrast-complements-hierarchy, etc., and she does it in such a fun way with her own examples of work and great stories! I like her poise and confidence and think this series is a terrific value.