Playing with Color



You will probably enjoy browsing throughout Devin Kleiner’s website, what I would 110_devinkleinersuggest you try doing is a series similar to  the abstracts shown here.  You will learn a surprising amount about color relationships. You will practice the balance of how much water? how much paint?  And you may gain more of an understanding of the power of the white paper.

You may want to divide a sheet of watercolor paper into 8ths and work on them one at a time, or you may want to experiment on different papers.  Have several ready before you start.107_devinkleiner

  • wet the paper, stablize it, and using a 1 inch flat brush and a single color make a 2 inch wide border around the outside
  • repeat with a second one
  • you can vary the color as in the yellow and purple  (see below) or keep it the same as you see in the two red examples
  • choose a second color and…?
    • go all the way around again making the white inside smaller120_devinkleiner
    • place it as a 1-inch width on the inside bottom,
    • place it top and bottom
    • or come up with another thought
  • then what?
    • change the amount of water on the next stroke?
    • add a second researchonrothkoviivioletformal stroke, such as in the yellow and purple bordered ones?
    • charge the rectangle with a third color on one side and a different color on the other side?
  •  be sure and save the white rectangle
  • set these aside and do two more; or three more in a similar pattern
  • and then two more
  • 62_devinkleiner_2Here are two sections of the lead painting. Which colors show off the white best?
  • How about with the purple and yellow one?
  • Which colors catch your attention first?
  • Which ones are supporting and which catch your eye?
  • 62_devinkleiner_2_2You might want to try another pair, one with a warm color as the first framing color and two inside stripes, one a compliment of the first and one hotter than the first.  What happens?
  • What happens when you use a framing dark neutral and then put the four warm colors as the next frame? Or just two vertical stripes.


By now you are probably ready to come up with some experiments of your own.

Have fun. And don’t be surprised you this leads you to a new adventure.



The next time you choose a color for your painting

  • be thinking about the color you put next to it;
  • be thinking of charging the color with another color;
  • be thinking of how you use your dulls and neutrals to show off your brights and the competition between the warms and the cools
  • remember what you are learned about having too much water on your brush, or too little.
  • These exercises can help you make your painting appear fresher and more vibrant.

Enjoy! And thank you Devin.


PS The long break in the Technique Corner was because my husband suffered a stroke in August. It has been an intense time but I am happy to report that he is recovering nicely.

It is nice to have the time to share these thoughts with you. Thank you for your patience. Happy painting.