January 10, 2012

Jeanne Dobie's Book About Color

I have just finished Jeanne Dobie’s book “Making Color Sing”, and  made a lot of notes. Some her ideas are clear to me and experienced already, other (the ones about color composition, dynamic shapes arrangement, structure of values, relationships in painting, midtones and patterns) need to be thought about and practiced further.

Overall I can say that the book gives a lot of advice about color, especially in watercolor. Very well written (I mean short and clear recommendations, illustrated with color schemes and her amazing, just amazing paintings). Her motto is “Think and plan, then paint” (this is confusing, as I prefer "to start the battle" first))..

Further I post some of my notes/color demos based on her book.

1. Palette.

2. Mixing grays.

Equal amount of 3 primaries gives dull neutral. Color, surrounded by this neutral when added it’s compliment makes color sing.

3. The colors in mixture should have same temperature, otherwise the mixture will be dull.

4. Greens.
Mix yellow with green, then add some red.

5. Mixing cool and warm gives air to the painting.

6. Darks.

7. When color is surrounded by its compliment with different temperature and adjusted value, it starts singing.

8. Whites.

9. Glazes. The art of non-mixing. Glazes can be used as subject, around subject (complement, to make subject sing), over subject (compliment, to make dull color interesting), glazing shadows.


  1. This is the first watercolor book I ever bought and I still refer to it. It has very good advice on color and design.

  2. Thanks for sharing the notes Irina, it is going to be helpful for me since I just opened my water color tubes.

  3. I am like you Irina, I start the' battle ' immediately, don't plan anything, but I am realizing that sometimes a bit of thinking first would save a lot of thrown out works. So maybe a bit of thinking first could be a new years promise....at least for me. Wish you a great day.

  4. I am the same, just starting the battle. :)
    Interesting information, the book is on my wishlist. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank you, girls!
    My impression about this book is that it helps to study technique. But I'm afraid that I can lose my freedom and creativity if I start thinking and planning first. On the other side, I agree with Jane, when you become profi, it decreases number of damaged works. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Time and experience will show.


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