Colour theory often baffled me in the past because of its complexity. There were some things about it I just didn’t ‘get’. But every art and craft course I did had an element of colour theory at some point.

Some teachers (especially the watercolour/botanical enthusiasts) where very strong on the idea that you had to follow ‘rules’. Rules that for me as a student, I struggled to follow. I’ve since learned that to be ‘creative’, you have to follow your own rules.

This lead me to read and research this topic (maybe more than was necessary), until I thought I understood. More recently, I’ve created a series of short videos that focus on different colours.

When artists talk about colour theory, colours like brown, grey, black and white aren’t mentioned. Why? Are black and white not colours?

In simple terms, black and white aren’t colours, they’re shades. They are colours in the sense that you can buy them as ready-mixed tubes of paint, coloured paper or embroidery thread. But this is where colour theory gets confusing as paint is very different to ‘light’.

Where does this leave us when we’re talking about paint? Mixing all the colours of paint together won’t give you white (I’ve tried it!). It will most likely be a type of dark brown.

You can add black paint to darken a tone and white paint to lighten it. You won’t see these colours on a colour wheel though. It’s best to see them as ways of creating tone and shade (although you can create darker tones without black, but that’s a story for another time).

What are your thoughts on this? Watch the video and let me know in the comments: ‘Are black and white colours?’

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