We are familiar with the traditional Triadic color wheel, with the blocks of colors and all the arrows to help you set up color schemes, tints and shades, etc.  the color wheel concept was invented by Sir Issac Newton in 1666 and the color wheel was printed 100 years later. It is something that I have alway kept close by when painting.

     However,  I have recently discovered another type of color wheel that is much more accurate and can make our paintings sing with color!  It is called the MUNSELL color wheel. Created by Albert Munsell in 1898, it is actually a color sphere that simultaneously shows all the properties of color: value (light/dark), hue (especially warm'cool), and intensity (bright/dull). Looking totally different from the Triadic one, it requires a little learning in how to use it, but we had to learn the Triadic wheel also.

     I learned about the Munsel wheel while reading a book called "COLOR HARMONY In Your Paintings" written by Margaret Kessler.  It is a little deep and requires some study, but is well worth the effort.  After learning to use the Munsell color wheel and applying the principles, our paintings will sing and take a huge leap forward in quality!  I highly recommend adding this book to your library.  Another book that I highly recommend is by Betty Edwards "COLOR: A Course in Mastering The Art of Mixing Colors".  This book is easier to understand. She doesn't have as many photos to guide us, but her explanations are more thorough and she teaches step-by-step. If you really want to learn the art of mixing colors to get exactly what you want, this is the book for you. Betty Edwards is the author of "The New Drawing on The Right Side of The Brain".  She strongly suggests that you learn to draw first, then color theory, and only then painting.  It is logical if you've never painted before or in art school.

     Below I have photos of the two color wheels.  Please, take the time to get to know the MUNSELL wheel.  If you're serious about your art, you'll be glad you did!

The Triadic Color Wheel we've all seen and used

The MUNSELL Color Wheel

  This is the "overlay" for the MUNSELL wheel.  The three openings across the bottom  represent the Complimentary Color and the two "Discord" colors. (Expained in the book "Color Harmony") If you purchase the book ($24.95 Amazon) you can cut these pages out and mount on stiff cardboard, etc.  I was able to find a similar chart on Amazon, it's not exactly the same as the MUNSELL wheel, but close.  It's called the "COLOR HARMONY WHEEL". (19.95)


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