Yurmby Wheels

After having read Color and Light by Gurney, I wanted to transfer all that new knowledge from my brain into real-life painting skills. I had a bunch of tubes of paint, both gouache and oil, and no real idea how they interacted. Knowing that it was going to be imperfect, I set out to paint Yurmby wheels for both sets of paint. Ideally, it would give me a rough wheel to work from, and a good idea what pigments I was missing.

I started at handprint.com to determine where my pigments fell in relation to each other. Is viridian bluer than phthalo green, or the other way around? Looking at the pigments on the back of the tubes and comparing them to handprint’s color charts helped with that. I laid out my tubes accordingly (chart printed from handprint.com):



Next I picked the pigments I would use on the wheel. Note that there are a bunch of tubes that fall between these “primaries,” and although I won’t use them on the wheel, it’s good to identify where they would go. Then I mixed all 12 of them together with some white to create a neutral grey for the middle. You could probably do this with a black and white mixture or neutral grey tube paint as well, although tube whites and blacks tend to be on the cool side.

Then I mixed each tube color with varying amounts of the grey to get less and less saturated. Keep in mind that these do not account for variance in chroma or value in the pigments themselves. I intended to keep the value consistent while I varied the chroma, but I’m a complete novice fumbling around and there are materials-based limitations as well. For example, yellow has a much lighter value than purple, yet I’m heading to the same value of grey in the middle. I think I did better with the oil wheel, but still… Let me know if you have better luck with that. The end results:



I did the gouache first, as you can probably tell. I’m pretty sure I put some things in the wrong places (PR83 gouache should probably be next to PR9), and I’m obviously missing some pigments (I have since acquired a tube of magenta gouache). But it taught me a lot, as you can see from the fact that the oil wheel looks much better.

Side note: the cerulean blue oil I was using was pretty horrible and streaky. It’s a Winton student grade tube that’s nearly 10 years old, but it’s always been like that. I went out and bought a new tube of M Graham cerulean blue and it is obviously tons better. Anyone else have that problem with Winton cerulean blue, or did I just get a bad tube?

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