Category Archives: Color

Warm and Cool, Part 4

This will be the last of my discussions of warm and cool colors… partially because I ran out of color combinations, and partially because I didn’t learn all that much. But I had to finish the project.

Here are parts 1, 2, and 3.

Purple is today’s mix of choice. Warm red and warm blue (upper left) make a nice warm purple… on the brown side. Cool red and cool blue (upper right) make a cooler, more traditional purple color. Makes sense, right?

But cool red and warm blue (lower right) make a quite vibrant purple. I’m really not sure why, except that warm red is so vibrant on its own. This whole thing makes me wonder if maybe I needed to pick my warm and cool pigments so that they were as equal as possible… But then again, cool red and warm blue (lower right) make a horrible muddy brown, as expected. The dichotomy lends weight to the theory that my single pigment tubes may not, indeed, be only one pigment. Hmm.

The whole thing taught me only ONE thing: premix your color and test it first, because you never know exactly what you’re going to get.

p.s. football started. GO BEARS!

Warm and Cool – Part 3

To continue our discussion of warm and cool colors, I present: Green. For those interested, here are Parts 1 and 2.

Warm and Cool 3

This one gave some interesting results. The warm blue and warm yellow provided a nice, clear, warm green. It looks like it’d be good for grass that needs watering (a common sight in Atlanta recently). However, the cool blue and cool yellow gave me a brownish mess. Since the cool blue and warm yellow gave a similar shade of mud, I’m guessing it’s the fault of the common element, ultramarine blue, although I’m not sure why. Any suggestions? I’ve only mixed it with browns (to make dark, blackish colors) and reds to make purples.

The warm blue and cool yellow created a surprisingly pleasant mix. It reminds me of what grass is supposed to look like. I’ll actually get to see some of it during my road trip to Iowa next week. Which, by the way, is the reason I won’t be posting for the next week and a half.

In conclusion, I still have no idea what I’m doing with color mixing, and nothing consistent has come out of my experiments yet. Next installation: purple in all its glorious mystery.

Warm and Cool – Part 2

First, happy Independence Day! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. My country isn’t perfect, but I sure am glad to live here and be able to paint cephalopods in my free time. Speaking of which, there’s new content up at

Today I’ll explore more warm and cool colors. See this post for the introduction to the experiment. I will attempt to draw conclusions. You are welcome to chime in.

Here’s my first experiment: red and yellow together. Also known as orange: the color of construction, and when put next to navy blue, the colors of the Chicago Bears. GO BEARS! Ahem.

Warm and cool 2

On the left, I mixed oranges with “like” primaries – that is, I mixed warms with warms and cools with cools. On the right, I combined warms and cools.

The orange in the upper left corner is the most vibrant. It’s certainly a warm orange, and has the most life to it. If I wanted to paint a vibrant giant pacific octopus, I’d use that combination.

The orange at the lower left is more muted. It’s definitely more muddy and cool than the warm/warm orange. I think there are two reasons for that: first, orange is generally a warm color, so making a cool orange is a bit difficult. Second, the cool red I used has a lot of blue in it (you know, its being “cadmium red purple” and all) and that means there were really three primaries in the mix, making it more brown and muddy.

The orange on the lower right is an interesting one. It’s fairly vibrant and light; I think it is the most successful cool orange I mixed. Using the warm red instead of the cool one really gets rid of the brown look. It’s sort of pastel orange, almost peachy, and I like it.

The orange in the upper right is the muddiest of all. I think this is because it mixes warm and cool AND it includes all three primaries. But it’s orange mud, for sure. In fact, if it ever rains again in Georgia, this is will be the color of my yard.

In conclusion, the warm/warm mix created the most vibrant orange, and the warm yellow/cool red created the muddiest orange. But the most important conclusion is that you should do your own color tests, because I still have no idea what I’m doing. Check back after a few more posts.


I’ll get back to my color project in a jiffy. But first, a quick convention report. Anthrocon was wonderful, and I sold enough t-shirts, prints, originals, and commissions that I just might break even. The best part was the camaraderie and new beers. And also, coming home to this in my backyard:



Also, note all those “cool” colors.

Warm and Cool – Part 1

Since I’m off to a convention and have been so incredibly busy, I decided to take this opportunity to start a blogging project. O_o

I’ve wanted to do this experiment for a while now. I heard theories about warm and cool colors, how they relate, how to mix them, what to use them for, and what to avoid. I figure it’s all good advice, but there’s nothing like finding out for yourself.

I have warmer and cooler versions of the primaries in my gouache palette. I generally choose the tint that suits the painting better. Should it be more scientific than that? I know warm and cool are relative terms; putting a cool red next to a cool purple might make the red look warmer. But in general, I can pick out which tubes are warm and which are cool.


My attempts to color-correct the scan didn’t go so well… but I think you get the idea. The warm colors are Flame Red (PR170), Permanent Yellow (PY1), and Prussian Blue (PB27). The cool colors are Cadmium Red Purple (PR108), Lemon Yellow (PY3), and Ultramarine Blue (PB29).

During the next few weeks, I’ll show you my experiments with warm and cool primaries. I hope to learn a lot and share it all with you. I just might end up making lots of different shades of “mud,” but even that can be useful… especially if you’re painting dirt.

Science and Art

I recently stumbled upon an interesting art-related article that I want to share it with you. There are climate change scientists out there searching old paintings for sunsets with vivid colors. They’re trying to pinpoint climate-changing events, like volcanic eruptions, through the painters’ depiction of sunsets (which become much more vivid after large eruptions due to the particles in the air).

It’s a fascinating project, but it’s also very much like scientists to try to objectify something like art. How do they determine whether the artist’s depiction is accurate? I am working on a sunset painting right now, and completely invented the colors and clouds. I hope nobody tries to decipher anything scientific from it. We’re artists, dagnabit… we paint things we see in our heads!


This article interests me for several reasons. First, I’m a nerdy engineer by trade, and science fascinates me. Second, I love nature – both being in it and painting it. An article that discusses both makes me happy. Third, I’m not sure if most artists have a “grand vision,” but I do, and it involves painting nature and technology together. I have many ideas planned out, and I hate to admit it, but the paintings I do now feel like practice for that big, important vision.

Let me know what you think of the article. Also, tell me if you artists have a “grand vision,” and what it’s all about! What motivates you?


Handprint by Meg Lyman

6×6″ gouache on Gessobord

This painting was done without brushes. The only tools were my hands. That’s one of the beauties of gouache – most colors are non-toxic and don’t have anything nasty in them, so you can fingerpaint! Maybe not a masterpiece, but really fun to do.

More on the WIP this weekend.

Art Self Today

Cephalicide by Meg Lyman

Mixed Media (colored pencil, gouache, & ink) on toned paper – 8×10″

$50 – e-mail to buy

Being tagged got me thinking. I told you 7 things about me you probably didn’t know, but they’re random things and not necessarily related to art. Being able to lick my nose is cool, but it has no useful application in art. Or anything else, really. So I will share with you my short “art self” story, both to potentially help others, and to record it for myself, so that in a year I can read this and see how much more successful I became. Or how badly I tanked. You never can tell.

Quick history: I’ve drawn things forever. Don’t we all, as children? But some people stop; I never did. I took a few classes in high school and college, sticking to pencils and pursuing a totally unrelated career. After graduating and working for a while, I took a few community classes. The end.

Oh wait… that’s just the beginning! About a year ago, I saw some art that made me decide to abandon my fear of color and start painting. I started with single-hue paintings, using my experience with value and sticking to one color. Ever since, I’ve been expanding my boundaries and exploring color. The more color I do, the more I love it.

I still do pencil work and enjoy it. I am working on pencil illustrations for a couple RPG books, and trying to push my values even further.

I still feel like I’m experimenting with color, but I’m more confident now than I was a year ago, both with color itself and with the tools. I’ve dabbled in digital art and got paid to design two website logos. I’ve sold several originals. I’ve built enough inventory to call and visit a few galleries and shops. One local gallery said my stuff was good, then shut down for the summer – but it still sounds promising. I have some photos on sale in a small (but really cool) store in Iowa. I have had a couple portrait commission inquiries. And I have two restaurants that will hang some of my art next month.

I have a huge spreadsheet full of art ideas that must be painted before I croak. My next big project will be painting 100 cephalopod species. It may take years, but I’m excited about it. And to show you how far I’ve come since I started with color, my latest and greatest work is on display above (permission to roll eyes and snicker granted).

I also started this blog. It’s been wonderful so far (for me at least… I hope for you as well). I have a million ideas, questions, and tips I want to share with you. That’s the end for now. I wonder what the next year will bring?