Courageous colo(u)r mixing tips from Maggie

Painting by Maggie Renner Hellman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Our lovely American painting tutor Maggie Renner Hellman calls her painting weeks at the Watermill Courageous Color Workshops. We call them sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring paintings holidays.

We also have problems, being English, that we can’t spell color (ho, ho!) and always want to slip in an intrusive ‘u’. There was a time when we called the weeks Courageous Colo(u)r Workshops, but that felt a little clunky, so we’ve capitulated to the Americans and, for this blog at least, which is very colourful (!), we’ll stick with color.

Maggie will be back for another Courageous Color Workshop next year. More details below. However you spell it, we can’t wait!

Maggie color tip 1

So here are Maggie’s tips on new ways of thinking about, looking at, and mixing color. There are four variables to take into consideration:

  • Temperature
  • Value
  • Intensity
  • Complement

Or, as Maggie puts it:

  • warmer versus cooler
  • lighter vs. darker
  • more intense vs. duller
  • complementary vs. analogous

Maggie color tip 2First, Temperature.  Maggie asks: “Is the color you need basically a warm color or a cool color? She says: Warm colors are Red, Orange & Yellow. Cool colors are Blue, Green and Purple. You can also have temperature shifts within a single color, like a cool blue versus a warm blue and so on. Colors in the sun tend to be warmer, while colors in the shade tend to be cooler. Observe these shifts in nature. Cooler colors tend to recede, warmer colors tend to come forward. This concept can be used to create depth.”

Next, Value. Maggie says: “On a scale from 1-10, if 1= black and 10= white, what is the rough value of the color you need. Is it in the light? Or is it in shadow? Group your colors in sunlight together at the higher numbers on the scale 7, 8 and 9. Group your colors in shadow at the lower numbers on the scale 3, 4 and 5. Objects have less contrast in their values as you move back into the distance. And more contrast as you move forward. This can also, used to create depth.”

Maggie color tip 4Then, Intensity. Maggie asks: “Is the color you’re mixing part of the focal area? If so, it might want to be a more vibrant or intense color. Or is the color you’re mixing part of the background, or of non-focal point areas? If so, you might choose to make this color less intense or duller.” She adds: “If the area you are painting is closer to the viewer, the color would normally appear more intense than the same colored object further away. This can also, be used to create depth.”

Finally, Complementary or Analogous Color. Maggie says: “Complementary colors, (opposites on the color wheel) when used next to each other display a higher energy. Analogous colors (colors next to each other on the color wheel) are softer in energy when used next to each other. Decide if and where you might want high energy, like at a focal point. Or if and where you want a soft energy in your painting.

Painting by Maggie Renner Hellman, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Maggie says: “Always ask yourself these 4 main questions when you begin to mix a color. It is the artist’s choices here that determine the direction and style of a painting. Observe nature and make your choices with confidence! It’s your loves and energies tempered with foundational knowledge that will shine through as a result.” She adds: “Painting is a combination of observation, interpretation and creativity:

“Learn the tools of the trade and then, Go for it with passion!”

Maggie will be with us again next year, from Saturday 19 May to Saturday 26 May 2018. Come and join us. Here are some comments from our painting guestson Maggie’s course last year. One said: Maggie is good at teaching in all mediums and with all levels.   She did wonderful demos in watercolour, acrylic, pastel and oil.  Every day we did critiques together and learned from each other. I highly recommend this art workshop as well as the most wonderful accommodation with great food and wine. A little piece of heaven in experiencing Italy.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, sculpting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Out on location in the glorious Tuscan countryside

Another commented: “Our experiences at the Watermill were definitely the highlights of our tours! Maggie’s gentle and helpful manner coupled with technical skill and aesthetic sense opened the gates of motivation for students, making them comfortable in their new surroundings and primed for an exciting creative experience in those beautiful hills of Tuscany. I also appreciated Maggie’s husband, Lou’s ready assists for our physical comforts. What a dream adventure, the two of you, along with Bill and Lois, prepared for all of us!”!

Maggie Monte 2

Maggie Renner Hellmann is a contemporary California artist who paints with love, passion and energy. Her work is characterized by a unique blend of loose, energetic brushwork and strong compositions of exuberant colour. She says: “I love the joy of color and the poetry of brushwork.”

Maggie is also an enthusiastic tutor who has been teaching for more than 15 years – and loves it! Her workshop will cover oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolour. Maggie says: “The Foundational Concepts on color mixing are the same for Oils, Acrylics, Watercolors & Pastel. Your choice of medium! I will do demos for any of these mediums requested.” Maggie will encourage the beginner and challenge the more advanced painter.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at the watermill: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre). You get to Pisa, Italy, we do the rest!

Early Bird discount

*** If you book before 31 December 2017 there’s a £GBP 75 per person (about $100) discount on this fabulous 2018 painting holiday.  To enquire about availability and/or to reserve your place, please click here.

maggie plus pic

19-26 May 2018 

Maggie Renner Hellmann

Oils, acrylics, pastels watercolours

To learn more about Maggie and her course at The Watermill, please click here.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, sculpting, knitting, creative writing, Italian language and yoga, holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Aphrodite kidnapped. A bust of the goddess, normally in the Watermill sitting room, placed artistically in the walled garden.




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