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The Color Mix


Red is a powerful color with symbolic meaning that goes back through all of history. And during American Heart Month (building awareness for heart disease) and on Valentine's Day, it seems like the perfect color to hightlight in The Color Mix. But we're not talking about just any red—we're talking about bold and beautiful Crimson.

Crimison has an interesting history. It's often used in everyday conversation and culture to signify emotion, "she blushed crimson with embarassment." In literature, crimson has often had a royal association and connotation. There is even old lore about how it became one of the signature colors of Harvard University.

But for artists, alizarin crimson has a special place on our palettes. We know it for its ability to blend into deep colors, perfect for cool shadows in landscapes and still lifes. Blended with lighter colors, the pinks and melons from crimson develop into lovely hues for fruits, flowers, and even sunsets.

In Learn to Draw & Paint: Flowers this photo of an orchid blossoms into a vibrant subject for an oil painting.

orchid photo

The artist uses a palette of:

Oil Colors: Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Barium Orange, Lemon Yellow, Manganese Blue Hue, Phthalo Rose Red, Phthalo Violet, Sap Green, Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue

Oil Pastels: Cerulean Blue, Pink, Violet

how to paint an orchid

"To create your focal point—the heart of the orchid—lay down alizarin crimson, cadmium barium orange, and phthalo violet. Keep your brushstrokes simple, blending some together with a clean, soft brush. Finish by adding the details, such as the spots on the center petals. Sharpen or blend any other areas as needed."

crimson orchid

What are your favorite uses for Crimson?

paint crimson orchid

Images and text excerpted from Learn to Draw & Paint: Flowers

Angela Corpus

Angela is Marketing Manager for the Quarto Publishing Group USA. A Chicago gal at heart, she recently relocated to southern California and can usually be found exploring the beaches, feeding her newfound inner artist, and chasing sunsets with her camera. A collector of stories old and new, she's an avid postcard sender, and origami cranes always seem to tag along on her travels. Follow her adventures on Twitter: @angelacorpus

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