An Artist’s “50 Shades of Grey”


No this doesn’t have to do with creative sex or whatever we now associate with this title.

Boring, disappointing? But read on.)  My thoughts legitamently are about greys in relation to color.


We perceive and identify color mostly as primary colors; red, blue and yellow or

secondary colors: green, orange or purple which are made from combining two of the

primaries.  As a painter one of my challenges was to learn the subtitles of colors.

Watching and listening to the demonstrators at the Plein Air Conference really stressed

that concept.  Every one talked about the “grey” and pushing/mixing it to make

a “red”, “blue” , “green” or other color.  But grey not being a mixture with black.  To keep

colors vibrant mixing of an opposing color mutes the primary.  Some artists mix up a pool of grey to add to all colors to keep a color “harmony”.  Another method is to mix up what is referred to as the mother color, the major color of a scene that will be added to

all the other colors to achieve that harmony.


Green is the most challenging color with which to work.  Straight out of the tube or even

a mixed green of blue and yellow can be garish.  Mixed with red, the opposing color starts to tone it down and makes it more appealing.  Manipulating the color further such as adding blue we can make the colors recede to show depth and distance in our paintings.


Every so often I stop and do some experiments mixing colors especially to get different

greens.  As  the exercise progresses the most beautiful greens which are actually greys are created.  They are so beautiful they can create an intense emotional response. (can be almost orgasmic)!  So maybe this does relate to our known “50 Shades of Grey”.  So next time you look at a painting look for those beautiful greys.


But maybe it should be done when no one is around?

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One Response to “AN ARTIST’S “50 SHADES OF GREY””

  1. Erik Holland says:


    Very funny, and yes, I am working on my greys, too ( and not just my hair)

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