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Using Triadic and Complimentary Colors in the Studio

Being an overachiever (hah!), I finished the August lessons from Kaleidoscope 2023 ahead of schedule. I did two mixed media paintings following the triadic color scheme. The triadic color scheme consists of three colors separated by three spaces on the color wheel. I then tried to do a 30-minute portrait using a complimentary color scheme – colors directly apart on the color wheel.  The results are below along with links to the artist’s wesite.

Into Space – Nadya Duff


This lesson was similar to the one Nadya offered during the taster week where she painted the astronaut, Mae Jemison. In this lesson, she suggested using ourselves as the astronaut. I chose to use a photo of me as a child for the reference. The triadic colors used were versions of green, red, and orange. I used watercolor, Zebra™ colored pens, and Prismacolor™ and Chartpak™ Manga markers.

Mixed media painting of a young girl as an astronaut
Into Space!

I can’t say that this is my favorite painting ever, but I do like the expression on my face. I look excited and a little scared to be flying a spaceship into the great beyond.

Jungle Jaguar by Eulalia Mejia


Eulalia’s class used the triadic colors of red-violet, yellow-orange, and blue-green, This lesson looked easy at first glance, but took some time to build up the layers of acrylic paint, clear gesso, colored pencils, and markers. The spots (or rosettes as Eulalia calls them) were especially time-consuming.

Colorful painting of a jaguar in a fantasy jungle.

Overall, this was a fun lesson and I enjoyed using some of my art supplies (like colored pencils) that I don’t often use.

Shimmer and Shadows by Meg Vallejos McCoy

This lesson wasn’t from Kaleidoscope 2023 but from the Ivy Newport website. If interested, I think you can catch the replay at the link below:


The point of the 30-miute exercise is to get the artist to loosen up. Meg also began the portrait using a Stabilo-All™ water-soluble pencil. When moistened (in this case with clear gesso), the graphite becomes activated and behaves in ways that aren’t entirely predictable. I rather liked my initial drawing and was reluctant to moisten it. Then, I rather liked my activated painting but then she went on to painting. I didn’t particularly like the painted version and for some crazy reason, I decided to place the whole thing face down on a Gelli™ plate I had some leftover paint on. What a mistake! Then I tried to use more of the Stabilo-All™ pencil and acrylic paint.

Mixed media portrait

Still not happy, I went over the whole painting with a wash of acrylic ink, giving it a grungy look and pushing back some of the odd colors introduced from the Gelli™ plate.

Mixed media portrait - attempt two

As if that wasn’t enough, I used colored pencils and to bring some of the color back to her hair. Now she looks like she’s bleeding from her ear!

Mixed media portrait - attempt three

I couldn’t stop myself! I used a little pastel to emphasize the magenta in her hair. It’s a little better, at least I stopped the bleeding.

Final version of a mxed media portrait

Lesson learned – stop while you’re ahead. 

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