Posted in ColorPlay, pastel painting, studio tip

Pastel ColorPlay Project #8: Colorful Grays

Hello Creative Friends! 🙂  It’s time for a new ColorPlay AND an announcement!

I have a new YouTube channel!!!  


My hope is that I can periodically post about my paintings in progress and the techniques I use.

However, since I have just begun learning how to document via video, AND I tend toward perfectionism in things like editing, 😉 I am not planning on posting videos with any regularity yet.  Thanks for your understanding!

I WILL be embedding the videos I create on this blog, though, so please check them out and let me know what you think.  And if you have ideas for videos, let me know that too!   Just click on the picture at the bottom of today’s post to watch the video.

Now, on to today’s ColorPlay…. 🙂



For today’s painting I chose a Triadic color scheme of red-violet, blue-green, and yellow-orange in a variety of values.

Triad of red-violet, blue-green, and yellow-orange

The reason for my choices were two-fold.

First, I don’t typically like working with triads.  I could never explain exactly why, but I think I may have figured it out!

We’ve all seen preschool rooms painted in bright, primary colors of red, blue, and yellow.  
Well, I never liked that color scheme…it seemed garish to me.  BUT….

Take those same primary colors and gray them down, and voila!  You have a completely different look!

So that’s the approach I took with today’s painting, only instead of using Primary colors (red/blue/yellow), I used versions of violet/green/orange, aka Secondary colors.


The second reason for choosing a Triadic color scheme is to create Colorful Grays!  This is the technique I show in the video at the bottom of this post.

Most people think of “gray” as a non-color somewhere between black and white.

But that can be pretty boring and dull-looking in an otherwise colorful painting. That’s where triads come in.

Any time you mix three colors which are approximately equidistant on the color wheel, you will get what is called “muddy” color.  

Most of the time, painters try to avoid making mud!  

But there are times when we want our colors to be muddy (grayed down or neutralized).  (Note: You can also achieve neutral colors by mixing opposite colors on the color wheel, but they are not as colorful.)

Here is an example of what I am talking about.

Secondary (left); Primary (right)

You can see the individual colors which make up the swatches above.  The more times I apply each layer, the more the pastels will mix themselves and the more “gray” they become.  

It’s easier to see this with the swatches on the right using primary colors in different values.

Here is another example:  I LOVE the gray achieved with the bottom swatch…. 🙂



Using Canson Touch sanded pastel paper in mid-tone gray




Colorful grays were used in this painting—especially in the background trees and sky.


Check out the video below to see how I created different grays.

Phew!!  Well, that’s it for now.  

Thanks so much to you all for taking time to read my blog!  It means a lot!!!

Please feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas about this or other posts, or my YouTube endeavor.

And until next time….stay creative and colorful!



Rhonda is an artist, violinist, mountain dulcimer player, composer/arranger, homeschool mom, and chicken/goat farmer. To purchase her fine art, visit

2 thoughts on “Pastel ColorPlay Project #8: Colorful Grays

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s