Sinead Lawless

Sinead Lawless, simply describing herself as a painter, was invited by the Greystones Art Group to talk about one of her areas of expertise, colour mixing in oil paint.

On February 12th, 2024 we came together in the Kilcoole Community Centre starting with each of the attendees giving a quick intro on the medium/media they use and where they had encountered problems.
As became clear from some members, inadvertently creating ‘muck’ is a common one.

On that note, Sinead began by explaining the whole area of colour, how we see it, technical terms like ‘hue, value and chroma’, and the importance of neutral colours to make the brighter colours pop. Much like brides-maids’ dresses are meant to support and not overshadow the bride’s dress.

As artists, we are both technicians and illusionists, she explained. And for that, it’s important to know how colours behave and influence each other.

She then set to work, – copied by 17 eager palette knives – creating a simple triangle on paper and purposely making ‘muck’ with three primary colours. She then made the 3 complementary colours, which, with further manipulation, linked back again to the original ‘muck’.
In the final exercise Sinead showed how to bring back the ‘muck’ to the original colour – as far as possible.
And whilst that all may sound very technical, for me it landed. Instead of seeing the separate colour blocks on the traditional colour wheel, Sinead made the magic of every colour blending into a beautiful colour sphere with endless possibilities. ‘Optical blending’ she called it.

The variety of palettes we were shown was incredible, with for example a page full of different greens, both warm and cool, all created from 3 primary colours. Sinead prepares her own work by trying out and mixing a variety of palettes before starting any painting. Her advice would be to pick the main colour/s for the intended painting and build a palette around that. Often only 3 or 4 colours are needed.

And then there were lots of tips, like treating white with great care, how to darken (bright) colours and how to best lay out the palette with plenty of space for mixing.

Sinead brought in some books highly recommended for further reading:

  • A Course in Mastering the Art of Colour by Betty Edwards
  • Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green by Michael Wilcox
  • Interaction of Color by Josef Albers

Lots of food for thought to learn and go forward. And with Sinead’s expression ‘Colour is Food’, unintended muck will be a thing of the past for members of the Greystones Art Group. A super session!

Do read more about Sinead on her website, you’ll be fascinated.