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Just the Right Color

If you've ever painted anything from a reference photo or from real life you may have experienced what I am going through right now. Sometimes finding the right tint or shade of a color for whatever you're working on is easy and sometimes... it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. The worst is when you think you've mixed just the right hue only to discover that it looks totally different when it dries, or when you bring it into a different light. You wouldn't think it could be so hard because all the colors you ever need to make are comprised of combinations of the three primary colors: red, blue and yellow. But despite having only three choices to start from as a base, there can be a million different colors that can come from pairing them together.

I've been going back and forth over this on a painting I'm doing from a photo I took a year or two ago at the Philadelphia Flower show. The photograph is of a bunch of peach roses in a mason jar. Peach in and of itself is a difficult color to match just because it can come out looking too pink or too orange, but then on top of that, to mix the right shade to create the shadow areas without it looking too muddy is an even bigger challenge! Many times I have walked away in frustration and come back later to try again.

So to those of you who like to paint, my question is... do you ever run into this issue with your work and if so, what do you usually do to get over this creative hump in order to finish your painting? Does strictly trial and error usually work for you or do you have a method of finding exactly the right hue you want every single time?

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