Finding Colours

I prefer living in colour - David Hockney


Creating coloured deli sheets is central to this course, the materials used to create the collage layers, and we will start with the very basics. Before we mix up colours to create varieties like orange, purple and ranges of green, we will be creating sheets by using the basic set of eight colours plus black and white.

In addition to painting the sheets of yellow, golden azo, brown, red, magenta, pthalo blue, ultramarine blue, pthalo green, black and white, you will also create hues and shades of each colour by mixing them with white and black high flow paint.


The process for making coloured sheets is demonstrated in the video with an explanation and a few pointers in the process section below.


Shake the bottles before you use the paint, this is necessary for all the paint colours! Check the white and ultramarine blue colours in particular since the paint particles tend to settle more when stored.

Apply a few drops of colour directly onto the deli sheets. I recommend using a fan brush to paint the areas for colours rather than a flat brush. Dip the paintbrush in water at the start of the process. You do not want to create sheets that are too wet with water or paint, so use paint sparingly and remember to add matte painting medium, probably no more than half a teaspoon per sheet, to move the paint around and create sheets that are more translucent but with even colours.

Once you have covered the sheet apply a clean deli sheet on top to transfer some of the paint across, as explained in the video. The reason for doing this is to create really thinly painted sheets - you do not want to have too much paint on a sheet to be used in layers for collaging.

Deli sheets:

First batch. The basic range of colours

Remember to use the outside side of the sheets, so when you take it out of the box, and you imagine it as a pamphlet, you are to use the outside area to paint on, it is less waxy than the inside of the paper.

All the colours apart from black and white are to be painted mixed with a small amount of matte medium and a few drops of colour. For black and white sheets you are to use the paint without matte medium. For white, use the paintbrush with a few drops of water only. Again, remember to shake the bottles of paint and clean off the paintbrush on a different deli sheet after painting each colour, rather than rinsing off the paint in water. These unplanned cleaning off sheets are great to create interesting marks and colour combinations, and will be used later in the course.

Second batch: Pastels

Once you have the 10 colours painted, you can move on to make pastel colours by mixing white into it.

Apply a few drops of a single colour as done previously, and paint it onto half of the paper before adding white drops of paint on the other half or the paper, I do not use matte paint medium for these sheets, I just mix the white paint with the colours to create pastel sheets. Do not 'over mix' the colours to create a flat colour, instead you are aiming for a bit of variety per colour, with one half more coloured and the other half a whiter pastel colour, a sort of ombre effect.

Third batch: Colours mixed with black.

In the same way as mixing the white paint and colours, black is used, do take care to use black paint drop by drop, it is very concentrated in pigment and can overpower any colour easily.


The basic range of colours plus shades and hues will be used for Module One's collage project. By following the instructions you will have a good supply of papers to use in other collage projects to come, more colour mixing will follow in the next modules when colours are mixed together. The painted sheets will be used in layered collages, and should be allowed to dry for 24 hours before you create paper collages. This is in order to get the paint to cure onto the deli paper.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour