Orange, Neutrals and a Bit of Bling


There are two components (and separate posts) to today's mini project: painting the last colour sheets to be used in this module then making a collage of a plate design in the lead up to the bigger project.

Before making the first collage for this module we will be making some more colour sheets to be used in the weekend assignment. I would like to show you how to create neutral and grey tints by using the basic primary colours as well as magenta and Pthalo blue without using black. Beautiful warm greys and neutral hues are created by varying the ratio of colours used. You will be making some orange coloured papers as well, and two lovely gold sheets of paper to be used as well in the collages.


For today’s project to create sheets you will use the following colours yellow, Ultramarine blue, red, Pthalo blue and magenta. White will be added to some of the colours to create lighter and more opaque hues. To create orange and neutrals you'll only use the colours mentioned - do not add Pthalo green, Burnt Sienna or Azo gold to the mix. You will use them in the next module.


Creating orange

Place a small amount of paint medium on the deli sheet then use a fan brush dipped in water in order to lubricate it a bit. Add small drops of red and yellow and mix in. Add more drops and see how the colour changes, the red is a stronger pigment than the yellow so use only small drops.

You can have some colour variety on the same sheet, more yellow on one side and deeper orange on the other. Place a clean deli sheet over the first orange one to create a replica. Next you can make orange in the same way - if you add only a few drops of colour and retain the translucency of the paint medium it will be a very light peach orange once dried . On the next sheet you can add a few drops of white to create an opaque light orange. Repeat the process with magenta instead of red. Notice the subtle difference in the orange colour - you can create another sheet with added white or do a two-toned sheet with one side lighter and the other more orange. Do not add black to the orange at this point.

Greys and Neutrals

You will be using the following colours to create the selection of greys and neutrals: red, yellow, Ultramarine blue, Pthalo and magenta + white. Do not use black for this exercise.

Apply a small amount of paint medium on a deli sheet. On the sheet add small drops of the following: yellow, Ultramarine and red. Mix together and notice what happens to the colour: it might be a brownish grey or more red in tint depending on the ratio of colours.

Add a few more drops of a colour, mix in and notice how this changes the appearance from a bright colour to more muted or from warm to cool. To create lighter hues and opaque pastels you can increase the white ratio. If this is your first Flower Collage course, you might want to experiment more with the mixing of neutral colours. It's up to you, but for this project you will need three of four mixes of different neutrals. You can make sheets with an ombre effect, lighter on one half using white, and darker on the other. Points to remember:

  • Keep the layers thin, not too much medium or paint, same as the previous colour sheet project.

  • Apply a clean deli sheet on top of the painted ones to create two sheets and create more texture.

  • You can have an extra deli sheet underneath the ones you are painting. The paint tends to seep through a little and this creates a stippled texture on the paper beneath which makes an interesting paper for collaging (this is optional).

  • Always wipe the brush onto a sheet to be filled with colours - these sheets are magical, the unplanned colour mixes and brush marks captured will be used in collages.


You will make two gold sheets for this project. Remember to shake the High Flow Iridescent gold before use. Use a good amount of paint on a fresh deli sheet and apply with a fan brush to cover the entire area of the deli paper. Allow to dry and repeat, it's important to have a solid gold sheet. You can do another one whilst the first one dries. Once you have two dry gold deli sheets, paint the back of the paper in a mixture of brown and black. This is to intensify the gold colour and to ensure the sheet is opaque.


Create one sheet of blue using the same mix of Ultramarine blue, Pthalo blue and black as you did when you made the Chinoiserie brush mark techniques. Use a small amount of matte medium on a brush, mix some drops of the colours into this and cover the sheet. Do not make a print-off sheet of this colour, to make sure it stays dark. Don't have too much paint on the sheet though


The colour combinations for the main collage project of Module Two are complimentary colours: blues and orange, with neutrals and grey tints to add balance. It is a limited palette to allow the focus to be on the variety of blues for the following Chinoiserie-inspired plant collage. Gold is a bit of a showstopper when used in the right way and adds a bit of bling!

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour