• Rose-Marie Marshall-Jane

Yvonne's Tips on Colours and why green should be used as little as possible.

Updated: Feb 26, 2019


I listen to my mum a lot, after all her years of experience of being an artist I'd be a little silly to ignore her advice and skills. The one thing I take the most notice of is her use of colour. My mama knows what she's talking about when it comes to colour.


Recently, we had a little chat about her rules when it comes to drawing with coloured pencils. Pencils is her chosen medium although she is partial to a pastel or two.


Here’s what mama told me and remember, mama knows best.




1: Stick to 5 colours.


"Using 5 colours is more than enough for me, especially if I'm drawing an animal or a portrait. Using too many colours makes it too busy and confuses the picture. What's the point of using 3 different colours of red or 5 colours of blue? You don't need that many. When you layer colour on top of colour you create new colours, lighter or darker you are still creating your own shades and variations with a limited palette."

Always buy your pencils individually, otherwise you may end up with leftover pencils from tins that have never seen the texture of paper and probably never will. Don’t waste money, buy individually!


"There's 4 primary colours, all the rest are made up of those colours: blue, red, yellow and white. So what can be achieved with 5 colours is more than enough to make your piece of art stand out. Imagine finishing a piece, looking at it and telling your friends 'Hey, I did this with only 5 colours' Isn't that something to be proud of?"

When observing Yvonne teaching a class it’s amazing to see how many students take on her advice and apply the ‘rules’. When they complete an exercise or piece of art with the use of only 5 colours or less it’s an accomplishment they can be proud of.


"Of course, this is how I see it, how I prefer to draw and create art. Each artist is different so do as you see fit."




2: Background Colours


"If it suits the subject I use a light grey or light blue as a background when using a white piece of paper, I never colour a white piece of paper in a dark colour for the background. If I wanted a dark background I'd draw on a dark piece of paper. Colouring in the background in a bright or dark colour will take away the focus on your subject, start with a coloured background and then build your art on top, don't waste time colouring it in when you don't have to. This is where the colour wheel comes in handy, blue and orange are opposite each other on the colour spectrum so you wouldn't have a blue background on a orange object because it'll take away the focus on the object”

I’ve seen some awful colour choices for backgrounds in my short time, but who am I to judge if you want a dark blue background on a light coloured rose.




3: Green, why should it be used as little as possible?


"With flowers and landscape of course you need to use green, that doesn’t mean you need to use a lot of it or 4 different shades of it. Green can be a very garish colour and used wrongly will drown out all other aspects of you art. I’m not saying don’t use green, if you’re drawing a flower you’re going to need to use green for leaves, stems, grass etc. Just be mindful how you use it, a little goes a long way.”



All artists are different and see things differently, Yvonne’s aspects and rules apply to her style of art and this is what she teaches her students when they want to draw like her. These won’t necessarily apply if you want to be an abstract artist for example, in that case, use as many colours as you like! Splash on a bit of green, throw in your 15 shades of red and drop in a blue/black background on your orange coloured rose.


World’s your oyster and life is your canvas.

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