Mastering Colour 7: Exploring Colour with the Munsell Wheel

Discover a whole new colour wheel and how you can use it to unlock more unusual harmonious colour combinations. Paint a Munsell wheel using your usual 6 pigments and begin to explore the possibilities of a whole new way of thinking about primary and secondary colours.


The Munsell colour system is built around an alternative arrangement of colours on awheel that differs significantly from that of the standard ‘triadic’ or primary colour system. Using Munsell’s wheel we can access new pairs of complementary colours and unlock a whole new world of harmony in our paintings. Learning how to create Munsell’s wheel from the same 6 pigments as your double primary wheel deepens your appreciation for the versatility of your palette and the relationships between the colours you can mix.

Contents: Slide talk, practical demonstration and skill building exercise.
Running time: 1 hr  33 mins
Time required for exercise: 1 hr

Materials List

Materials and equipment required:

One 9 x 12” board or A4 sheet of paper
2 x Pins
Printed image of colour wheel template if possible or a protractor
A small flat paint brush, around 1cm or ½ “ wide is ideal, a round brush would also be fine
A palette knife of any size and shape you like to use
Paper towel for cleaning/drying brushes
Plenty of clean water if you’re using acrylics or watercolours
Just one from each line of the following list of colours
• Titanium white
• Any bright greenish yellow – Cadmium lemon yellow, bright yellow lake, bismuth vanadate, Lemon yellow (not Michael Harding’s lemon yellow though – be sure to use his cadmium lemon!)
• An orangey yellow – Indian yellow red shade, cadmium golden yellow, cadmium yellow deep, gamboge, Yellow lake deep
• An orangey red – Cadmium red light, vermillion, possibly napthol red if it is an orangey shade
• A purplish red – Quinacridone pink, opera rose, permanent rose, alizarin claret, permanent alizarin, alizarin crimson, (or perhaps even magenta though that is a bit too purple really)
• A purplish blue – Ultramarine or cobalt blue
• A greenish blue – Phthalocyanine blue lake, phthalo blue green shade, Windsor blue, cerulean blue

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