During my many years of teaching, I have often heard students ask, “What background color do I choose for my painting?” They have spent valuable time painting a subject or portrait and now they need a background.
Water soluble oils have arrived! Actually, they showed up in art materials stores over 20 years ago, but are just now becoming known and more frequently used. They are also called “water mixable” oils. Either will suffice, though I prefer water mixable because soluble can imply that the paint, once dried, will dissolve if it comes in contact with water.
I began working in water mixable oils in 2002, having been introduced to them at a plein air workshop. At that time, only a few brands were available. The most reliable and consistent was Duo by Holbein. Having come from 15 years of working in watercolors and a few years with pastels, I had not spent a lot of time with traditional oil paints. Hence, I dove in without much bias toward regular oils. [Read more…]
Do you know why you mix mud?
In my humble opinion, the Two Primary Palette is the gateway to color mixing with confidence and not mixing mud. Knowing how to use this well balanced palette opens doors to mixing clean colors while mixing mud only when you choose. Imagine not mixing mud!
Throughout this CelebraingColor blog, I write about color bias and its role in creating the Two Primary Palette. To read more, please visit these posts: 1) Why Color Bias is Key to Mixing Color; 2) How to Mix Bright and Dull Secondaries. This eye-opening information is also taught via my online Craftsy video course Acrylic Color Mixing with Ease!
Below is a schematic showing the foundation of the Two Primary Palette, which can also be called the Double-Primary or Split-Primary Palette. You will notice I have two strong color bias tubes of paint for each primary color. By this I mean, the color leanings of each primary color is evident. The palette consists of a: green-yellow, orange-yellow, green-blue, red (violet)-blue, blue (violet)-red, orange-red and orange-yellow.
What Does a Two Primary Palette Look Like in Action?
Recently, a reader asked me to show how I place these colors onto my working painting palette.
Below shows you how I translate it onto my palette. On the left I have numbered the six colors of the graphic Two-Primary Palette and on the right you can see these colors squirted out. There is no correct way to do this. It just happens to be how I like to lay out my paints. Putting out your paints is personal and unique to each of us.
Wait I don’t stop there! In the next image you see mixtures of my primaries to add more colors to my palette. In other words, I mix the two yellows, then the two reds and then the two blues. By doing this I have eliminated needing more tubes of paint — see the image below of my yellow mixture that matches up with a tube of paint.
Creating these additional mixtures is optional. Watercolorists you can do the same thing in your palette using the wells and leaving empty wells in between your 6 primary colors and, of course, not including white.
This is an example of mixing my two yellows into another yellow mixture. The big blob is my mixture and the squirt of color out of the tube is to the right of it. I don’t need to own this tube of yellow because it is easy to mix.
Next, I typically mix my bright secondary colors. To learn more, please read How to Mix Bright and Dull Secondaries. By the way, I use a porcelain butcher tray for my palette.
And then, if you want to continue setting up your palette of colors, you can mix your tertiary colors of burnt sienna, olive green and purple-black. Again, these are completely optional.
To learn more about tertiary colors, please visit my post: What is the Correct Definition of Tertiary Colors?
By starting out with this well balanced Two Primary Palette, I have increased my possibilities of a successful painting because of this color unity. Decision making is also easier and I have decreased the chances of mixing mud.
Now you are ready to rock and roll! How do you lay out your colors when using the two primary palette? I would love to know. Please share this in the comment section below.
By the way, the Two Primary Palette and the color mixing principles taught in Acrylic Color Mixing Made Easy! apply to ALL media, not just acrylics.
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You may be asking, “Yikes! Is Carol going to discuss how to mix with green tubes of paint?!”
As many of you know, I am not a fan of green paint that we can buy in tubes no matter the medium. I much prefer mixing green with yellows and blues as described and demonstrated in my free Mix Greens with Ease e-book. I have never liked tube greens. The top two reasons are, 1. They do not look natural, and 2. Most of them have a very strong tintorial strength and can be over powering. For some reason, my reaction to tube greens is similar to hearing chalk screeching on a black board.
At the same time, I know that many painters have tube greens on their palettes, such as: Viridian, sap green, and permanent green, etc. Given their popularity, I thought I would share with you a few color charts showing how you can mix more natural looking greens using these tube greens. Don’t get me wrong, these unnatural greens do come in handy when painting a green glass vase or creating a sense of fantasy, such as the Wizard of Oz. 🙂 Abstract paintings are open game when it comes to color.
How Do You Make Tube Greens Look Natural?
This first chart displays how I mixed the watercolor tube greens of Winsor green and Viridian with three different reds. You can also see three different ratios of green and red in the rows.
There are some yummy dark greens as well as delightful blue greens that you would find in spruce trees, a deep forest or back in the distance of a landscape painting. Where else could you apply these greens? Because I am mixing the color opposites of red and green, I added only a bit of the red to maintain the integrity of green. It may take some practice in achieving these different hues.
Then I duplicated this chart but this time I added a little bit of aureolin (for those of you who do not know watercolor paints, aureolin is a transparent green-yellow similar to Hansa yellow light) to Viridian and Winsor Green respectively. Notice how the resulting greens warm up nicely and look even more natural.
These next two color charts show the results of mixing three different oil tube greens with the corresponding cadmium red, rose and Indian red. Do these appear natural looking to you? Which ones would you use in a floral, landscape or abstract painting?
Next, I mixed only Viridian with two different yellows – lemon yellow and Hansa yellow medium – as seen in the first row of greens in the chart below. I then mixed this yellow + green mixture with the same reds as above. The subtle differences are difficult to see in this digital format. Time to try out your own chart of greens?
Of course there a many variations of these charts given the colors available to you. Which are you inspired to try mixing?
In the end, mixing my greens with yellows and blues remains my preference over using tube greens. I prefer this because I will have used those same yellows and blues in other mixtures in my painting which creates more unity throughout the piece. However, we live in a world of many options and color is personal. Enjoy making discoveries about color and learning what tickles your fancy.
What is your preference? Does it vary depending on what you are painting? Hopefully the above has inspired you to further explore your colors.
Please share this post with other painters who may benefit from this information. Thank you!
What is ‘alcohol obsessed painting?’ As a creative, do you sometimes find yourself obsessed with some technique or skill that you would like to learn? My latest obsession is alcohol. No, not the kind that comes in a whiskey bottle, but the rubbing or isopropyl alcohol that you can purchase in any grocery or pharmacy for about $0.79.
Below you can see the under painting for 3 different paintings where I used alcohol to create amebae-like shapes. You can probably surmise that I am, in fact, obsessed with this alcohol technique! LOL! Many would say that I have gone overboard.
How Do I Create These Alcohol Obsessed Paintings?
Please let me start out with a qualifier: I have only been experimenting with this obsession for a couple of months, so I know I have more to learn. Your suggestions and experiences are welcomed.