Painters, how do you mix pink? I suspect you grab a red, add white and Voilà! Or watercolorists just add water. However, executing this color mixing approach does not always result in a satisfactory pink for a particular subject or painting. A more systematic method to mixing this seemingly simple color can be helpful.
Like every color, pink encompasses a full range of hues. Pink is a pastel color sitting in the light value range. This can be one reasons why it can be a challenge to mix.
How Do You Mix Pink?
When confronted with this question of “How do I mix pink?” as for any desired mixture, I start with identifying the base or source color. In this situation, the base color is a red. Next I start thinking about designing a color mixing chart I want to create. Since I am not matching a particular pink for a specific subject or abstract painting, a chart is a good way to discover what I might available when I want a pink. There are many options and I encourage you to be creative in making your color charts.
Next, I ask this question, “Which color bias of red mixes into a pink? Is it a violet-red or an orange-red?” As discussed in a previous post about creating pigment charts , I refer to my various color charts often. Here is an example of my reds using acrylic paints. Any chart similar to this one will assist in determining which color bias would produce the pink you want. Which ones would you choose?
My red pigment chart provide a great reference for choosing the reds I want to experiment with. Here is one for my oil paints:
Note that these charts contains many tubes of red. Please do not feel like you are missing out if you don’t have a large quantity of tubes. Because I am in the business of teaching color, I naturally collect tubes like many collect sea shells. Most painters only have two to five tubes of red.
For the design of my pink color chart, I decided that I wanted to show a swatch of the tube color mixed with: 1) a medium; 2) titanium white; 3) zinc white; and 4) the latter mixed with a little green-yellow, in this case, lemon yellow. By the way, this chart is created with oil paints.
By adding some medium to my tube color, I can see the red as a thin layer of paint. It also provides a good reference for any layering of color I might want to do in future paintings. Isn’t it interesting to see the difference in hue just by mixing the paint with some medium? This is displayed in the second column.
Before continuing, let me describe what I drew up before I started mixing colors. I used a sheet of 12″ x16″ canvas paper and with a clear 2″ ruler, I penciled in a matrix. (Watercolorists need to use good watercolor paper.) The boxes are about 1 1/2″ square. I labeled my columns and rows with a pencil. (For this post, I PhotoShopped the text in.)
Next, I thought I would experiment mixing with both titanium and zinc white to mix pink. Titanium is an opaque white, whereas zinc white is more transparent. You can see the results in the corresponding columns below. I discovered that the hue isn’t different, but the transparency is which will come into play for different painting applications. It is also important to see how white DULLS the hue. Many painters forget this. White lightens a color, but it does not brighten a color. White also adds a little blue to a mixture. See my post on mixing white for more information.
To continue my experimenting, I thought I would mix a little – it only takes a small amount – of lemon yellow (green-yellow) to my mixed pink. I wanted to see how this altered the pink because I knew it would warm it up. What do you think?
Throughout the process of creating a color mixing chart, it is critical that your brush or palette knife is clean before starting another mixture.
Confession: When I began making this chart, I thought I would only use reds with a color bias of violet-red, but then as I mixed and painted more, I asked myself, “Why not try a few that are orange-red?” I was pleasantly surprised by the pinks, though they are more coral in hue, I mixed. Fun, right?! Color mixing charts are truly a wonderful way to explore the potential of color. Here is my completed chart of pinks.
As you can see, not all reds are created equal. What reds are you going to use to mix pink? How will you expand upon this chart? Or what color do you want to explore further? Let me know.
Another benefit of making color charts such as this one, is learning more about the primary color of red. Seeing the results of these mixtures helps you determine which two reds you want on your Two-Primary Palette.
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Gratefully and colorfully yours,
PS. For more information about how to mix color, please visit my online video course Acrylic Color Mixing Made Easy! site on the Craftsy platform or purchase my award-winning book “I Just Want to Paint: Mixing the Colors You Want!”