I am often asked, “Do you REALLY only use six primaries on your working palette?” Yes, that is correct. If I am working in oils or acrylics, then I do add white.
Which six primaries are they? The choice is personal for every painter. The important decision is making sure you have strategically chosen two yellows, two blues and two reds. I call this a Balanced Palette, because it truly is well balanced much like the four tires on your car. This color mixing concept is the core message of my forthcoming book I Just Want to Paint: Mixing the Colors You Want!
Many painters use only six primaries when they paint, but they refer to them as the ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ of each primary. I find these terms — warm and cool — confusing and not relevant to mixing color. I prefer to call them: orange-yellow, green-yellow, green-blue, violet-blue, violet-red and orange-red. With these adjectives added as descriptors, isn’t it much easier to see the color leanings of each primary?
Recently, I painted a 12″x12″ landscape with the intent of using a yellow and purple color scheme. The below photo shows you how I laid out my six primary colors before starting on this painting. Starting in the lower left, I squirted out my green-yellow. Then going around clockwise, you see my orange -yellow, orange-red, violet-red, violet-blue and green-blue. There is NO magic in the way I squirt out my paints out, and there is not right or wrong way to do it. Do what is comfortable for you. [Read more…]