Mar 23, 2010

Palette Pointer

By Sharon Teal-Coray

Just starting out learning how to mix colors is sometimes very overwhelming. I know, when I first started it looked like a task that I would never grasp as there were so many colors one could mix. However, I was determined that I was going to do it. I went to the art store purchased a few sketch books. Every night for months I would sit with my husband in our TV room and mix colors while we watched our favorite shows. I recorded them in the sketch books. I bet I mixed every color possible!


What was interesting was that as I did this I found that the more time I spend at this the better I could “see” and identify colors. I was training my eyes to really see the colors. I think if one takes a class on mixing, this gives that person a good start to learning how to mix but the secret to really being able to pick up a bottle of paint and duplicate it to a tee is what mixing is all about. This comes with lots of practice and training your eyes to see!
I do have a few suggestions for the beginner to get started that may make it easier.
1. Mix single pigments, this makes it easier to get the colors you want. If you are using a color that is a mixture like the bottled paints you may have two or more colors in that bottle and so the results may be completely different that what you are trying to mix. For example let’s say you want an intense, bright purple, if you choose a red and a blue in a bottled paint to mix it,  you may get a red and blue that has grey added which would cut the brightness down and you would not be able to mix the vibrant color you want. If you have two pure colors that are single pigments then you will get a beautiful bright purple. Check the bottle or tube and make sure there is only one pigment in it before using it to learn how to mix colors. Once you have learned how to mix the basic colors then you can start to use these colors because you will understand what they will do.

2. You can over mix your colors, especially oils; this was something I had to learn the hard way. The more you mix oils the less intense they look, it can be a very interesting to see what you get on the canvas if you don’t mix the colors completely, you will have colors that look slightly different .

3. Mix the opaque color into the transparent one. The transparent colors are weaker so the opaque color will influence it more.

4. Start out with small amounts when mixing; watch the colors as you add more to see the subtle changes that take place.

5. Don’t’ be afraid of mixing “mud” if you do simply add the first color you started with until you can see a “color” Save these for basing and toning .

6. Know that you are doing this to train your eyes; it will take some time, patience and paints. You have to use enough paints so you can mix and record the color, don’t be skimpy.

7. Use a large area to mix on!

I think that learning how to mix colors can take forever; you can always discover a new color, tine or shade. Embrace the learning process; this is a challenge if you learn a few fundamentals you will be off into a wonderful world of color mixing.

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