artists who know how to mix colors will save money at the paint store

Learn how to mix colors and buy fewer colors. We can save ourselves money by mixing our own colors.

How often have we bought a color that we used a few times? Then it just sits in our paint box. Later, we may throw it out when we move on to other colors. Speaking from experience, we've all done it.

We can mix our own colors instead of keeping a box full of colors that we may or may not use.

Color is the joy and excitement of painting! With a little practice, color mixing will become second nature.

Learn how to mix paint colors with artist Carol MayColor is the joy of painting!

how to mix colors

The color wheel is a favorite tool of the painting artists. It is indispensable when we are learning how to mix colors.

can we mix the primary colors?

  • The primary colors cannot be mixed from other colors.

However, all the other colors are based on and can be mixed from the three primary colors; yellow, red and blue.

We learn how to mix colors by practice. Practice with three colors.

  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Cadmium Red
  • Ultramarine Blue

Oil and acrylic painters will also use, Titanium White.

The color wheel is the artist's best friend for mixing colors.Learn how to mix colors with the primaries.

Color Mixing Tip - Single pigment paints produce clean, clear colors. Look on the paint tubes and make sure they are made with only one color pigment.

Most manufactures list the ingredients on the tube. If they are not there, check their website.

practice mixing the secondary colors

  • Get your paint colors out and mix the secondary colors. It's fun and you will be surprised how easy it is.

Two primary colors mixed together create a secondary color. The secondary colors are orange, green and violet.

Now we see that we don't have to buy orange or violet colors. But what about the greens? We can mix them, too.

Mix two primary colors together to get a secondary color.How to mix the secondary colors

how to mix green colors

Blue and yellow mixed together make the secondary color, green.

Thalo Blue is a very strong blue that is not on our practice list. However, it makes the most beautiful greens. Ultramarine Blue and yellow make quieter greens.

How to mix green colors by artist Carol MayMixing green colors

Use just a touch of blue with your primary yellow to mix a green.

Then mix more greens.

  • Add more yellow for a spring green.
  • Add more blue to your original green for a cool blue-green.
  • The addition of red will produce a darker, more subdued green.

We can mix additional greens with other blues and yellows.

Color Mixing Tip - When you are learning how to mix colors, always add the dark color to the lighter color. It only takes a tiny bit of a dark color to change a light color.


what are tertiary colors?

  • Learn more about how to mix colors by mixing the six tertiaries.

Tertiary colors are created by mixing a primary color with a secondary color.

Going clock-wise around the color wheel, we have; yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange and yellow-orange.

We have the secondary colors on our palette that we just mixed. Practice mixing them with a primary color to get the tertiaries.

We can mix the tertiary colors.How to mix the tertiary colors.

See the Example in the image above. Mix orange with yellow and you get the tertiary yellow-orange.

Mix the other five tertiaries in a similar manner.

Color Mixing Tip - Don't mix paint colors thoroughly before you put them on your painting. The variety will give more interest to your paintings.


what are  hues, shades, tones and tints?

Hue is the type or name of a color. For example, apple red or fire engine red are both red hues. Olive green is a green hue.

Shade is any color mixed with black. A shade becomes darker and duller than the original color.

Tones are made by mixing a color with grey.

Tints are made by mixing a color with white. However, adding white to a color will give it a chalky appearance.

Color Mixing Tip - Rather than using white to lighten a color, add the lighter color next to it on the color wheel. The color will remain bright and lively without a chalky appearance. For example, lighten orange by adding yellow.

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How to mix colors that look more natural

There are a couple of different ways to subdue a color and make it look more natural.

  • Mix it with some of its complimentary color.
  • Mix it with a neutral color like black, brown or grey.

what are complimentary colors?

Complimentary colors are the colors directly across from each other on the color wheel.

How to mix dark paint colors from your artist palette.The compliment of red is green.

The compliment of any primary color is always a secondary color. The secondary is a mixture of two primaries.

So when we mix a primary with its compliment, we are actually mixing the three primary colors together.

Example - Green is a combination of blue and yellow, so mixing red and green combines all three primary colors.

how do we mix dark, neutral colors?

Mix black, brown or grey by combining the three primary colors. There two ways to mix our dark colors.

  • Mix equal parts of the three primary colors.
  • Mix one part of a primary color with two parts of its complimentary color. (This also is mixing the three primaries together.)

Color Mixing Tip - Mix our neutral colors from the colors used in the painting. They will harmonize with the rest of the painting.

mix more grey colors

  • Mixing white with any of our dark, neutral colors will create various tints of grey. We can get a large variety of greys depending on what colors were used to make our original grey.

We don’t buy tubes of grey paint. It's so easy because we know how to mix colors.

Color Mixing Tip - When we start a painting, mix a large pile of a dark, neutral color mixed from the colors we have selected for the painting.

When we are painting, add white to the dark color to make various tints of grey. Then we may use the greys or the original dark color to subdue colors in the painting.

This produces color harmony because all the colors in the painting are related. Plus, we won't have to keep mixing our greys and darks again throughout the painting process.

simple, quick dark mixtures

Mixing dark paint colors from your artist's palette.Mix your dark colors
  • Viridian Green and Alizarin Crimson make black.

Additional Viridian or Alizarin will slant the black toward green or red.

  • Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue are a very useful mixture.

Add more Ultramarine to make a cool black. Use more Burnt Sienna for a warm brown.

Color Mixing Tip - Mix paint colors with a palette knife, instead of a brush. It will use less paint.


how to use color in your paintings

Colors may be considered warm or cool. Warm colors contain yellow and cool colors contain blue.

How to use warm and cool colors in your paintings.Warm and Cool Colors

warm colors

  • Use warm colors in the foreground and middle ground of a painting.

Warm colors are known to "advance" toward us. They make areas of an object look closer.

For example, if you are painting an orange, the center of the orange that is bulging toward us. It should be painted warmer to make it advance toward the viewer.

The sides of the orange would be painted cooler to make them turn away from us.

  • How do we mix warm paint colors?

We can make any color warmer by adding yellow. Mix the color with yellow or orange, which contains yellow.

cool colors

  • Cool colors recede in the painting and look farther away.

We can create distance in landscapes by mixing some blue into the background areas.

Make the edge of an object turn away from us by adding cool colors to the edge. We may use cool colors to set one object behind another.

  • We can cool colors by mixing blue with the color. We may also, mix them with green or purple because they contain blue.

professional artists know how to mix colors

Many top-notch painting artists use a double primary palette. Instead of three primaries, they have a warm and cool version of each primary color. This makes the mixing process faster and easier.

All their additional colors are mixed from their six colors and white. It sure saves on keeping so many paint colors in stock.

Learning to how mix colors is one of the joys being of an artist!

make your paintings sing with color!



more about color

  • Choosing Artist Paint

    How to choose the best artist paint for your palette. Single pigment paint colors in a warm and cool version of the six rainbow colors are an excellent choice.

  • Choose Paint Colors for each painting

    How do professionals choose colors for their paintings? Learn how to choose paint colors for each painting. Create beautiful paintings with only 3 or 4 colors.

  • Artist Color Wheel

    The artist color wheel is their best friend and favorite tool. We use primary, secondary, tertiary, warm, cool and complimentary colors for successful paintings.

  • Painting Color Schemes

    Master your painting color schemes with the secrets of color selection. Learn how artists take the stress of choosing the paint colors for their art paintings.