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

You can buy fewer colors when you know how to mix paint colors. Color mixing will be second nature for you. Color is the joy and excitement of painting!

what is color?

The light that bounces off of an object is its color. The remaining light rays are absorbed by the object.

For example, a green object bounces green and absorbs the other colors.

When light passes thru a prism it is divided into the seven colors of light; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Learn how to mix paint colors with artist Carol MayUnderstanding color makes painting fun!



how to mix paint colors

  • Today we will use the color wheel and learn how to mix paint colors.

The color wheel is a favorite tool of artists. It shows how colors relate to each other. We use it when we choose paint colors for our art palettes and when we select colors for our paintings.


can we mix primary colors?

The color wheel is the artist's basis of mixing colorsThe Primary Colors; yellow, blue and red
  • No, primary colors cannot be mixed from other colors.

The primary colors, yellow, blue and red are equally spaced around the color wheel.

All the other colors are a combination of the primary colors.

We can mix the other colors from the three primaries.

Then we can save money at the paint store because we know how to mix paint colors.

* Tip - Single pigment paint mixtures produce clean colors. Look at the ingredients on your paint tubes.

How to choose the best paint colors for your palette


mix the secondary colors

Mix two primary colors together to get a secondary color.Mix the secondary colors
  • Get your paint colors out and mix the secondary colors.

Two primary colors mixed together will give you a secondary color.

The secondary colors are orange, green and violet.

It's fun and you will be surprised how easy it is.

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

* Tip - You will save paint when you mix paint colors with a palette knife.


what are shades, tones and tints?

  • Add black to any color to make its shade. It becomes darker and duller than the original color.
  • Tones are made by mixing grey with a color.
  • We make tints by mixing white with any color.

However, adding white to a color will give it a chalky appearance.

* Tip - Lighten a color by adding the lighter color next to it on the color wheel. The color will remain bright and lively without a chalky appearance. For example, to lighten orange, add yellow.


how to mix black, brown or grey

A mixture of the primary colors gives us our dark colors.

Mix the primary colors together for greys, blacks and browns.Mix the primaries to get dark colors.

There two ways to mix your dark colors.

  • Mix equal parts of the three primary colors.

  • Mix two complimentary colors. Mix one part of a primary color with two parts of its compliment.

* Tip - When you are starting a painting, mix a large pile of a dark color from the colors you have selected for the painting.

Then when you are painting you may add white to your dark color for various shades of grey. You may also use the dark or greys to subdue colors in your painting.

This will keep color harmony in your painting. Plus you won't have to keep mixing your greys and darks again throughout the painting process.


what are complimentary colors?

How to mix dark paint colors from your artist palette.Look across the color wheel to find the compliment of any color.
  • Complimentary colors are any colors directly across from each other on the color wheel.

The compliment of any primary color is always a secondary color that is a combination 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 the three primary colors.

* Tip - When you want darks, mix paint colors from the colors you are using in the painting. This way the dark colors will harmonize with the rest of the painting.


easy 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 is a very useful mixture.

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


mixing grey colors

  • Mixing white with any of your dark colors will give you a grey.

You can get a large variety of greys depending on what colors made the dark.

So, don’t buy tubes of grey paint. It's so easy you know how to mix paint colors.


how to mix greens

Blue and yellow mixed together make green.

How to mix green colors by artist Carol MayMixing green colors

Thalo Blue is a very strong color. Use just a touch of it with your primary yellow to mix a beautiful green.

You may adjust your green;

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

Mix other blues and yellows for a variety of greens. For example, Ultramarine Blue and yellow make quieter greens.

When you are learning how to mix paint 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.





how to use color in your paintings

warm colors

Warm colors contain yellow.Warm colors contain yellow.
  • 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 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.

* Tip - How to mix paint colors that are warm.

Any color containing yellow is considered warm.

We mix warm colors with the primary color yellow or the secondary color orange because it contains yellow.


cool colors

Cool colors contain blue.Cool colors contain blue.
  • 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 also use cool colors to set one object behind another.

Cool colors make your paintings peaceful and relaxing.

* Tip - How to mix paint colors that feel cool.

Colors containing blue are considered cool colors. When you want a cool color, mix paint colors with blue.

You may also mix a color with the secondary colors green or purple because they contain blue.



why spend money on paint colors you can mix?

  • Do it like the professionals. You know how to mix paint colors.

Some top-notch painting artists use a limited palette of the primaries, plus white. They mix their other colors from the limited palette.

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

  • Practice mixing colors and make your paintings sing with color.

may you have many successful paintings!


more color

  • Artist Paint for your palette

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Art Prints for Sale

    Fine art prints for sale by the artist Carol May. Enjoy the beauty of landscapes, seascapes, flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds, and many interesting critters.



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