How to Mix Paint, Well

Since my last post was talking about the difference in paints. I wanted to touch on how to properly mix them. With that said, there isn’t really a “proper” way to mix them, it’s more about knowing what to mix together.

If you’ll recall in my color theory post, I mention warm vs. cool colors. It’s good to know about them so you don’t get the wrong colors mixed together and end up with an ugly color.

I can’t tell you how to set up your painting area, but I can tell you how to select your paints. To do this it’s more about sight and knowing what you’re looking at. (Yes I will drill this into your head.) Before you even begin to paint you must pick out your color scheme. It doesn’t matter what you’re painting, or how it’s going to look, but knowing what you’re going to be doing. Always plan ahead. Good life lesson too, no?

I love Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, so I’ll use this one as an example. The main color scheme here is obviously blue, although not monochromatic (analogous). Just looking at this you can probably tell she used 2 different kinds of blue, black, orange, yellow, and white. Maybe some more, maybe some less, but you get the picture. If you are painting from real life, or from a photo, it’s always good to study your subject first. If only to understand what colors you would be working with. Not only that, but to decide whether you need warm colors or cool colors. Here, obviously it’s mostly cool colors—being blue. But also remember that not all cool colors are considered cool and vice versa.

Take yellow ochre as an example.

This image makes it look a little warmer that it actually is (or maybe that’s just my monitor). But I never use this particular yellow in warm color schemes. It simply doesn’t mix well.

You may never know whether a particular color is warm or cool by just looking at it either. Sometimes you just have to try it out. Be sure to test it out on a palette first. Don’t immediately start painting with it! Also, don’t be afraid of wasting paint (but don’t excessively use it either).

Happy painting!

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