artist-paletteA picture is worth a thousand words and colors are the painter words and a way to convey emotions. Color mixing is responsible for bringing the painting to life, it breaks the monotony by making everything seem less repetitive, improving the composition and adding to the variety. Its importance can not be overestimated because learning to mix colors is art in its own right and often the main reason why some painters ( and their paintings) are considered great while others are only average. It is true that in order to master the art of mixing colors, one needs to get the feel of it and have a talent, but a lot of it can be learned by following certain tips.

While it is not quite like preparing an assignment because only the basics can be learned, while the rest of it depends on one’ s skills and imagination, here are some tips for color mixing:

Master the Basics of the Color Wheel
It’ s quite simple. There are three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Mixing red and yellow will give you orange, blue and yellow in combination give green, while red and blue give violet. These three derivative colors are called secondary colors, and added to primary colors they give tertiary colors. But that is not the end of it, as there are also tints and shades- tint being the variation of a certain color when mixed with white and shade its variation when mixed with black. It is advised to choose a palette of colors one is the most familiar with and practice until mixing them becomes a routine.

Make a Good use of Warm and Cool Colors
Warm colors bring with them associations connected with joy, energy, sunlight and fire, while cool colors are more commonly associated with shadows and they give a sense of calm. They are also used for creating the impression of depth with cool colors being perceived as adding depth to the painting.

Use Dark and Light Contrasts
It is important to know that one should always add dark to light colors and not the other way around because it takes a lot of light color to brighten what is dark so one runs the risk of running out of colors for one painting only.

Wait for a While Before Applying Colors
It is advised not to mix colors completely on a palette, waiting for the perfect blend, but to keep them separated for a while before applying them to the canvas because it will make a color more varied and nuanced.

Learn to Intermix
It is important to pre- mix all the colors one intends to use and then make adjustments throughout the process of painting. Doing that makes the process faster and colors more harmonious.
Use a Limited Number of Pigments
The reason why this painting strategy is advised is because it is known that the fewer pigments one uses, the brighter that painting will be. It’ s advisable to limit the number of pigments to two when mixing two colors.

Choose the Right Colors
Not all palettes are the same, some of them are more recommended than others, so it is important to do a good research in magazines, books, articles and find the one which is the most suitable. It is equally important to determine what kind of feelings one wants to transmit through the painting and find out which colors served that purpose for other painters. This article could be a good starting point when deciding which colors to use.

Mastering color theory is not complicated, one needs to learn only some basic rules and stick to them. What is important is to relax and think outside the box. Even if the combination of colors does not seem to fit, it is not a big deal, because the paint is not permanent. Think of these basic rules as guidelines. Within one context a certain combination will be the most suitable, while in other contexts it simply will not work. It’ s up to the painter to use artistic sensibility and determine which one will give the best results at any given time.

Mia Stokes

Author: Mia Stokes

My name is Mia. I am 23 and a graduate student at Western Sydney University. I have been keen on writing since childhood. Now, I am a young writer and this is my passion. My hobbies are travelling, painting and num-nums:) I am also into tennis and swimming since sports and staying physically active is very important for me.


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