Colour mixing using Oil paint.
Colour mixing can be fascinating, fun or frustrating, depending on your interest, knowledge or experience. We hope this section will be of help and interest to those who wish to expand their knowledge of colour mixing with oil paint.
The trouble with most 'colour wheels' is, they show the colours but not the name of a paint that represents that colour. To find out which paint represents the various colours, try the following options. Read the manufactures information, books on colour, other peoples advice or some detective work yourself. You will learn far more if you take the time to experiment with the tubes of paint.
Throughout these colour mixing examples Lefranc and Bourgeois Artist quality, is the paint used. They are all single pigment colours. In the first six examples Titanium White is mixed in from the top left hand corner to show the 'tint' of the Primary colours.
Two Primary Yellows:Flanders Yellow - leans towards green. Sahara Yellow - leans towards orange.
Two Primary Blues:
Prussian Blue - leans towards green. Ultramarine Deep - leans towards violet.
Two Primary Reds:
Ruby Red - leans towards violet. Japanese Red Deep - leans towards orange.
Flanders Yellow and Prussian Blue
The square of green has: Yellow Green in the top left corner and Blue Green in the bottom right corner.
To make the Secondary colour Orange:
Sahara Yellow and Japanese Red Deep
The square of orange has: Yellow Orange in the top right hand corner and Red Orange in the bottom left hand corner.
Ruby Red and Ultramarine Deep
The square of violet has: Red Violet in the top right hand corner and Blue Violet in the bottom left hand corner.
Copyright Jacqui Blackman © 1999
If we make our Orange as above with Sahara Yellow and Japanese Red Deep, depending how much Red we add we will have an Orange that is Yellow Orange, Orange or Red Orange, in this instance we will aim for
Red Orange. It's opposite on the colour wheel is Prussian Blue. If we now mix these together we will make a neutral colour.
Notice as you look at these three colours, how the orange and blue seem to vibrate as they contrast with each other. Pulling your eyes first to orange then to blue, the colour in the middle, the result of neutralizing the two colours, seeming to be ignored.
To make this neutral colour, we have in actual fact mixed together three Primary colours. Mixing three primary's will give a 'dark' or neutral colour, but the quantity of each colour matters. You could just mix these three primary's together and produce a colour, but in a months time say, will you remember how much of each or just waste paint trying? Whereas to make that Red Orange again is not too hard and by adding Prussian Blue you can make the neutral colour. By using the principals of the colour wheel we have more control over the resultant colour.
This time it's blue violet made from Ruby Red and Ultramarine mixed with Sahara Yellow, again opposite on the colour wheel and only three pigments. Try the different combinations yourself, it's interesting and helpful learning. Titanium White is coming in from top left to show the 'tint' of the new colour. What could the colour be used for? Rusty metal, weathered wood or part of an old stone building, whatever you choose.
From the original six Primary colours we have made six Secondary colours and using just opposites, six neutral colours. If we now bring Black into the mixing process we have even more choices. Ivory Black is very useful, try mixing with each of the Primary colours, you can obtain some very interesting two pigment neutrals. (see Tonal values)
Two Pigment Neutrals:
Japanese Red and Ivory Black will give this, T W coming in top left to show the 'tint'.
Ultramarine Deep and Ivory Black will give this, T W coming in top left to show the 'tint'.
As children we use to play, we played to learn. As adults we don't always play very much, try 'playing' with paint using adult perception to learn. Learn to play then you'll play to learn. It also puts the fun back into what can seem the very serious learning process of colour mixing.
About Making Mud!
It can be very easy to make 'mud', but what is 'mud'? The 'muddy' colour produced is dreary, dirty and drab. One sure way to make 'mud' is to mix too many different pigments together. If we understand what makes 'muddy' colour, then we are part way to understanding how to make clean colour.
In the neutral colour mix above three primary's were used: Sahara Yellow, Japanese Red and Prussian Blue. The colour pigment used in making the tube of paint is shown on the label, represented by the pigment number and chemical name. (for properties of oil paint)
Sahara Yellow = PY65 Azo Yellow; Japanese Red Deep = PR3 Azo Red; Prussian Blue = PB27 Ferric ferrocyanide
If we make this colour using a yellow made with two pigments e.g. an orange and a yellow. A red made with three pigments e.g. two different reds and a violet. A blue made with two pigments e.g. a blue and a green.
If you are finding it easy to make mud, check on the label for the pigment content of your paint and try working with the
thought - less pigments = less mud.
Another point to remember, you may want to add Black or White to the colour you've made - adding more pigments. White is not usually a problem, but Black is often blamed for muddying colours, by using a single pigment black (Ivory/Mars) the chances of this happening are greatly reduced. The argument still goes on about having black on the palette - the choice is yours.
Copyright Jacqui Blackman © 1999