Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tippette #3: Mixing your colors

Tippette = Snippet of a Tip (in watercolor).

Note: On Day 2 (yesterday) of posting my tippettes, I realized that you, my readers, are not able to post comments if you're receiving my posts via's a "no-reply" situation that you get.  As such, if you wish to send me a comment, please either visit my blog directly to post the comment, or email me at (and remember to use the K in the middle of my name or it won't come to me).  Thanks, and my apologies.  Now let's keep talking about Art!

What is the best way to mix your colors?

Off the top of my head, I'd say there are 3 basic ways that I mix and apply my paints.  Do you use other methods?  If so, I'll be glad to use them in future posts and give you credit!

1.  Painting one layer at a time (often called a "glaze", which you must allow to get totally dry before adding another layer or glaze), and letting the colors mix optically when you look at your painting.  I often paint several glazes over particular areas, either using the same colors if the first layer needs to be darker, or using a totally different color to achieve an optical effect (think blue over yellow = some shade of green depending on which shades of blue & yellow are used).

2.  Pre-mixing 2 or more pigments on your palette.  This, to me, creates a duller color, but sometimes it's just the RIGHT color that you were looking for.

3.  Putting down one color, and then dropping a 2nd (or 3rd) color into it while still wet (while allowing it to flow at will, or tilting the board to help it out).

In 1, I put down burnt sienna first and let it dry before painting Indigo over it as a second glaze (or wash).
In 2, I pre-mixed together burnt sienna and Indigo on my palette, resulting in this homogeneous green color!
In 3, I put down burnt sienna and while it was still very wet, I lightly brushed in (and tapped in with my brush) my Indigo.
In all 3 cases, I used equal amounts of both colors, although the burnt sienna predominates visually in the first and last. 
NOTE:  In case you're wondering, if I'm painting into a larger area (bigger than 1" maybe), I wet my paper first with clean water and allow it to soak in just a little bit.  Then I paint into it.

Which of these 3 methods is best?  The answer is: the one that you feel will do the job that you're about to tackle.  I use all three methods at some point, in almost every painting.  Today's exercise is to show you that you can get different effects from the same two colors, depending on how you tackle the application of the paint.  You should periodically practice these types of exercises in order to understand the phenomenon firsthand.
Come with Helen K. Beacham and Kelly Medford to paint Venice this October...
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