Category Archives: Favorite Paint Mixtures
When I first began taking painting classes taught by Danni Dawson, I remember her saying what a helpful paint cerulean blue was. I remember this because I remember thinking at the time, “what does she see in it?”, because I had a tube of it and hardly ever used the color when I would squeeze some out.
Instead the squeezed out paint was more destined to dry out untouched on my palette than ever be touched by a paint brush.
At the time, I favored cobalt turquoise more whenever I would need a blue-green. I still love using cobalt turquoise, however in this past year I have grown to love the soft, semi-opaque quality of cerulean blue.
Cerulean blue because it is a softer blue can be mixed to create some wonderful atmospheric effects. And in skies I think it is a color that really excels when you want to recreate the subtle blues that fade to greenish-blues as the sky moves closer to the horizon.
Cerulean also mixes so well with its neighbors on the color wheel, that if a blue needs to be deepened or shifted ever so slightly, it is almost always better to try it first with cerulean rather than the more opaque cobalt turquoise
Cerulean Blue (PG 35) is a semi-opaque, granular pigment, that is soft and subtle, and mixes so well with its neighboring colors on the color wheel. What I have grown to love about this pigment is how it shifts and slides from being a rich greenish-blue in it pure state to soft mixtures of blues, purples, or greens.
This is a color that requires a bit of finesse in using it because it is a granular pigment. Just play around with a true cerulean blue in watercolors to really see how granular it is when laying down washes, however it is this quality that also lends it its velvety texture in oil paint, something to be cherished and used to its maximum effect.
In the past year I have switched from using the Winsor & Newton Cerulean Blue to the Blue Ridge Cerulean Blue, which are both semi-opaque paints, however I prefer how the Blue Ridge is more creamy and soft. Also to note, the Williamsburg Oil Colors Cerulean Blue is an opaque pigment as it comes out of the tube and to achieve the quality I have grown to like so much, you need to mix it with some medium like stand oil to get the semi-opaque quality.
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With spring flowers blooming in abundance and as I begin to bring them into the studio to paint, I realize that Permanent Rose is one of my go to paint colors when my subject matter involves flowers. I love its bright rosy color, its transparent quality without being overly strong and staining.
This quinacridone pigment (PV19) is one versatile color. It also happens to be my favorite color to mix with neighboring reds, oranges, and yellows when I want a vibrant color but also want to allow for subtle shifts in value and tone.
In my opinion, it may be the hardest working paint during the spring and summer season.
For my examples today, I thought I would share floral images to reinforce how helpful Permanent Rose is when mixing the correct shades of pink, magenta, and lavender. Permanent Rose is somewhat cool in its pure form, however it mixes especially well with yellows and oranges to emulate the glowing affects of yellow sunlight shining through translucent pink flower petals.
Permanent Rose is also a stellar color to select when you want to mix warm glowing oranges. I have found that when I want a particularly saturated orange, I often do not use cadmium orange but a mixture of Cad Lemon or Cad Yellow Lt and Permanent Rose, to achieve the glowing bright orange I am after. Permanent Rose also mixes well with Burnt Sienna, so when a muted orange is required you will be able to mix a softened, less saturated orange that still has an earthy warmth to it.
In the previous two examples I shared how Permanent Rose shifts warm rather easily, however the nice thing about this particular pigment is that it also shifts cool into the purples and blues with ease. Some of the most luscious purples come from mixtures with any of the Cobalt blues, turquoises, and greens. And when you use a high concentration of Permanent Rose mixed with medium, this pigment will create some beautiful effects as a glaze.
Permanent Rose is a transparent, a quinacridone violet pigment, that is strong and clear, and makes lovely mid-tone pinks. I love how it mixes with other paints, those similar in color as well as its complementary colors. It makes really deep blacks/purples when when mixed with viridian. I have found that is color is amazing in how versatile it is. When I used to paint the figure more often, it was almost always a color I relied on to add the rosy blush to a fair-skinned model. And now that I paint so many flowers, it is a color I always make sure to have on my palette.
Interested in exploring more about paint and color? I teach online classes that are all dedicated at learning how to improve your paint handling by focusing on mixing colors and learning about color theory. Each class is 4-weeks long and taken at the convenience of your own schedule and in your own home or studio.
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Permanent Green a relatively new addition to my palette, it was added around six months ago, as an experiment, and it has since become one of the hardest working pigments on my palette…
Permanent Green, (PG 36, PY 74) is the modern substitute for the original Cadmium Green Med that has been discontinued by so many manufacturers. Early on in my painting classes, I would hear how wonderful Cad Green Med was, but not knowing any difference and also liking what I could do with Cadmium Green Lt (WN) there was never a need to go investigate. Then last year, I began the Bountiful Observations series, and the need to know and understand more green mixtures became important.
And now that we are entering spring, and life is beginning to peak out of the ground, and buds will be blossoming soon, I thought it would be a good thing to introduce my favorite hardworking green that mixes so well… these six mixtures are just the beginning. I love how this color mixes with black and oranges also.
The thing that permanent green does best is support and emphasize the color it is mixing with, so when you mix it with blues, you are able to attain the soft blue-greens of the leaves and stems from flowering bulbs. And I think when mixed with other greens, like viridian, it just deepens the green without turning it too “electric” green. And being a semi-transparent pigment, I like to skim this green over a permanent rose or aliz. crimson underpainting, for the shadow areas.
See how cool this green can go when mixed with the different blues, but how it warms up and glows yellow-green when mixed with the cadmium yellow. This color also mixes well with cad. lemon, and cad. yellow lt, and I particularly also like it mixed with indian yellow, because you get a very transparent and staining rich yellow-green.
When working on a landscape, this green can be added to colors to bring it forward or push it backwards, hyping up its color saturation or neutralizing it depending on whether it is mixed with a analogous color or compliment. Permanent green falls into a warm temperature of the greens available because of its yellowish cast when strait out of the tube, but I find it adapts well, and even mixes well with a third color.
I love Permanent Green because of its ability to adapt and mix with other pigments.
Permanent Green is a semi-transparent bold middle value green. It shifts warm or cool depending on what you mix it with, and will mix with compliment reds to create a variety of deep and diverse darks, not quite mixing to a black, but rich neutralized purples.
The Permanent Green I have been using most is made by Blue Ridge Oil Colors, I like how it stays open and the thick creamy consistency of the paint.
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For this post about favorite paint mixtures, I want to spotlight a great supporting member of my paint palette. Dioxazine Purple is just such a paint color.
As a leading role I think it is too extreme and staining, but where you desire transparency and nuance, this is just the paint to rely on. I think dio. purple mixtures lend the most effective results when mixed strait into other strait pigments, creating visually interesting and deep colors that support a painting in the dark passages.
If I were to paint this scene, I think I would play up the complementary color palette of yellow and purple, and cool down the shadows to purples and blues, while warming up the yellows and oranges. This scene shows a lot of the color transition zones that occur when a color is naturally shifting to its complement. See how some of the glowing orange leaves seem to have blueish shadow shapes where the veins of the leaves are…
When painting a scene like this, I like to place a lot of purple and deep-red under layers where all the greens would eventually go, especially in the background trees. I think this helps establish a sense of space in a two dimensional painting. For the cast shadows, I see some of the shadows that could shift blueish-purple, making the sunlit areas seem even more warm and bright.
This is an excellent example where I relied on a mixture of dio purple and transparent orange to create the nuanced effect of a three dimensional tree branch. And because both colors are transparent, the mixture visually rolls back into space, maximizing the nature of the pigment in color and value and also in thickness of texture as transparent colors are also not so bulky.
Though I use dio purple most in the dark areas straight, there are times when mixing it with white and other colors produces some beautiful, soft pastels that are so helpful when painting flowers…
All the pinks, sliding to purple are great places to use dio. purple. For the stem mixtures I would probably knock down the browns a little more towards the grays on the lighter areas of the branches, but these would still be good jumping off points…
I love dioxazine purple for its deep value and transparent qualities.
Dio purple is a transparent, cool, and brilliant purple, that is a strong staining pigment that can go a little crazy at times, but mixes well with transparent and opaques. The practice it takes to get used to working with this color is worth it.
I encourage you to go out and see how many places you can use this color, start with a small amount on your brush because this color goes along way. Play around mixing puddles of paint and then applying it to your compositions, you may find some deep darks that really enliven your work.
Here are closeup images of each mixture:
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Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite paint mixtures with Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and in this post I will also share how very flexible this color is, by being able to mix well into dark neutrals, middle value saturated or desaturated colors, or bright highlights, all depending on the amount of white you use.
A few months ago, I came up with the idea of creating a series of blog posts that cover some of my favorite paint mixtures, for days like today, when I do not have a new painting to share, because I still want share my love of art and how it is integrated into how I see the world.
Here are three scenes that all can have mixtures of alizarin crimson incorporated into them, if I were to paint them.
For the background grays, I would probably neutralize the grays a bit more, however one of my favorite blacks in oil paint is a pure mixture of straight aliz. crimson and phthalo green, and if I want to push it more green, I add a bit more green, and vice versa if the “black” needs to have more red in it…
When I brought home this flower arrangement, I was totally struck by how beautiful the purple stock were. I remember imagining mixing variants of cobalt green and cobalt turquoise lt with aliz crimson and permanent rose to create the perfect purples and violets I was seeing. I find that some of the most beautiful purples are not derived from purple paint at all, but are mixed…. do you ever look at a scene and begin to mix color in your mind? I do all the time…
One of the amazing side affects of mixing aliz crimson with a warm yellow, like cad. yellow lt, is that immediately the saturation of the two colors gets knocked down some, where when mixing aliz crimson with cad red the color becomes more full, enhancing the colors without losing any need for more saturation.
I love alizarin crimson for how versatile this pigment is.
Alizarin crimson is a transparent, cool, brilliant red, that has a strong staining characteristic, so it mixes well with other transparent pigments and also with opaques. In fact I really love some of the colors that result from mixing it with opaques like Cad. Yellow or Cad. Red, because you get a really rich, full bodied color that has strong covering attributes while also incorporating some of the subtleties that arise from working with a transparent color.
I use Permanent Alizarin Crimson made by Blue Ridge Oil Colors because I love how long this paint stays open compared to Winsor & Newton’s version that will develop a skin within one day. Also it is always a good idea to pay the extra money for the “permanent” version of this paint because the regular alizarin crimson is a fugitive color and will oxidize towards a brown red eventually.
Here are closeup images of each mixture:
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