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Color Mixing Exercises

Practicing these color mixing exercises will help you develop some of the skills you need to produce just the exact hue you need for your painting.

Before working with the full range of your palette, you should familiarize yourself with the possibilities of each color.

First Color Mixing Exercise: Paint with 2 Colors

An excellent start is to take a warm and a cool color and do a complete painting limiting yourself to these two colors.

A good combination is Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna or French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber. You can use water color or oil. You must add white paint for oil. Of course, you could also practice with acrylic paints.

Improvise a landscape or build one from an outdoor sketch that you may have on hand.

Begin to paint the picture with blue as the cool color and brown as the warm.

In some areas you will use the colors pure; in others, they will be combined.

You will be amazed at how many color variations you can create with such a simple palette!

On top of that, you will discover the numerous shades of warm and cool grays you can create.

Second Color Mixing Exercise: Paint with 3 Colors

For the next exercise, use three colors and explore their possibilities.

Cobalt Blue, Light Red, and Yellow Ochre should allow you plenty of scope compared to the two-color exercise.

Again, add white paint if you use oils.

By painting the same subject used before, you will more readily realize the added possibilities of a third color.

Experiment along these lines by making up your own limited color combinations.

Add a fourth color, and so on, until you acquire a working knowledge of all the colors you plan to use on your palette.

One important point will become apparent: The fewer colors you use, the easier it is to obtain color harmony.

Every time a new color is added the risk of creating discord is increased.

More Color Theory Links:

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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