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Choosing a Basic Palette and How to use it. Acrylic Painting Tips.

acrylic Acrylic painting Art Blog colour charts colour mixing how to paint painting advice

Help there are so many colours to choose from! How do I decide? 

Just starting out or maybe you want to take your paints with you on holiday but you only have limit space.

Let me help you decide by showing you a basic palette of six colours and white that you can use to mix all the colours you will need.

First off why would you want to use a limit palette?

There are several advantages, just plain saving money. Quality paint isn't cheap so the less tubes you need to buy the better.

Your painting will harmonise a lot more easily with less colours involved.

You will learn to mix your own colours and really understand them.

Makes it simple to remember how to recreate a look in a painting if you don't have to remember tons of colours.

Want to paint and travel, less to carry.

It's better to start small and really get to know your colours and what you can do with them. As you get more experienced in your painting you will know which colours you use the most that you have to mix often. Then you might decide to buy that colour for convenience. This way you are not wasting money on colours you hardly ever use.

 So here are the colours you will need, you will need a warm and a cool of each of the three primary colour. That is - warm red, cool red, warm yellow, cool yellow, cool blue, warm blue and white.

The colours I used are.

Warm red = Napthol red light, 6

Cool red = Quinacridone magenta ( if you want those lovely clear bright purples then I suggest you stick to this colour) 5

Warm yellow = Cadmium yellow medium 1

Cool yellow = Cadmium yellow light 2

Warm Blue = Ultramarine blue 4

Cool Blue = Pthaolo Blue 3

I would stick to the blues suggested and the Quinacridone but the rest is interchangeable with other colours. eg. Any lemon yellow would be fine for the cool yellow. The numbers are for the colour chart you are going to make.

Now what to do with them? We are going to make a colour chart. This way you can really see how to mix any colour you need. Now you might think, but I already know that if I mix Yellow and red I will get orange. But do you know how to mix a bright, clear orange instead of a dull one? This exercise will show you and when you have finished not only will you have a good understanding of you palette but you will also have a handy colour reference chart so you can always mix that colour again.

Now here comes the tricky part trying to explain how to mix the colours. I think it would be a lot easier to show you so I have made a video.

 First put you colours in the circles. I have numbered these to make it easy on the colour chart for mixing so you don't have to write the name of the paint down every time.

First we will mix the secondary brights ( Clear, bright colours mixed from the primary colours)

Mix number 2 with number 3 to make a clear bright green. Put the colours in the boxes as above.

Mix 1 with 6 to make bright orange, put in boxes.

Mix 5 with 4 to make bright purple,put in boxes.

Now we move on to the secondary desaturated colours. I have just called them dull colour as it's easier.( Less saturated dull looking colour mixed from primary colours)

Mix 1 and 4 for a dull green

Mix 2 and 5 for a dull orange

Mix 6 and 4 for a dull purple

Put these in the boxes with the colour used to mix them as you did above. Notice the difference to the colour by just mixing a different red  with a different blue etc.

Now we move on to the tertiary colours these are made by mixing the secondary colours  together. 

First the bright tertiary colours

Mix the bright green with the bright orange to get a brown.

Mix the bright green with the bright purple to get a blue/grey

Mix the bright orange with the bright purple to get a warm brown

Put all the colours in your colour boxes.

Now for desaturated tertiary colours 

mix the dull green with the dull orange for another brown

Mix the dull orange with dull purple for a dark brown

Mix the dull green with the dull purple for a black.

Put all the colours in the boxes.

While you are still getting used to colour mixing this chart will be your best friend so don't just read about , give it a go. There is nothing like actually doing something to really learn it.

 In my video I have compared some popular tube colours to those on the chart so you can see how these colours compare.

Click here if you want to watch the video.

Let me know if you give this a go and if you found anything surprising to you. Colour mixing is fun!





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