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Mixing your own Blacks for Acrylic Painting

colour mixing how to paint painting advice

Want to know how to mix your own blacks or dark's for your painting so that the colour harmonisers with the rest of your picture.

Now I know some artists are pretty hot on the topic of not ever using black paint from the tube as it will "kill the painting" Personally I think if Black paint works for you go right ahead. I prefer to mix my own for a couple of reasons

1: When I mix my own from the colours I use in the painting I think it blends in and harmonies better.

2: One less tube of paint to buy and have on my palette.

3: I can get different shades of black for different effects. 

4: Every time I mix my own colours I am learning more about those colours and how they react together. This improves my painting overall.

5: I am never left short if I run out or forget to take a colour with me because I know how to mix my own.

6: I can add surrounding colours to further increase the feeling of harmony. 

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Mixing your own can be tricky unless you follow your colour chart. In theory if you mix equal quantities of red, yellow and blue you get black. In reality you very often get some weird brown colour. But if you start off with a secondary colour and mix what isn't in that, it is easier.

For example  :

The tried and true mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. Burnt Sienna is like an orange so the colour that's not in orange is blue.

I love this dark for a lot of my landscapes as I use those colours in them anyway. I can push it more blue(cool) or brown(warm) depending on the colours I'm putting it next to.

In contrast it's not the dark I would choose for a lot of my flower paintings it just doesn't work as well with these for me. I use Permanent  Alizarine and Pthalo Green mix for those paintings more often than not.

Again it's a secondary colour (green) mixed with a colour not in the mix. Alizarine being a Red. You can add more red to get a lovely dark perfect for ladybugs and any red based flowers ( So red, orange or pink all work). Or push it more green, perfect for leaves.  Also these two colours are both transparent colours so the colour of your flowers will shine thru when applied as a thin layer. 

I would suggest you get out your paints and have a play with mixing your dark's. Make a colour chart to hang on your wall for easy reference. Try different browns with your blues. Ultramarine Blue with Burnt umber will give you a darker black than your Burnt Sienna.

Or different blues with your oranges or browns. Such as Permanent orange and Cerulean Blue will give you a lovely dark grey that's very opaque.

What I find is you end up getting so much more choice in the type of black or dark's rather than just having whats in the tube or trying to buy a whole lot of different tubes of black paint. 

On my colour chart I have added White to make a grey with each black so I can see how it will look. This is my working chart I have on my wall for easy reference so it's not that tidy as I add to it as I find new mixes. Don't forget to write down the colours you used so you can easily recreate that black.

You may find as you mix more of your own blacks you stop using the tubes of black paint anyway as the colours you are mixing yourself have so much more life to them.

If you do use tube black then don't forget to mix in some of the colour you are putting it next to for colour harmony. 

Let me know how you get on mixing your own black. If you already do, what's your favourite mixes.

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