Mixing Paint

Oil Painting 101: W. David Price

How to Mix Paint.

There are three elements to color:

  • Hue: Hues are blue, red, and yellow. Exact names such as Yellow Ocher refer to pigments, not hues.

  • Chroma: Chroma refers to intensity — how bright or how dull a color is. The intensity, or chroma, of a hue is dulled by adding a touch of the color found opposite from it on the color wheel. Example: By adding a touch of blue to red, the red becomes dull.

  • Value: Value refers to the lightness or darkness of color. Value can be adjusted by mixing a hue with black, white, yellow, yellow ochre, burnt umber, etc.

Mixing the desired color is simply a matter of adjusting these components until the color is right. To begin, choose the hue you desire and evaluate the color. An unaltered hue might be too strong. If it is different than the color you desire, do you need to add the opposite hue (chroma), or do you need to add a different color to increase or decrease the value (intensity)?

Make a color wheel on your palette. In a circular pattern, apply a small dab of each color as it is found on the color wheel. Now, have fun experimenting! Your ability to mix colors without getting them muddy helps move you from a novice artist to a professional. As with everything, practice makes perfect.