As I mentioned earlier, I purchased two 90lb weight watercolor Strathmore Visual Journals. I will be using these for my color swatch and color mixing recipe books. I love making color swatches of my media, but I have many loose color charts floating around. I also have a few color recipe books which are not well organized. I plan to create recipes using each of my most used colors, in addition to building a recipe book using standardized colors which I will use as the bases for all my mixing recipes. The real value in these books is the act of creating the different colors. You develop a sense for color mixing which becomes second nature to you, as it is for me. My main issue is being able to duplicate the colors I create whenever I want. I can always get something very close, but it might not be exactly the color I wanted…My goal is to take the guess work from it and come up with a standard I will be able to use every time, achieving the exact same results.
Liquitex has a set called Mixing 4. It gives me Yellow Med. Azo, Quinacrodone Crimson and Pthyalo Blue-which is my preferred blue anyway. This is a set of colors which will be around forever, because Liquitex is a company which will be around forever. I also have Windsor and Newton Galeria in process Magenta, Yellow and Cyan for another standard set in another book. And from Matisse I have Phthalo Blue, Primary Yellow and Cadmium Red Medium. I have Daler and Rowney Systems 3 in Crimson, Cad Red (hue), Cad Yellow (hue) and Ultramarine blue. I am out of my Golden colors in the primary’s.
By creating repeatable recipes with these standard paints, I will be able to make many many colors in each brand. The professional paints should all be very similar in their results, but I am interested to see what the Windsor Newton and Daler Rowney paints do.
The key is to add the same amounts of paint from your brush or palette knife every time so you can duplicate it. I use a a number 8 or 10 bright or angled flat brush for my mixing. I try to load the same amount on the tip of the brush each time, for each color. The trickier part comes in when you are not using 1 + 1 + 3 = your color but 1 + 1 + 1/4= your color, or 1 + 1 + a touch of= your color. You see where I’m going here? That’s where you have to have your measurements down the same every time. Just make sure your recipe states partial measurements in a way that is clearly understood by you. These are your color recipes, no one else. They have to make sense to you, not to me or the neighbor down the street. You.
Making these things doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Just start out with the first color and add the second in varying amounts. Then do the opposite-use the second color and add the first in varying amounts. See what colors you can achieve with them. Then add your third color. When you have achieved all you can with those throw in white to tint it, the color’s opposite to tone it, gray for shades and you’re off and running.
My goal here is to encourage you to play with color. So many people seem afraid of mixing their own colors, or have no confidence in what they will get. Yes, sometimes you will end up with mud. Great! How did you do that? Is it a chromatic black? If so, those are some of the most useful colors you will ever create. By creating a “black” with color you wont deaden your paintings. They will have a vibrancy and life to them which is spectacular to see. There are no mistakes in paint mixing-just wonderful opportunities for more colors.
So far, I’ve mixed 315 different colors from the three Liquitex mixing colors. I have gorgeous greens, pretty purples, stunning skin tones, out of this world oranges, and exquisite earth tones. All from three colors, in various amounts. I’m particularly impressed with the earthy colors. I have VanDyke Brown, Burnt Sienna, Australian Sienna, Nickel Azo Gold, Indian Yellow, Yellow Ocher and Raw Umber-type colors. Very close to all of those. With almost no effort at all. I love mixing colors, knowing I can duplicate them, and should I run out of any of those mentioned, I can reproduce them. The money I will be able to save on paint boggles my mind.
There are colors I will probably always purchase. Quinacridone Magenta, Australian Sienna, Southern Ocean Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Sap Green, and Cadmium Reds, Oranges, and Yellows. My favorite blue is Phthalo Blue rather than Ultramarine, but Ultramarine produces an entirely different type of green than the Phthalo does. So I will have that in my standard set of paints as well. Then there are Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Red Iron Oxide, etc. Each one perfect for certain applications. Raw Umber is one of my preferred choices to tone down the overly bright, circus-y colors you can sometimes get with acrylics.
Here is just one more way to relax and jump into your supplies. Color mixing takes the newness from the paints, gives you an opportunity to play with your materials and is wonderful practice. Trust me, you will always be glad you took the time to do this. It is also a lot of fun.