Steps to make Better Oil Paintings: Tips & Techniques for Correctly Mixing Color

Steps to make Better Oil Paintings: Tips & Techniques for Correctly Mixing Color

Oil Paintings

There’s nothing more frustrating when painting then not being able to mix the proper color. When I first started oil painting, it didn’t matter that i possibly could see just what color I needed, because everything I mixed up still turned into mud.
In the end, it simply took a bit more knowledge of how color works. In this tutorial I’m likely to pass along that knowledge.

  • The eight colors you see above are all that I prefer when painting. (You might also want to consider my full listing of oil painting supplies for beginning painters.) The most notable red is Cadmium Red, and the one below it really is Permanent Alizarin Crimson. The two blues are harder to differentiate over the computer, nevertheless the top a person is Ultramarine Blue together with other is Phthalo Blue. My yellows are Cadmium Yellow Light, and Cadmium Yellow (which is practically orange).
  • Titanium White and Ivory Black are also to my palette, but i personally use them sparingly. There’s no green, or any other intermediate colors, because i will mix every color I need with those eight colors of paint. At the end of this tutorial, you’ll oftimes be far more confident that you are able to do the same, so feel free to bookmark this page if you’d prefer to utilize it as a reference later.

Before we get too far in, you’ll need certainly to start thinking about color differently—that every color actually has another color in it too.

  • Sound weird? Well view it in this manner: Some yellows are far more “orange” than the others, which means that they usually have more red in them. Some blues have enough yellow in them to ensure they are green. And so on.
  • There’s no perfect blue, or perfect red, because every color you see leans one of the ways or the other round the color wheel. Then when you mix blue paint with yellow paint to produce green, you’re also bringing together two other colors into the mix—and that is exactly what causes all the problems.
  • Utilizing the paints I prefer, I have four other ways which will make green. I can mix Phthalo Blue (the top blue in this next image) with either Cadmium Yellow Light, or Cadmium Yellow; and I also can mix Ultramarine Blue with either yellow.
  • As you can see, the absolute most vivid green possible is with Phthalo Blue and Cad Yellow Light. Why? Because both colors already lean towards green in the color wheel!
  • If I prefer Ultramarine to make green, then I’m adding a little red to the mix, since it looks a tad bit more purple/violet (and therefore learns toward red). Because red is directly opposite of green on the wheel, I’m essentially neutralizing the green as I mix it, which makes it more brown than it needs to be.
  • If I go one step further, and mix Ultramarine with Cadmium Yellow (my “orange” yellow) then I’m adding even more red towards the mix which can be great if i would like brown, but not good if I’m searching for green!
  • The simple truth is, neutralizing colors is straightforward: you merely add a little bit of whatever color is opposite on the wheel. But getting bright, pure color takes knowing which paint colors won’t automatically dull down another color.

So just how about making orange? Again, I’ve got four options.

  1. The exact same rules apply here while they did for mixing green: if you’d like the essential vivid orange, mix a yellow that leans towards red with a red that leans toward yellow.
  2. Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Red make a brilliant orange-red that is fantastic to paint with, and Cadmium Yellow Light and Cadmium Red come up with a good color too. Actually, they make just a slightly more vivid orange than Cadmium Yellow is right out of the tube.
  3. Mixing Permanent Alizarin Crimson with either of the yellows works OK, nevertheless the touch of blue this has on it will usually make your resulting orange a bit more neutral.
  4. What Permanent Alizarin Crimson really is best for is making a purple or violet color, since it’s already a bluish/red paint.
  5. Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine (leftmost blue) give me the best result; and extremely no other combination compares.
  6. Glance at what the results are once I use Ultramarine with Cadmium Red! You’d think it would work somewhat, but there’s a great deal yellow in Cadmium Red so it completely dulls along the blue and all sorts of I’m left with is a brownish maroon color.
  7. And try as I might, all I’m able to get with the Phthalo (by keeping a strong reign regarding the Cadmium Red) is a dark gray blue.

Right now I hope you won’t be surprised there are hidden colors lurking in your black and white paint as well.

  • Ivory black is really a dark, neutral blue, which ultimately shows up a little bit when you mix it with white. The white i personally use, Titanium White, is great given that it really doesn’t have that much other color in it.
  • At the beginning of this article I mentioned that i take advantage of black and white sparingly. The reason behind this might be that they’re completely neutral colors, and using them will always eliminate the vividness of your other paint.
  • A lot more than that, black and white don’t necessarily act like lots of people think they should.
  • For example, if you mix black with yellow you’ll quickly find out which you don’t just get a darker yellow. Ivory Black actually turns yellow into a type of muddy green.

And oddly enough, the two best tips i could offer new painters is always to make use of a clean, organized palette and ALWAYS clean your brush before mixing an alternative color.
I don’t mean you must completely clean your paint brushes with turpentine in between every brush stroke, but having a newspaper handy to quickly squeeze a lot of the paint from the bristles isn’t that hard.
You are able to dip your brush into oil painting medium made with linseed stand oil and turpentine should you want to get more paint out. Allow it to be a habit to keep your brushes clean while painting, and I guarantee your paintings will greatly improve.
Finally, you need to be deliberate when mixing colors—take your time and effort if just getting started. Your time and effort can pay off in the event that you follow these guidelines and before you know it, matching the colors you see in life will soon become second nature.
Be sure that you read our full article about Oil Paintings!

Make Your Oil Paintings to Last!

Make Your Oil Paintings to Last!

Oil Paintings

I will be painting in oils right now thus I was inspired to create a bit about any of it fabulous medium, from a technical perspective of course.

I spent years studying the materials and techniques associated with Old Masters of this Renaissance and Baroque periods. One of many remarkable things I learned was that they were very worried about making their creative expressions to last and thus the strategy they used to put their paintings together was very affected by this goal.

  • Much of the info on the best way to make sure that their paintings would stay in good condition for years and years – yes, they really did think during these terms – was gradually lost starting all over end of this 18th century. This knowledge happens to be revived almost entirely by the work of conservationists in museums that have spent additional time in the last century or more attempting to restore works of contemporary artists than compared to the fantastic painters of the past. This is not the sort of stuff you learn in Fine Arts programs, or perhaps in workshops for instance; until you take certainly one of mine of course.
  • Because so many of you will be aware, my teaching and writing on art is targeted on all things technical. Most of the workshops i have already been doing in recent years have been around in acrylics, however, this fall i’ll be doing a workshop for oil painters over two weekends in October and November, here in Kamloops. I will even spend time reviewing the history of oil painting techniques and looking at how some of my favorite painters, like Raphael and Caravaggio, created their masterpieces. I will post again in August or September with more details if the information is available.

Here are some guidelines you can easily follow to help you ensure your paintings can last for generations to come to take pleasure from:

Guidelines for Permanent Painting in Oils

  1. Paint on a good quality ground. If you use acrylic gesso, make sure that it really is thick adequate to prevent oil seeping right through to the support.
  2. Paint on a rigid support, like hardboard, in place of a flexible support whenever possible (see #19). It is possible to prepare cotton canvas for painting in oils by making use of a layer of Golden’s GAC 400 (fabric stiffening medium) regarding the back, and Golden’t GAC 100 medium on the front to stop oil from seaping thru into the fabric.
  3. Paint fast dryers under slow dryers.
  4. Paint ‘lean’ (low oil content) pigments under ‘fat’ (high oil content) ones.
  5. When painting in layers keep the under layers thinner and leaner.
  6. Paint oils over acrylics, if you must, but not one other way around, and on a rigid in the place of a flexible support.
  7. Try not to paint over a layer who has a dried-out skin but is soft and wet underneath.
  8. Oil paint may be thinned with only really small levels of solvent.
  9. Do not add extra oil to your paint.
  10. Use a good painting medium (Alkyd) to thin paint and make glazes and veils.
  11. Use Retouch varnish sparingly.
  12. Maintain the underpainting light and bright (see # 17&18).
  13. Usually do not apply the paint too thick.
  14. Heavy texture, thick paint layers, and collage effects would be best finished with acrylic paints and mediums.
  15. Do not use old paint which has had started to dry and is stiff and rubbery, it does not adhere well.
  16. Paint around things in place of over top unless you need the underpainting to show (see # 17&18).
  17. Remember that oil paint darkens and gets to be more yellow/brown as we grow older.
  18. Keep in mind that oil paint gets to be more transparent with age.
  19. Remember that oil paint becomes more hard and brittle as we grow older.
  20. Use soap to clean hands and brushes, not solvents.
  21. Utilize the best quality paints you can afford.
  22. Usually do not mix low grade and professional grade paints in identical painting.
  23. Wait between 3-12 months before you apply picture varnish, with respect to the thickness for the paint.
  24. Usually do not hang or store oil paintings where they’ll be subjected to humidity or large temperature fluctuations.
  25. Never use water to completely clean an oil painting.

Be sure that you read our full article about Landscape Oil Paintings!

Preserving Oil Paintings

Storing Oil Paintings

Oil Paintings

A walk through any great museum leaves you aided by the impression of the permanence and power of oil painting. Oil painting is considered the most natural and enduring of all painting media, with that said, it is worth taking good care of paintings too. The very first side bar has links through the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute to recommendations on care and storage of artworks, we advice you check these call at addition into the information below.

The information and knowledge below is approximately taking care of of storage: the change in colour of oil paintings in dark storage, that recovers when cut back into the light.

  • Oil painters can amass a wide range of paintings. And we also are then up against the problem of where and how to store the artwork. Understanding the lessons through the 550 years of oil painting we understand that oil paintings age best in stable and moderate environments. This includes moderate temperatures and humidity, and a moderate number of light. The general recommendation through the Smithsonian is actually for dark storage, but oil paintings usually takes continuous light exposure, in fact light exposure is wonderful for the binder.
  • Along with of a drying oil in a finished paint (linseed, safflower, walnut, and even alkyds) changes in response to your quantity of light. Light exposure bleaches oil, as well as in the dark, drying oils upsurge in color. It is important to realize that for the vast majority of paintings and also the the greater part of storage conditions these changes are imperceptible.
  • Nevertheless, we made a decision to study and measure this phenomenon for ourselves: the change in the colour of oil in terms of light levels. Henry Levinson, who founded Permanent Pigments in 1933, had done a similar test, the results were published in the 1970’s. (1)

Change is the Rule

  • The precise colour of an oil painting is continually changing in response to degrees of light. Robert Gamblin learned this several years ago when he had drawdowns regarding the whites we make on his office wall. Each month he would measure the color with your spectrophotometer, and then graph the outcomes. He had been in search of any meaningful change in color. Instead, he found the littlest up and down movements in the measurement of color. With time, Robert realized that the drawdowns were responding to the elements, the movements he saw were in response towards the quantity of sunshine coming through his window.
  • The two charts below show the change in brightness in only one white oil color, Titanium White, over a year’s period, as the oil slightly changes color as a result towards the amount of light that it is receiving. What you see into the charts are simply the L* value (lightness, which goes from 1-100) in an L*a*b* system of color measurement.
  • Studying the chart of improvement in lightness on a field of all values from 0-100, you can view there is very little change. In fact the alteration is imperceptible towards the eye. Nevertheless the photo spectrometer is incredibly sensitive and in looking at the chart below (detail of the chart to the right) you can view that there are alterations in the lightness of this white over the course of a year.
  • Notice where the L* value dips? This is how it is cloudy for a few days before measurement, and where L* raises, this is how it is sunny. To your eye you can not detect a change in color within the samples from month to month, nevertheless the spectrophotometer is sensitive enough to measure subtlest of shifts in color.
  • Thus giving us the understanding that the colour of a painting changes not merely if it is kept in the dark and brought in to the light, it is changing throughout its life however imperceptibly, in response into the level of light it receives.


  • Since each color has the three attributes of hue value and intensity, it will require at the least two graphs of each and every color sample to tell a whole story associated with measurement of color as well as its changes. One graph, based on L*, shows Lightness or value, and another, in line with the a* & b* values show how that color moved through color space if it space was flat, like a normal artists color wheel.

Change of Color from Storage at nighttime

  • It is clear that the changes we are measuring only become perceptible in extremes of painting and storage, such as for instance in a painting with large, thick areas of white that receive little light.
  • The graphs below address this question, first is a graph for the lightness of Titanium White drawn down without medium during the early December. The Light Aged drawdown spent the entire year within the normal light and dark cycles which occur every single day. The Dark Aged drawdown dried in the light and was kept in total darkness until April. Then was immediately measured and gone back to total darkness until October, measured, after which brought out into the light and measured again after a week in normal day light.
  • The Light aged sample measured lighter all the two times it had been measured throughout the year. The Dark aged sample showed an approximate .3 % lowering of lightness throughout the time it absolutely was at night. Soon after being brought back in to the light it regained it original color and matched the light aged sample in lightness.
  • Nevertheless the “degree of color” component expressed into the a*b* graph illustrates how oil changes color as a result to light levels. The Light Aged sample moved in direction of zero, (zero is wholly neutral in color), the bleaching effect of the light made the oil paler in color throughout the year. The Gamblin Warm White measurement is merely for comparison to demonstrate how small would be the changes in the white our company is speaking about.
  • The Dark Aged sample gained color from being kept in the dark, nevertheless when brought in to the light recovered its color to the level with regards to was placed into the dark. In other words it recovered its original color. Any difference would be most likely be imperceptible into the eye.

Improvement in Color When Medium is added

  • Given that this is clear, let’s ask the question what the results are when one adds medium, which essentially adds more binder to your paint? The graph above shows what happened to Titanium White when 20% Galkyd was added. We possess the exact same form of movement we saw in pure paint. The Light Aged sample got less color throughout the year; the Dark aged sample gained in color at night, but nearly matched the light aged sample in color because of the end regarding the study.

The end result of Heat from the Color of Oil

  • We also wanted to go through the effect of heat aging since we know that lots of oil paintings are stored in the dark in hot garages and attics throughout the summer months. And think about glazes? How can they perform being that they are so rich in binder. We were able to get a review of both questions by aging pure films of Galkyd within the light, dark, and hot dark.
  • This graph is just a little difficult to see because a lot of points are clustered in one area. The Galkyd aged into the light just moved around one tight section of the graph, it’s color changing imperceptibly. And because Galkyd is pure binder it took on lots of color at nighttime, and even more so within the hot dark. But after a month of being gone back to the light, both samples recovered their color to just like the sample that had aged into the light the complete time.
  • This test was the most dramatic illustration of paint/mediums aging at night for a year or higher, and then recovering their original color when cut back to the light.
  • This is a good exemplory case of why we recommend using a varnish such as Gamvar when it comes to final coat on a painting instead of a coat of a painting medium. Gamvar, since it is not made from oil, will likely not proceed through these light/dark color shifts.


  • The few graphs above are representative of the relatively large study we did, and our studies concur with the knowledge handed down to us through the centuries of oil painting, along with Henry Levinson’s tests.
  • Oil colors in a dried oil painting take on color at nighttime, and bleach back out in the light. And then we unearthed that mediums act exactly the same way as pure oil colors.
  • This leads to an additional recommendation: that work be brought away from storage before an expected viewing and place into bright light for some days.
  • As artists we understand that our paintings have been in partnership with light, and therefore our work appears differently in different temperatures and degrees of light. Nevertheless the studies above also point out that light levels are constantly affecting the color in a painting. And we believe it is to be profound that the painting we thought was finished is subtly changing in reaction to where it really is hanging, enough time of day, together with brightness regarding the season.
  • We now have always thought that a painting has two lives, usually the one it has on the easel while being created, therefore the second one that begins when the artist says, “it’s done.” This study implies that paintings in their second lives are not inanimate objects, they’ve been dynamic (always active or changing), in subtle ways.


Oil Paintings

To ensure your finished oil or acrylic painting to stay looking its best then adding the proper varnish in the right way is going to be a sound investment. Varnish protects the painting from dirt and dust and evens out of the painting’s final appearance, making it all equally glossy or matt.
Through the years dirt and dust will stick to the varnish as opposed to the painting and when it’s high time, the varnish itself could be removed therefore the painting re-varnished to check just like new.

Fixing dull paintings

  • If for example the painting is dull, you can easily confuse the requirement for varnishing because of the dullness made from colour which has sunk into the surface. In the event that colour has sunk then varnishing must be avoided, additionally the thing to do is ‘oil out’ those sunken areas using Artists’ Painting Medium (see our Tip & Technique from the ‘Oiling out Technique’).
  • Sometimes artists varnish their strive to help stabilise surfaces with added texture or damaged layers, however, while varnish will definitely help, once the varnish is on it can’t be removed without damaging the task. When you have pictures similar to this, we recommend you keep the varnished work behind glass and think about simple tips to improve your technique for the near future.

What kinds of finished surfaces can be varnished?

  • Varnishes work very well with oil and acrylic because the paint films are relatively thick and separate from the surface. Varnishes usually do not work well with Gouache, water colour and drawings considering that the varnish should be deeply absorbed because of the paint and/or paper, becoming a fundamental element of the image and might cause discolouration. In addition, varnishes on works created using Gouache, water colour and drawing can not be removed.

Which varnish?

Generally, artists choose varnishes for the sheen they provide and also if they have been employed by their favourite painters.
Listed here is a brief history for the different types of varnishes:

  1. Dammar remains probably one of the most popular varnishes despite the fact that newer varnishes have been introduced since its development.
  2. Gloss varnishes are chosen simply because they supply the brightest, deepest colours but works with gloss varnish have a great deal of reflection.
  3. Matt varnishes avoid reflections but the colours appear duller.
  4. All Winsor & Newton varnishes can be used on oil, alkyd, Artisan or acrylic paintings, however, each is fashioned with specific kinds of colour in mind.

The Winsor & Newton varnishes

For Oil Colour

  • Dammar Varnish: the oldest liquid varnish, this gives an extremely high gloss. Winsor & Newton is the traditional 5lb cut should you want to put it to use for mediums (which we usually do not recommend but millions utilize it). As a solid varnish, we recommend using Distilled Turpentine (our strongest solvent) when it needs to be removed.
  • Professional Gloss Varnish: The preferred varnish, it provides an extremely high gloss finish. Stronger solvents are going to be necessary to take it off as time goes by.
  • Professional Matt Varnish: One of the most modern varnishes, it really is readily removable and gives a medium matt sheen. Professional Matt and Gloss varnishes may be intermixed for varying sheens in between. We suggest about 50:50 to realize a Satin finish.
  • Professional Satin Varnish: A superior quality UV resistant satin varnish, removable with Artists’ White Spirit or Distilled Turpentine.
  • Re-touching Varnish: A UV resistant gloss varnish which provides temporary protection to recently completed oil paintings. It really is quick drying and should be used in thin layers.

For Water Mixable Oils

  • Artisan Gloss, Matt or Satin Varnishes: These varnishes are formulated avoiding conventional solvents, perfect for communal studios or those needing to avoid hazardous solvents. These varnishes may be used on conventional along with Artisan oil paintings.
  • Aerosol Varnishes: Aerosol varnishes are really ideal for paintings with rough brushwork as a thinner layer can be applied. They are preferred if you discover applying with a brush more challenging.

For Acrylics

  • Artists’ Acrylic Gloss, Matt or Satin Varnishes: These varnishes are uniquely formulated to be removable and contain UV resistance aided by the Satin Gloss being mid-sheen with regards to the Matt and Gloss varnishes. The Galeria acrylic range also has its own array of gloss, matt and satin varnishes.

Top ten tips when applying varnish

  1. Hold back until your painting is totally dry.
  2. Choose a dust free area to focus in, keeping doors and windows closed.
  3. Use a flat wide, soft, tightly packed varnishing brush for instance the Winsor & Newton Monarch glazing and varnishing brush, ensure that it it is neat and utilize it only for varnishing.
  4. Maintain the strive to be varnished flat on a table or work surface – avoid working vertically.
  5. Stir the varnish well and pour it into a clean flat saucer or tin and load your brush. Wipe it on the side of the saucer so it’s not dripping.
  6. Apply the varnish in 1 to 3 thin coats rather than one thick coat.
  7. Use long even strokes from top to bottom while moving from a single side to another, and take away any bubbles.
  8. When you leave an area, avoid going back over areas which you have done. For all those areas which you have missed, simply allow to dry completely and re-varnish.
  9. After you have finished, shield from dust with a protective plastic film (referred to as a ‘tent’).
  10. Leave to dry every day and night and when an extra coat is necessary, apply at right angles to your first.

Handling and hanging

  • It is advisable to avoid leaning varnished paintings together as they may stick.
  • If you use bubble wrap around your varnished painting or pick it up with your fingers touching the varnish, you may get impressions showing in the varnish. Avoid hanging pictures in bathrooms or kitchens, above radiators or open fires as they will certainly get dirty very quickly.

Make certain you read our full article about Oil Paintings (ChristelReadArt)!