Do you think while you mix color?
The next few posts are going to hopefully get you to think & evaluate more about how you approach color mixing. Here are a few questions to ask yourself. I will be breaking these questions down into individual posts as we go along. Just the tip of the iceberg.
1. Do you premix the majority of your palette? Premixing helps you harmonize your painting. Having the entire color scheme mixed next to each other allows you to see the spectrum of values, hues & saturation. It also weeds out any "Screaming Mimi" colors that don't work before they hit the canvas. This will help keep your painting "fresh" because you aren't constantly scrapping & remixing colors.
2. Do you have temperature variety in your palette. Ex. If you are painting a pomegranate, did you just mix a range of light, halftone & dark reds or did you think about shifting the temperature & saturation of the reds as well?
3. Do you think about the saturation of colors? Putting the purest of color in your focal point will work but if what's around it is just as saturated doesn't that dilute the focal point?
4. Do you mix colors that will be next to each other on the canvas? I tend to mix color from my focal point out. Mix colors that lie next to each other in order to judge value, temperature & saturation.
5. Do you mix with a color in mind? A student recently asked me how to mix Cerulean Blue. I said I didn't have a clue. I don't mix to a particular "color name". My goal to mix the correct color for a specific spot in a painting. I never think "Oh, I need Cerulean Blue" there. Instead, I'm thinking that the color needs to be more warm or cool or more saturated or less or needs to shift in value. Keep tube colors out of your head, let what's next to the color dictate what direction you go.
If you were to watch me mix color or paint, you'd think I was just letting the paint flow without a care in the world. Reality is that my brain is going full speed. I constantly have a running list of questions. Not thinking is the worst thing for me. It gets me in trouble every time. While some of it is intuitive that comes from years of building my fundamentals but it doesn't allow me to turn my brain off. So grab your palette knife & start mixing but bring your brain along for the ride.