Understanding Colour 2 – Primary and secondary colour mixing

First, identify your primary colours. Begin by laying sma ll amounts of pigment onto your palette, arranging them in yellows, reds, blues etc.

Working on an area of your prepared grey ground, lay all the yellows next to each other so that they touch but don’t mix. Notice the difference in hue (the way that one colour is distinguished from another), chroma (the intensity of colour) and tone (how light or dark it is). Arrange the yellows in different sequences and how different juxtapositions alter the appearance of yellows. Make note of which is the more intense yellow.

Continue with this  exercise using both your blues and reds, you will need to mix a bit of white to see the hue of dark reds and blues properly as these pigments tend to be more transparent.

Identifying Primaries

I really should buy more oil paint colours and started working with oils for some exercises as the acrylic paint i uded for this exercise was very transparent, especially against the grey background, and I did use various brands and qualities.

Identifying Primary Colours 1

Identifying Primary Colours 1

Identifying Primary Colours 2

Identifying Primary Colours 2

I started by laying down all the yellows that I had which wasn’t a lot, lemon yellow, deep yellow and medium yellow. For blues I had Phthalo blue, Prussian blue, cobalt blue, blue hue and blue lake and reds Vermilion, bright red and crimson, there were no primaries in any of the colours, each of them showed sign of other hues and to be honest I really didn’t know what a primary red, blue or even yellow looked like so to be safe I thought it was time to buy primary colours just so I knew.

Identifying Primary Colours 3

Identifying Primary Colours 3






Identifying Primary Colours 4

Identifying Primary Colours 4

Not having much cash left to last the month the next day following day I purchased three acrylic paints made in Thailand, a red, yellow and blue. They said primary colour on the tubs, but when I got home I realised it was probably a company slogan the paints were very runny, very transparent and very ‘crap’. Still I decided to work with them for now. The red was too bright and didn’t mix well with the Louvre crimson, the yellow was too golden but the blue was ok just too runny.

Using what I had for now I laid them all down in strips touching each other and what I noticed was working in different sequences I not only got to see how each colour looked next to another, different tones etc but it also allowed me to see hints of other primary colours within their hues.

Primary Colour Mixing

Mixing Primary Colours

Mixing Primary Colours

I began by mixing yellow to red, then yellow to green and then blue to red, which should have been red to blue without white. These mixes can be seen above in the first 6 scales, the mixes were unstable (if that’s the right word) murky and transparent with no steady progress from one mix to another.

The next day I did what I should have done in the first place and bought some better colours.I was hoping for Louvre but there were no primary colours so I had to settle for liquitex which was the only brand with primary colours in stock. This time I mixed in a bit of white for each one.

Mixing Primary Colours 2

Mixing Primary Colours 2

The results were a lot better, the colours were less transparent this time, the colours at the middle were less murky and  the tones were very even with a beautiful progression in hues from one stripe to the next.

2 thoughts on “Understanding Colour 2 – Primary and secondary colour mixing

    1. Mark A Smith Post author

      I hated it, due to lack of good paints. I think it’s definitely an oil paint exercise. I have only been using acrylics, I like to keep everything neat and tidy and do all these types of exercise in an XL book, so I like to turn the page over as soon as I can.

      Liked by 1 person


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