A guide to mixing your own colours

Hi, lovely Messians! Sasha here today! It’s our favorite time again, isn’t it? The start of a new Get Messy season always feels magical and special. This is the time, when the air is thick with inspiration, creative plans, and courage to try more and make more. I hope to share a little bit of my own courage today with you in this tutorial. Let me start by saying – I am a lazy painter. I prefer using colors from the tube and find mixing colors scary and challenging. I know for sure that some of you feel that way too! And some of you are pro paint mixers (is that a word? 🙂 )  and I admire you so much! If you belong in the first camp with me, don’t run away terrified of what I am going to talk about yet. I promise, this is all going to be much easier than you imagine.

Basics of Color Mixing

First things first. With anything you do, you need to start with basics, right? I’m going to repeat something you’ve all heard before in a nutshell.

  • You can mix pretty much all colors using just three primary colors: yellow, red, and blue. They are unique, if you will, because there is no way you can mix them. But if you have them in your palette, you can mix secondary colors: green, orange, purple by combining just 2 of the primary colors. After that, you can go wild and mix secondary colors with your primaries (green+blue; violet+blue; violet+red etc.) and receive the palette of your dreams.
  • If you feel at loss, you can always resort to good old color wheel – you can find thousands of variations of it on the Internet. The idea is: you  use the two colors on either side of the color you want to make to mix that color. The opposite colors on the wheel will make gray or black after mixing (read “will make mud”). However, if you use a tiny bit of the opposite color, it will tone the other color down e.g. a tiny bit of purple will make yellow color more mutes.
  • If you paint pure opposite colors next to each other, they will compliment each other.
  • You can also tint the colors – just add white to make them lighter; or shade them – just add black to make them darker.

Don’t worry, though. I have your back! In the video, I am going to show you ways of cheating a little and using some tools to ease you into color mixing.

Inspiration

There are so many ways to get inspired by color! We are surrounded with color all day long, and even when we close our eyes to go to sleep, the ghosts of the colors we’ve seen dance in the darkness under our lids. Since moving to Europe half a year ago, my favorite way to get inspired by color was just going for a walk. Even small European towns have the most colorful tiny buildings that are so nice to look at! But, trust me, you don’t have to travel far to find amazing color inspiration. You just need to really look and SEE what is around you. Go out, seek inspiration. Don’t wait until it finds you. It may never do, unless you pursue and chase it. So, I invite you to join me for a fun color hunt walk. We will gather some visual inspiration and try to mix a few colors on our own.

Supplies

  • An open mind. Don’t step outside with the preconception that you’ve seen every wall, every shop sign, and every door in your town or city. Look at everything with fresh eyes. Become a tourist in your own city for a day. Really LOOK at the colors you encounter. Look for them in unexpected places such as the ground, old scruffy buildings, graffiti on the walls, your neighbours’ colorful outfits etc.
  • Your phone/camera to take photos for visual reference. When you are taking photos, you can already start analyzing what is in front of you: is it a warm or a cold color? Which color is dominant? Is it muted or bright? What are the possible color combinations for mixing it? Let your creative wheels start turning while you are still on a color hunt. You’ll be much more eager to return to your studio and experiment later on!
  • A basic paint set. For the purpose of this tutorial, I am using acrylic paints. You can use the paint of your preference – the basics of color mixing are the same for all of them. I am going to use the set of 12 paints of the Russian brand Sonet (you should totally make use of what you already own). Experienced painters say this number is more than enough to mix any colors, and who am I to argue with the masters? 😉 You can read the list of the colors in my set, in case you are interested.

  • A mixing palette. It can be anything, from a scrap piece of paper, to a store bought plastic/wooden palette. I am using my DIY palette which I made by covering a piece of thick cardboard with clear packaging tape. The tape prevents the paint from soaking into the cardboard fibers, so I don’t waste any product. This palette can also be washable, if you completely cover it in a few layers of packaging tape. I currently don’t bother washing it and  enjoy watching it turn into a unique piece of art with layers and layers of paint.
  • A brush or other tools for paint mixing. There is a rumor that mixing paint can be quite harsh on your brushes. It totally can! Big amounts of paint get deep into the bristles and it’s very hard to wash it out later. So, I suggest you use the opposite side of the brush (or another bristle-free object) for mixing your colors. However, I often disregard this rule and use some of my cheap brushes to steer the paint. Whatever works for you!

Let’s Go on an Adventure

Now, that you are all ready and in the right mindset, let’s explore the neighbourhood, shall we?

Links to the websites used in the tutorial:

Have fun hunting, tigers! 😉 Huge hugs, Sasha.

Action Steps

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Go color hunting! It doesn’t have to take the whole day. Take a few minutes here and there: when you are walking a dog, going for lunch, waiting for a bus, or taking your child to a playground.

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Open the images on your computer/print them and analyse the colors that are in front of you.

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Use your own color senses, a color wheel, various cheat sheets from the Internet or the websites mentioned in the video to mix at least 3 colors from your color hunt.

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Create an art journal page using one or more of those colors.

Sasha

Sasha is a freelance online English teacher from Ukraine, currently residing in Poland. She has been creative since very young age being raised in the family of photographers and actors. Sasha is a classic example of a “scanner” personality and often tries new creative things.

13 Comments

  1. Melody Willoughby

    Mixing colors is certainly scary to me. Who would have thought websites would help mix colors. Very cool. Thanks. XOXO

    • Sasha Zinevych

      It is very scary for me too, but I am slowly learning to let go and accept even the murky browns that appear after wrong mixing choices! 😉

    • Laura Rahuba

      I know, my reactions were the same as yours, Melody!

  2. Gilly Welch

    I totally agree with your observations of looking all around where you live/walk for inspiration and wow, what a fabulous website for calculating how to mix paints. Thanks for some wonderful ideas Sasha!

    • Sasha Zinevych

      Your comment makes me happy, Gilly! I hope you pick up your favorite ideas and go color hunting! 🙂

  3. Katie Smith

    that trycolors website is so fun!

    • Sasha Zinevych

      Yay! Glad you found something for yourself in this, Katie!

  4. Misty Granade

    Those are amazing resources! Also I could listen to you talk all day, Sasha!

    • Sasha Zinevych

      Haha, Misty! Thanks! You are making me blush! 😀 I didn’t think I sounded that great, so I didn’t watch my own tutorial again. 😉

  5. Laura Rahuba

    Great video, Sasha! The past 2 days I have mixed paint colors, BEFORE watching this video, and I was like “This is so difficult, I hate it!” But now I’m eager to try again using the online resources (that I had no idea existed)!

    • Sasha Zinevych

      Oh, Laura! I remember you sharing on FB! Did these resources help you in your color mixing journey? 😉

  6. Holly Janssen

    This is amazing, Sasha! I can’t wait to try this. Thank you for sharing yourself through color. I love hearing your voice!

    • Sasha Zinevych

      Aww, Holly! Thank you, sweet friend! I hope you give it a try! 😉