Thursday, January 13

Back to Basics - Painting with 3 Primary Colors


After a couple of blogs in which I talked about painting the way you want, I thought I’d better get back to business. That is, today’s blog is a little more practical, at least I hope so.

You probably already know about the three primary colors—red, blue, and yellow, right?

These are the only colors you’ll ever need to paint with, no kidding—with a caveat or two that I’ll throw in later.

If you are a beginning artist, or maybe just an adventurous one, you probably love to:

a) roam the aisles of your art supply store (or its equivalent online) scanning all the colors available to purchase and buying at least one per trip

b) collect as many colors of paint as you can afford

c) use all of your colors in your "masterpieces"

d) all of the above

I am guilty of d), and I admit it. If you are doing any of these, stop it!

I’m not sure when one stops being a “beginning” artist, but I did this (d) for the first three years of painting. And, just so you know, although I think of myself as adventurous, deep down I know that I’m really not, but that’s OK.

But I digress, back to the three primary colors.

Start with the three and practice, practice, practice using them exclusively. I suggest an ultramarine blue, cadmium red medium, and cadmium yellow light.

The caveats are this:

1) in oil or acrylic painting, you’ll need to add titanium white to lighten the hues

2) in oil, acrylic, or watercolor, you will eventually need to experiment with different blues and yellows to achieve the right shade of green you need (especially landscapes) and/or you can add a Hooker’s green to jump-start the process.

Other than that, you’re good to go.

The key to this, like a New Year’s resolution, is to be diligent and don’t cheat. Use only these three colors, and none others, for the next three months or until the colors in your paintings match your motif.

Now that I’ve told you what to do, next blog I’ll tell you why.

Happy Painting.

Until next blog…

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