Friday, March 1

Tales from the Palette: Mixing the Color Beige/Tan

Is It Beige or Tan?
Acrylic on Canvas
Copyright 2008
You may be able to tell from the title of today's blog why it's a challenge to mix this color since most painters can't even agree on what to call it. Is it beige or tan or buff or sand or what?

You know, it's that color that you use all the time in landscapes (roads) and seascapes (sand) and for the sides of buildings and on walls and floors and tabletops in still lifes. I suppose it doesn't matter what you call it as long as you are able to reproduce it the way you need it to look in your paintings.

Why is mixing beige/tan, etc. so challenging?

It's just a mixture of the three primary colors, which sounds relatively simple. But, as you undoubtedly already know, it's not that easy. No.

What is so tricky is to achieve the correct tone and value you need anywhere from a warm, creamy yellow to a shadowy violet--and to make it appear natural.

Depending on the proportion you use of each color, you will have a broad spectrum of colors, tints, and shades. In addition, the particular combination you use, for example, Naples yellow/Cad red/Cerulean blue versus Lemon yellow/Ultramarine/Alizarin, will multiply your outcome almost exponentially.

Just to keep it interesting, did I also mention you mix beige/tan differently using watercolor than oil and acrylic? In watercolor the paper acts as white so you have to know how much or little color to mix. With oil and acrylic you also have to know the right amount of white to add as well.

It's no wonder people don't know what to call it when they can't even figure out how to mix it.

Who said beige was boring?

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