Color mixing greens, mauves, and secondaries

I’m having so much fun getting familiar with my new oil paint colors and seeing what kind of colors I can mix with them. My basic charts gave me a sense of how they relate to each other in several ways, and I wanted to take that further by doing some color mixing. My goal is to have some go-to color mixes for things like greens, mauves and other low intensity violets, and earthy reds and yellows. I  also wanted to see what kinds of secondary colors my primaries would make, now that I have a more complete palette of warms and cools.

various color mixes in oil paints Apr 27 2019
Various color mixes from my palette of oil paints, focused on earth tones for landscape painting

Because my focus is landscape painting, my hope with this chart is to uncover some great color mixes for the local color of landscape elements as well as colors that enhance them (such as oranges and violets working well with greens).

I get easily overwhelmed by all of the color mixing options when I stand at my easel — there’s just so much potential there! How do I choose when I don’t want to miss out on any of it? But it can stall my progress to seek the “right” answer to questions like this. In my current research on color, I’ve come across a few pastel artists that I love and so I started thinking about their approach to color. Many of them like to preselect their small palette of working colors from their larger supply of choices, which helps them achieve color harmony and stay in the flow while painting.

My intention is to use this chart in a similar way, as a visual aid to jump start my color strategy and mixing before I start painting. These little color samplings are primarily made from two colors (with white), and the idea is to get in the ball park and adjust with additional colors as needed to achieve the value, temperature, and intensity I’m looking for.

This chart of secondary color mixes is a simple and handy one to have. Carol Marine suggests it in her book, Daily Painting, as a way to see how the warm and cool primaries affect the temperature and intensity of secondary mixes made with them. I made one like this when I was starting out with watercolors and referenced it all the time.

secondary mixes from primaries in oil paint Apr 27 2019
Secondary mixes from primary colors and viridian (a stand-in for my yellow-leaning blue), with some earth colors in the last two columns

This green mixing chart is something I learned about after searching for how to mix natural looking greens for landscapes. Carol McIntyre demonstrates a sampling of the huge potential from just a yellow, blue, and two orange hues to modify. My photo doesn’t capture the real effect, but it was a clarifying exercise on how much can be created with so little.

green mixes in oil paint Apr 27 2019
Mixing greens from Winsor Lemon and ultramarine blue, with the addition of Winsor Orange in the second row and Transparent Earth Red in the third row