A Comprehensive Guide to Color Mixing

These resources are sure to lay the framework for a positively eye-catching work of art — full of bold and nuanced color alike.

How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network
The Blue Bridge, St. Jame’s Park, London (pastel) by David Napp

I still remember first learning about color theory in my fifth-grade art class. The concept of light waves; the spectrum; primary, secondary, and tertiary color — it was all rather enchanting. What once had been a random act of trial and error had now become a whole new world of methodical experimentation. I felt equipped to mix my paints with a sense of purpose — and a lot less of that accidental muddy brown.

The Chiaroscuro of Color

There is the science of color mixing based on a solid understanding of hue, chroma, value, and temperature. And then there is the art of it all — the instinctual and interpretive approach to creating a truly stunning piece of artwork. If you’ll excuse the mixed metaphors (and that unintended pun), color mixing is quite like chiaroscuro in this way; there is a balance between know-how and intuition involved. But like Carol Z. Brody has said about intuitive painting, “truly feeling comfortable working this way requires knowledge of the components of a good painting” — form, balance, contrast, composition, and, of course, color.

Below you’ll find a compilation of our very best articles and videos, all about demystifying color theory and getting this color-mixing thing down pat. From art demos and color palette guides to in-depth videos and more, this color mixing guide is sure to lay the framework for a positively eye-catching work of art. Happy (and colorful) creating, friends!

Color Theory

Color Mixing

what colors make gray11
Kyoto at Dusk (watercolor on paper, 14×20) by Keiko Tanabe

Tricky Shades

Winter in Padley George (watercolor on paper) by Geoff Kersey

Color Palettes

How to Achieve Brilliant Color in Pastel | Pastel Techniques | Pastel Painting | David Napp | Pastel Journal | Artists Network
Sarial Elegance (pastel, 25cm x 32cm) by David Napp

Color Demos

In-Depth Videos

And to take your knowledge of color mixing to the next level (and beyond), here are a handful of videos you can purchase for download, or stream immediately if you are an Artists Network Member!

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