Within our first session we were introduced to the process of colour mixing, in order to achieve at least 30 different shades of the same colour, my chosen colour being blue. The colours were based upon objects they we were asked to collect. We will later be using the colours to achieve a still life painting of our objects:


I had only ever mixed paint colours on a whim, in such that I understood the principles of primary, secondary and tertiary colours but failed to realise the complexity of colours, merely adding more or less of the two derivative colours (and often white and black to change the light or darkness) to alter a colour’s shade. During my experimentation I was surprised to discover that I required the use of small amounts of crimson and orange in order to achieve the particularly warm characteristics of some shades of blue which could not be achieved otherwise. It was enlightening to find out that aspects of colour which were previously unattainable could be achieved by the minute inclusion of directly opposite colours (in terms of warm and cool colours).

During my experimentation I also came across the fact that only small amounts of paint are required to alter shades, particularly in the terms of white. Adding white in any greater amounts than pin-pricks I found resulted in the whole colour shifting to milky shade of its original, ultimately spoiling the complex values of the colour fragment. Similarly I required the use of specific artist’s range of paints in the form of Phthalo Blue (both the red and green shade) in order to achieve colour fragments which required a richer turquoise or violet qualities. I found that due to the higher-quality of the pigment in the artist’s range as opposed to the student one it resulted in even less of the paint being required to alter the general tone of the fragment. Although this was the case I still found it more difficult to mix acrylic paints effectively as opposed to watercolours of which I am more familiar. Whether this is due to my lack of experience with them or the fact the water-soluble element of watercolours allows for easier blending, I am still unsure. However it is clear that I require greater experimentation with acrylic paints.
Although the tonal values of my blues were relatively simple to achieve through experimentation others who chose pink as their base colour found it particularly difficult to replicate the luminosity of some tones with the available pigment grades. It is therefore evident that some shades of colour require specialist grades of paint which cannot be attained cheaply or are cost-effective for the small amount required in our paintings.


This attentive and gradual method of mixing paint, albeit frustrating at times, was essential to achieve accurate colour representations of our chosen objects. It has led me to a new appreciation of colour and rather than overlooking the process of colour mixing and being satisfied with an approximation of the desired colour I will now strive for accurate duplication of colour, making colour mixing a honed art in itself.