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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > October 18 > Colour mixing in oil

Colour mixing in oil

Sarah Spackman offers advice on colour mixing using oils paints, stressing that observation and cleanliness are the keys to success


Palette layout

I arrange my paint from left to right around the edge starting with the white, through the yellows, the reds and onto the blues. I get to know by habit where to go for each colour and I have a large clear area in the middle for mixing with my palette knife

Colour wheel

The corners of the triangle point to the three primary colours used: cadmium red, cadmium yellow and cobalt blue

Oil paint is a wonderful medium. It is very flexible in that it stays wet for long enough to be moved around, and it is possible to mix beautifully rich colours. Oil paint is made by mixing pigment with oil, usually linseed oil and, as a general rule, the better the paint, the more pigment it has in it and therefore the stronger the colour will be, so use the best you can afford.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the October issue in which many of our top-class artists celebrate painting in a variety of locations in all kinds of weather, from Pete the Street Brown in Havana, to Geoff Hunt who shows how not to let an unpromising day spoil your painting. Our artist-tutors also offer help and advice on colour mixing in oils, how to improve your compositional awareness, use gouache to paint atmospheric landscapes, create luminosity in your paintings by combining cold wax and water-soluble oils, and develop your skills by working in monochrome. Paul Talbot-Greaves suggests a simple exercise to help you loosen up, Julie Collins shows how to mix the right greens for your watercolour paintings, while Glyn Macey invites you to learn from the painting style of Lamorna Birch by following this month's demonstration. Plus, be inspired as we introduce many of this year's The Artist Open Competition amazingly talented prizewinners!