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Digital Subscriptions > Leisure Painter > Dec-19 > Take three colours

Take three colours

Learn how to work with a limited palette before depicting stonework, trees, rocks and reflections in a single painting, by Stephen Coates


How to represent stonework

Paint the reflection of an archway in water

Paint highlighted rocks and simple silver birch trees


A mix is a combination of two pure pigments of colour to create a new colour. Adding water to a pure colour doesn’t create a mix, but a wash.

A wash is simply a mixture of water and paint – the more water in the pure paint or mix, the weaker the wash.

I used three tubes of paint for the following demonstration painting: light red, raw sienna and ultramarine blue. The chart (right) shows how different shades can be created from these three colours. Light red is extremely strong and should not be used as a base colour; instead, it should only be used as an ‘additive’ – added to the base colour. Raw sienna and ultramarine blue are always the base colours for mixing.

Follow the chart to mix the colours you will need. For example, greens are mixed using raw sienna as the base colour; ultramarine blue is then added in differing quantities to achieve different shades of green.

Prepare your palette

Before you start, make sure you have all the colours ready for each stage of your painting. Mix plenty of paint. It is better to have a bit left over than to have to stop painting halfway through a stage to mix more. For example, if you are halfway through a sky and you run out of paint on your palette, you simply won’t have time to mix any more before your sky dries – disaster! LP


Raw sienna can vary in shade from one brand to another, and sometimes can be darker in colour. If yours looks darker than the one shown here, you may need to use yellow ochre instead.


Adding water to grey mix
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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to the December issue of Leisure Painter. Aimed at beginners and amateur painters, this issue is packed with demonstrations, practical advice and tutorials on painting landscapes, still lifes, animals, flowers, portraits and nature studies in watercolour, oils, acrylics and gouache. There's everything from how to paint successfully from photographs and setting up a still life, to Christmas-themed ideas to paint and the difference between shade and tone (and how that difference can make your landscapes come alive!). You'll also find our annual index, news from the art clubs, special book offers, exhibitions to visit and more - all aimed at helping you enjoy your drawing and painting time this month.