BE CLEAN AND ORGANIZED
I know for some of us, it can be very difficult to maintain a clean and organized painting environment. Sometimes we can get very caught up in our work and things can get sloppy. The last thing you want is to become a sloppy painter as your work will suffer. Break the habit early and try your hardest to develop clean and organized painting habits.
First, you should get into the habit of laying out your colors the same way every time you paint. This is just good practice and keeps the painting process flowing nicely. Arrange your colors along the edges of your palette leaving a lot of room in the center for mixing.
Don’t be afraid to squeeze out a good amount of paint, especially your whites. You will be more productive if you aren’t continuously stopping to squeeze out more paint.
Make certain to include all of the colors you think you will need to complete that session of painting. Again, this will make you more productive.
When adding paint to the palette, I have found that squeezing the paint out in long lines, as opposed to puddles, keeps my colors cleaner. When you have puddles of paint, they tend to get soiled by other colors when mixing. With a long line of paint, you can just take paint from the end as needed and not dirty the rest. Keep some rags or paper towels handy for wiping your palette knife clean.
It’s a good idea to continuously wipe your palette clean during the painting process. There is nothing more frustrating then trying to remove dried up oil paint. Keep some alcohol handy so that you can keep the mixing area of your palette clean.
If you don’t want to fuss around with a regular palette, why not try a disposable one? They are basically paper with a plastic coating that prevents the paper from absorbing the oil. The beauty of the disposable palette, is that you can simply throw it in the trash when you are done. Using a disposable palette will definitely help keep your colors clean as you will be starting with a clean surface every time you start a new painting session.
When mixing your colors, use your palette knife and not your brush. A palette knife can be wiped completely clean so there is no chance of your colors becoming contaminated. Your brush is made for painting and not mixing and you can shorten the life span of your brush if you are continually mixing with it.
I like to have a handful of clean brushes near by when I am painting. This way, I do not need to stop and clean my brushes when I am working with a different color and there is less risk of the wrong colors getting into the mix.
SATURATION OR BRILLIANCE OF COLOR
When a color is squeezed straight from the tube, it is said to be high in saturation or brilliance. This is because it hasn’t been mixed with any other colors. The more colors you mix together, the duller they will become. It has been said that one should not mix more than three colors together and this a very good rule to follow. If you mix more than three colors together you are kind of defeating the purpose.
Why is this so? Let’s say that you are going to mix a brown. You decide to use red, yellow and blue to create your brown. You then decide to mix in a bit of orange. As you know, red mixed with yellow will create orange. So there is no need to add the additional color.
No one ever said it is a sin to use color straight from the tube. If you are painting something that calls for brighter color, why not use paint straight from the tube without mixing. Sometimes we get so accustomed to mixing color, that we neglect the pure color that is right in front of us. When using pure color though, try not to over do it. Too many bright colors can create havoc in a painting. Try and add bright colors against a duller surrounding so that your bright colors really stand out.
LIGHTEN OR DARKEN WITH COLOR
What is it that most of us do when we want to change the value of a color? To lighten a color, we usually add white and to darken a color we use black. You should always look for the opportunity to use color to change the value instead of black and white. Adding white or black to color will diminish its brilliance, unless that is the effect you are shooting for. A great example of this is using Yellow Ochre. If you want to brighten and lighten this color, instead of adding white, try adding a little Cadmium Yellow Light.
I hope this article has given you a little more insight into keeping your colors pure. Remember to practice oil painting as often as possible and never give up, no matter how frustrated you get!