New! Acrylic ‘Simple Colour Mixing’ Course

by Will Kemp

in colour theory

How to transform your colour mixing in a weekend

With so many different colours available, when starting colour mixing, where do you begin?

You find yourself standing in an art store with rows and rows of paints in front of you, scanning up and down the aisles trying to take it all it.

Exotic names and vivid colours vie for your attention, from a Potters pink to a Green gold, and other names you just can’t seem to even pronounce!

How to you even say Anthraquinone blue? (answers on a postcard please!)

Most modern manufactures have over 100 different colours to choose from, from mineral inorganic colours to man made organic colours – the choice is immense…

To make things more difficult, some brands can call the same pigment a different name.

Phthalo Blue in one brand is called Winsor Blue in another.

Same colour, alternative name.

So as an artist you’re faced with a dilemma of making a colour decision and hope it will be perfect when you get back to the studio.

You didn’t buy the exact colours recommended in a tutorial you’re following but that shouldn’t matter should it?

It says red, so it will still work the same.

Ah, now we have a problem.

The tutorial seems to have a clean bright pink, wheras you have a dirty, dull salmon.

What went wrong?!

You’re mixing was right, your pigment choice was wrong.

Simple Colour Mixing

Without a clear action plan it can be hard to know where to begin, or where you’ve been going wrong.

You don’t want to waste any more paint, so gaining knowledge on how colours ‘work’ in painting, is crucial.

Sometimes you can feel there is always more to learn, a new colour being released that might ‘fix’ that landscape you’ve been working on for weeks but somehow still isn’t right.

These fixes and fear of colour theory can put off learning the basics that actually help all of your paintings.

With this in mind I’ve developed a new course aimed to help solve this problem and teach absolute beginners the fundamentals of colour mixing.

It assumes we’re starting from ground zero.

But ‘colour theory’ always seems to being me out in a yawn, so I’ve designed the course to be more of a practical painting course, supported by a foundation knowledge of colour.

online colour mixing course

Who is the course for?

If you’re new to acrylic painting or have been painting for years but still have trouble mixing tonally accurate colours and judging colour harmony, then you would see instant improvements on this course.

Why? Because you would have learnt the foundations of colour theory and understand how simple it is to mix and match the perfect colour, every time.

If you’re looking for ‘cheat sheets of colour swatches’ this isn’t the course for you – there’s nothing wrong with specific recipes for colours but I believe having the tools and knowledge is far more powerful to develop as an artist.

Does it cover 100% of colour mixing?

No, this course takes a minimalist approach to move a beginner or someone who feels lost with colour, on to being a painter who is confident with colour mixing and colour choices.

A simple approach

I want to teach you how to mix 80% of the colours you actually need using just 4 colours – in 20% of the time.

Then you can expand your palette, adding in odd paints that achieve a specific colour effect depending on your own personal preferences.

Throughout this course I demonstrate using a traditional, 3 primary & 3 secondary colour, colour wheel.

I use this because when you’re first starting to learn colour mixing, I’m a great believer in simplicity and a less is more approach.

Understanding the properties of paint, relying on your artists eye and letting your new colour mixing intuitions guide you, is a fantastic way to open the world of colour.

Different artists have different approaches to colour mixing, some work with an extreme limited palette using just 3 or 4 muted colours. Others use large extensive palettes that enable them to produce painting quickly, without having to mix colours.

I prefer somewhere in between the two.

There are other colour wheels and colour mixing systems you may come across, such as The Munsell, Quiller wheel or the Yurmby wheel.

Many realist painters and designers relying on print use the Munsell colour notation system for more technical, advanced and exact descriptions of colour.

However, I believe the traditional approach is the easiest and most straightforward to gain a full understanding of colour mixing and work like an artist rather than a technician when finding your confidence with colour.

So if you want to make smart palette choices, use colours that can be used both with acrylics and oils, and want to get instant results then click here to learn more.

The course costs £45 / $72 / €56.

 

 

 

 

 

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Christel December 7, 2012

Once again… here I am your student :))

When you come from Pastel like me, where the colors are all done, this is not always clear what colors take to get the right harmonious mixture to paint… I think learn many things through this new course, others are very informative

Thanks Will, additionally I improved my English hihi

Reply

Will Kemp December 7, 2012

Hey Christel, nice to hear from you, thanks for joining the course, looking forward to seeing your results!

Cheers,
Will

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sherrill pearson December 7, 2012

Hi Will, I think you’re as cute as a bugs ear – whatever that means. ahah.
Anyway, I want to say that you have helped me hugely with how to lay out a palette. thanks for that. i also recently ordered some ‘water’ soluble oil paint from Winsor Newton. Have you any opinion on water soluble oils? I’m terrified because I am in the habit of using acrylics. So used to the fast drying time of acrylic, and the thought of layering with these new paints is worrisome.

Will can you show me (us) how to layer paint in an impasto manner without it turning into a bloody mess. I’m not bad doing this with acrylics but still very shaky on getting desired effects. Check out if you will Melinda Esparza’s work who has a technique I love. It seems fast and loose but applied with a deft hand. She is in Arizona lives practically in the desert and I love that area of the US and want to paint it with that technique.

Would so love your feed back both on her technique etc. Merci Beaucoup!!
Sherrill in Montreal

Reply

Will Kemp December 7, 2012

Hi Sherrill,

Really glad you’re enjoying the website, to answer your questions,

Have you any opinion on water soluble oils?

I personally have always used traditional oil paints so I can’t give a full rounded view of water soluble oils. I have used them and they are quicker drying than traditional oils so coming from acrylics isn’t that bigger jump as you might think.

The only thing I would remember is although they are water mixable they still behave like oil paint, so if working in thin layers use water for laying in washes at the beginning of the painting then build up the layers getting thicker and introduce an oil medium for the final layers, not water. You still have to observe the ‘fat over lean’ rule to avoid cracking.

Can you show me (us) how to layer paint in an impasto manner without it turning into a bloody mess?

Good question, yes, I’m thinking of doing a new series of free articles on Palette knife painting techniques, that shows you how to create a clean but loose painting. I too love this technique – so watch this space!

Hope this helps,

Will

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sherrill pearson December 7, 2012

Further comment to my last comment. I would love to see how you painted that piece in progress (I think) behind you. I like a loose-ish style, not super realistic.
Thanks Will, Sherrill, Montreal

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Lynnita December 8, 2012

Will, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us. I’ve been impressed with the quality of the free videos that you’ve made available here, and have learned lots from them. After lurking around in the freebie videos, I took the plunge and bought one of your acrylic courses a couple of weeks ago. I am so pleased to have done that, as the quality was absolutely excellent. You managed to fit so much into very manageable lessons!

So I couldn’t resist — I had to purchase your colour mixing course right away, and am really looking forward to it. And I’ve just discovered that there’s a bonus video?! Thank you! Way to over-deliver once again.

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Will Kemp December 8, 2012

Hey Lynnita,
Thanks so much for the kind comment, really pleased you’ve been enjoying the acrylic courses.

Looking forward to seeing your successes from the colour mixing course!

Thanks once again,
Will

Reply

danny bell December 12, 2012

Hi Will,

I want to get into portrait painting in oil, but not sure about skin tones. I have a limited amount of colours which include cad red, cad yellow, yellow ochre, burnt sienna , burnt umber and ultramarine. I would like to use yellow ochre for all my base mixes but I was wondering if I could do that? and do you think these colours are enough to cover most skin types? I want to use a limited palette,

many thanks

Reply

Will Kemp December 12, 2012

Hi Danny,

Yes, these colours would be a great starting point.

I wouldn’t use the Cadmium yellow to start with as it will be too harsh and I would mute down the Cadmium red with a touch of the Burnt umber before starting. This will just help stop you from going too highly saturated with the colours.

Good luck with your portrait,

Will

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danny bell December 13, 2012

thank you will

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Sandra Gouvêa December 15, 2012

Hi Will, my name is Sandra. I came across your website today and completely fell in love with it. I’ve just purchased the colour mixing course and can’t wait to get my hands dirty.

I’m from Brazil and have lived in the UK for 11 yrs (I live in Leicester at the moment). My grandma was an extraordinary artist, and she taught me the basics about oil painting. It’s been over 20 years since I painted my last picture. Last week, I decided to paint again – this time with acrylics. I’ve learnt a lot just by reading a few of your posts and watching some of your tutorials on YouTube.

All the best.

Sandra

Reply

Will Kemp December 15, 2012

Hi Sandra,

Thanks so much for your kind comments. Great to hear you have decided to start painting again, really hope you enjoy the course and those lessons from your Grandma come flooding back!

Cheers,
Will

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John December 15, 2012

Ho do Will

I had a quick flick through the ?’s and did not see any oil v acrylic comments but from elsewhere I gather using oils rather than acrylics will still work on the course. Would one also be able to use say series 1 of a brand rather than cads. I often use a vermillion at series 1 rather a cad red. On the other hand its a good excuse to buy cads

cheers

john

Reply

Will Kemp December 15, 2012

Hi John, thanks for joining the course, on the course page there is this question:

What if I work in oil?

Although the demonstrations are in acrylics the course has been designed so you could transfer the skills and knowledge to oils. The smart palette I use are available in acrylic and oils.

Regarding using Series 1 colours, the results will be different due to the colour bias of the pigments, you won’t be able to replace a cadmium red medium with vermillion to achieve the same results. You could use a cadmiumd red hue ( student grade) which will give you a closer match rather than artist quality cadmiums, which in oils, I appreciate, are expensive.

However, throughout the course cad red is primarily used for the colour wheel and as an extra choice to an extended palette, so I don’t use it in the ‘smart palette’ section. If you use very strong reds in your paintings it might be a great secret santa present!!

Cheers,
Will

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KateOz December 15, 2012

Hi Will

Your colour-mixing course is brilliant. So easy and makes so much sense. Thank you!!!

Regards KateOz

Reply

Will Kemp December 15, 2012

Hi Kate,
Thanks for the comment, really pleased you have enjoyed the colour mixing course.

Cheers,
Will

Reply

danny bell December 17, 2012

Hi Will, from your last post you suggested not using cad yellow to start with for portrait mixing.
I was wondering if you could help me with mixing a light skin tone?

I have had success using yellow ochre, cad red, burnt sienna for medium tones, same again plus burnt umber for dark tones. but I’m stuck on trying to mix a light tone without cad yellow? any help would be great.

Reply

Will Kemp December 17, 2012

Hi Danny, I suggest not using cad yellow to start with because it is such a powerful pigment and can easily put your mixes out. If you are still struggling to hit the hue you are after just slowly introduce a touch of cad yellow into your yellow ochre until you reach the desired hue.

Cheers,
Will

P.S. regarding increasing drying times of acrylics just add a touch of ‘retarder’ to your mix.

Reply

danny bell December 18, 2012

Thank you Will, I have also dropped cad red in favour of crimson as I found cad red a bit too strong.

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Will Kemp December 18, 2012

You’re welcome Danny, Crimson can be very handy in portraits, perfect for adding glazes to lips and cheeks.

Cheers,
Will

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Gary December 19, 2012

Hi Will
Really enjoying the course so far. I have made myself a 6 primary colour wheel which I am finding so helpfull creating colours. I attempted to create random colour from magazines and managed on all except for my attempt to recreate the colour of dog hair! Not so good at that yet.
I have also put some of my other paints that I don’t use so much on to a seperate wheelso that I have them as reference.
I have also just bitten the bullit and order my first tube of “posh Paint”… Winsor & Newton Artist Cad Red Light.
I’m very interested to see how it compares to their Galeria range.
Thanks again and I look forward to continuing with the course.

Reply

Will Kemp December 19, 2012

Hi Gary,

Pleased to hear you’re enjoying the course, using a separate colour wheel for reference of your other paints is a great idea. Enjoy the artist quality cadmium red!

Cheers,
Will

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Yevonnie December 23, 2012

Hey Will…I stumbled upon your website a few days ago and I completed my FIRST (ever) acrylic painting on canvas using the Still Life (jug) video. The limited palette makes sense. I am eager to do my next painting. Your teaching style is clear, easygoing, and encouraging. I was afraid of how the painting would turn out, but I was impressed. I believed that I would never be able to paint…thought it was beyond my artistic capabilities. Thank you, thank you, thank you. God bless your work…you provide so much material. I plan to use it…this is a good start as I consider returning to school. (Oh, and I like your painting style..classic with a modern twist, if that even makes sense.) I would like to do a self portrait soon…

Grace and peace…

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Will Kemp December 23, 2012

Hi Yevonnie,
Really pleased that your first painitng exceeding your own expectations, that’s fantastic news! Looking forward to hearing about your artistic progress on the way towards a self portrait.

Thanks for taking the time to let me know,

Cheers,
Will

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Jason Carter January 11, 2013

Will,

Thanks so much for these wonderful videos, they have reignited my passion for creating art! I have been following along for a while now and have several completed pieces and have a question regarding sealing. When you have a completed acrylic piece how do you finish the piece with sealant if at all? Is there a specific product or technique you use to seal the piece to help protect it against the elements? Any help would be much appreciated, and keep up the great work, you have been a great inspiration to me!

Jason

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Will Kemp January 11, 2013

Hi Jason,

Thanks for stopping by, great to hear the videos have helped inspire you.

To answer your question about sealing acrylics, yes, I do seal all my paintings using an isolation coat.

Here’s an article explaining how I do it.

Cheers,

Will

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Katie January 12, 2013

Hello, Will:

I am almost finished with working my way through your color theory class — it is fantastic and worth way more than I paid for it! Thank you so very much for sharing your expertise, experience, and significant talent, not only through your offered courses but your entire website. I feel like I can attend art school from the comfort of my studio, with the added bonus of progressing at my own pace. I also really appreciate that I can access course videos on my iPad as well as my desktop computer.

My next course with you will be the drawing course; I’m sure I will benefit immensely from your teachings in this area as well. Cheers!

Most Sincerely,
Katie

Reply

Will Kemp January 15, 2013

Hi Katie,

Thanks for your lovely message, so pleased to hear you’ve been enjoying the colour mixing course, looking forward to seeing you on the drawing course.

Cheers,
Will

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Agnes March 27, 2013

Hi Will! I had a question on youtube about the blues, but I find the answer here. You really wrote down everything :) !
Have a nice day!
Agnes.

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Will Kemp March 28, 2013

Cheers Agnes, pleased you found the answer you were looking for,

Happy Easter!

Will

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danny May 14, 2013

Hi will before I embark on your colour mixing course I was wondering if there are any colours you use that cannot be found in the Windsor and Newton Georgian range in oil? Thanks

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Will Kemp May 14, 2013

Hi Danny,

With the Georgian paint range I think you’re pretty good, I use a couple of phthalo blue’s ( one with a green bias and one with a red bias) and there is only one in the Georgian range, but for the demo I use it on this would still work well. Apart from that you have pretty much all of the colours I demonstrate with within that brand of paint.

Cheers,

Will

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kathryn August 14, 2013

Will, I love your website and your generosity in sharing so much free of charge! Those of us on fixed incomes really appreciate (and love) you for that! Question: When you are mixing colors with your palette knife, you seem to working on paper of some kind. I have a porcelain palette and a plastic one, but your method on the paper seems so much “better”. My palettes end up looking a mess! What are you using? Many thanks, Kathryn

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Will Kemp August 16, 2013

Hi Kathryn,

Nice to hear from you, I demonstrate using a tear-off palette. There are usually 50 tear-off sheets per palette that can be used with oil or acrylics, I favour a larger size to give you more mixing space when you’re working.

Hope this helps,
Cheers,
Will

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Fabio June 5, 2014

Hi Will!
I purchased the course a few days ago, simply amazing!
Is there any valid (non cadmium) alternative to cad orange? I remember you mentioned hansa yellow medium to replace cad yellow, but I can’t find any hansa orange (so I believe it doesn’t exist, does it? :D)

Thank you again for the fantastic course, I am learning a lot!

Fabio

Reply

Will Kemp June 6, 2014

Hi Fabio,

Great to hear from you and so pleased you’re enjoying the course. Yes the Hansa yellow medium is a great alternative to cadmium yellow.

For a Cadmium orange try a Pyrrole Orange.

This is from the Golden Acrylics website when discussing alternatives to Cadmium pigments:

However, with the introduction of the Pyrrole family of pigments in 1988, there appear to be good offsets, in terms of these identified criteria, for the orange to medium red range.

The pyrrole family of pigments is currently represented on the GOLDEN palette by three colors, Pyrrole Orange, Pyrrole Red Light, and Pyrrole Red. These are strong tinting, high chroma colors with excellent lightfastness.

This will be your closest match, not quite as intense but very close.

Enjoy the rest of the course.

Cheers,
Will

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