Illuminating Color Mixing

Iluminators were known to layer paints more than mix them. Yet there are written notes and illuminations that show they mixed colors too, especially later in the Middle Ages. 

Mixing colors makes its own problems. The more colors you combine, eventually ends with mud. 
Over-mixing also dulls the paint combination. 

Learn by doing: mix two gouache primary colors

Which colors should you use for your primary paints? See how different these gouache mixtures appear when I use different paint colors to mix for my primary colors. 

I used Bristol board, Artist Loft paints, and a 10 broad flat brush. For each sample, I began with the lighter color on the left, added the color on the right end and expected to end with it. 

Paint Mixing Explorations

With a dab of the lighter color, I added a teeny-tiny paint amount of the color at the farthest right end. I blended the paints then stroked the Bristol board with the mixed color. Then I added another small amount of the farthest right color to my previous mix. I repeated this until I reached the color on the right, my darker color. I gradually mixed the paints and stroked them across the paper’s space. 

Exploring your paints this way develops your mixology skills so you make the color combination you want every time. It also helps you learn in case your paint collection misses a tube color you want.

Learn by doing: color swatch challenge

Down-load an illuminated manuscript picture and cut out a limited color swatch from one area. With the paints you own mix colors until placing your downloaded sample on top of your painted swatch seems to make it vanish into your mixed color.

Keep a record. If your first attempt is not an exact match, keep playing with your paints. It may also take a different paint tube from the store to get it right. With perseverance, you’ll be able to match any color you want. Soon you’ll do this without thinking.
If you are into color mixing, keep a journal. Make a swatch of each mixture you make. Note the paints and colors you used. 

Playing with colors is fun and expands your skills. You also become more color-ware. And you avoid making mud.

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