Core skills: oils

Howard Lyon ex­plains how to ar­range the pal­ette and mix your colours ef­fec­tively.

ImagineFX - - Contents - Howard has worked as an il­lus­tra­tor and art di­rec­tor, as well as a fine artist for gal­leries and collectors. You can see his art at www.howard­lyon.com.

Let’s start by cov­er­ing how to get paint out on to your pal­ette. I like to ar­range my colours from the most in­tense to the less in­tense, grouped into warm and cool colours.

I’ve seen stu­dents squeeze out colour ran­domly and it be­comes tricky to keep things or­gan­ised as the paint­ing pro­gresses. Choose a lay­out, stick with it and you won’t have to think about where your colours are.

I’ll mix up a pile (or nut) of paint and make ad­just­ments to the pile by mix­ing colour into a por­tion of it. If you remix the whole pile it can get away from you and then the whole nut is wasted. For ex­am­ple, if I have a base skin tone that I need to make cooler or warmer, I’ll mix into the left and right sides of it, sav­ing some of the orig­i­nal colour.

Your colours will stay cleaner if you can mix with two or three colours in­stead of six or seven. It also helps to re­duce the in­ten­sity of your colours by mix­ing in a grey of the same value, in­stead of mix­ing in a com­ple­ment or adding black. In sum­mary, mix un­til you have the right colour. Check it, ad­just it and then start paint­ing.

2 Mix­ing on your pal­ette

Use a pal­ette knife rather than your brush to mix larger paint piles. This will help keep paint out of your brush fer­rule (the metal col­lar that holds the bris­tles). Keep the mixed paint or­gan­ised and if you need to, scrape your pal­ette down so you have a clean space to mix colours.

1 Ar­rang­ing your paint on the pal­ette

It isn’t crit­i­cal how you ar­range colours, as long as you’re con­sis­tent so that you know where your colours are. Some artists pair warm and cool ver­sions of each colour or ar­range them in a ROYGBIV string with black and white at the ends. I rec­om­mend keep­ing things or­gan­ised and con­sis­tent.

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