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Artist's Palette

In the real world there are no perfect primaries.  When artists work with pigments and dyes, they have to choose the best colours for mixing purposes.  Mixing one primary colour with the closest adjacent primary (see figure below) will give a brighter and cleaner secondary colour than those further away on the colour wheel. 
    The concept of Colour Temperature (Warm (w), Cool (c), or neutral) is useful.  When creating a painting, choosing all warm colours or all cool colours will produce a more harmonious result than carelessly mixing them.  Painting a small area of the opposing temperature can then be used to add emphasis or interest to a particular part of the subject matter.

The 16 colours on the figure are basic to a proffesional palette.  Your subject matter may dictate additional colours be added to minimise mixing.  For example, portrait painting would be assisted by more Oranges and by warm Browns.

Note:- I have used the most general name possible.  If it is not on the front of the label,  check the ingredient list on the back.  Some pigments are expensive so they are replaced with a mixture of cheaper ingredients.  Pure pigments have more reliable mixing characteristics.

If you are just starting out and do not want buy all 16 of the paints, then you can use the Six Primaries (plus White) palette.

In this system, you get the brightest secondary colours by mixing the primary colours that are closest on the wheel as follows:-

Other colour mixtures will be duller but may be just what you want.


Artist's Palette (17190 bytes)


We think of the optical primary colours - Red, Yellow, and Blue - as real; but they are in fact abstract concepts.  We choose a real-world paint to match our abstract idea of a colour as closely as possible.  Colour mixing is complicated by the fact that a paint is not a pure spectral colour but is itself already a mixture of reflected colours.

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