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Paint, Brushes and mediums. By Don Finkeldei: Some suggestions about paints and palate layout.  Also, some tips about brushes and mediums than can help you become a better painter.

The paints used on a palette vary greatly by the preference of each artist.  Some use very few and some use 10 or more different tube colors.  I personally believe in a very limited palate for several reasons. 

  1. Color harmony will be easier to achieve.

  2. Learning to manipulate and mix a few colors is easier than trying to master a wide range of colors.  It's easier to arrive at a desired color, hue and value

  3. You don't need to lug around as many tubes of paint when traveling.

  4. palette preparation is quicker.

I use Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White.  Cad Yellow Medium is a warm yellow and Cad Lemon Yellow is cool.  Having a warm and a cool yellow helps me adjust the color temperature of my mixed paints.  Sometimes I add Alizarin Crimson and Viridian although I can get by without them.  Purchasing paint (and grade) from the same manufacturer is important.  I'll explain why later.  I use Utrecht 150 ml. tubes. or

From these colors, I mix my gray's.  Two parts Ultramarine Blue with 1 part each of Cad Yellow Medium and Cad Red light mixes to a very neutral dark gray (All Utrecht paints because they are balanced in intensity and will consistently result in what you expect).  From that pile of paint, I add some white to make higher keyed grays and modify these by adding more blue or more red/yellow so I have a good variety of warm and cool grays.  These grays are then used to modify the intensity, color temperature, hue and value of the pure paints.  It's all an adjustment process and having these pools of paint ready to grab makes arriving at the color/value you need a little quicker.  In the end, it's all an adjustment process.  If I have Alizarin and Viridian, I'll mix a little of them in the grays for harmony purposes.

A big palette helps.  I use a 16 x 20 glass surface, painted on the back side with auto primer gray to tone down the palate a little.  You can buy spray cans of auto primer at any hardware/auto store.  Auto primer is always FLAT NEUTRAL.  Neutral gray because it's "NEUTRAL AND DOESN'T  BIAS YOUR COLOR PERCEPTION"

Paint on the palette is arranged  in a logical order going from Warm to Cool.

 Palette Arrangement


I select the biggest brushes I think I can get by with for the masses I'll need.  A variety of brush edges and sizes.  Filberts for softer edges, flats for harder edges.  I also try to keep two brushes each... one used for dark colors (not much white in the brush) and one for higher value colors (more white in the brush).  Trying to mix a dark color with a brush that has white in the bristles is almost impossible.  If you need to, clean your brush with your thinner before mixing a dark color.  Also, try to use a palate knife to mix paints.  That's why it's called a palate knife.


I use Liquin by Winsor Newton when I need to thin paint.  Liquin will also make the paint dry faster. Liquin is also good for wetting your painting if you need to make corrections after the paint has dried.  You'll be able to work edges much easier if you apply a thin coat of Liquin before re-painting an area, or even the whole canvas if need be.


# rebo41 2013-02-24 19:44
I think you mean Liquin, not Liquitex.
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# Don Finkeldei 2013-02-24 19:46
Yes, I meant Liquin instead of Liqutex. Sometimes the typing precedes my thinking.
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