Demonstration of Colour mixing

Ali Cockrean


For this demonstration, Ali used acrylic paints; 3 primary colours, 3 additional colours and white. For the demonstration the primary colours were cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow medium, and ultramarine. The 3 additional colours were magenta, burnt umber, and pthalo turquoise, and the white was titanium white. A large white plate was used as a palette and the colours were mixed using a palette knife.

For the first part of the demonstration Ali showed how to produce a colour wheel.

Firstly the three primary colours were applied

The secondary colours were then added by mixing adjacent pairs of the primary colours. It is not as simple as adding equal amounts of each colour since different colours have different strengths or staining powers. This process becomes easier with practice and experience.After the secondary colours are added to the colour wheel, the tertiary colours are added by mixing the secondary colour with a primary colour.

Ali then created a second colour circle with the three secondary colours produced above, then mixing the adjacent secondary colours to produce three new brown colours as shown below.

These three new brown colours were progressively lightened with white to provide the range of colours shown below.

Ali then showed us how to produce black and a range of greys. The black was created by mixing ultramarine and burnt umber. By adjusting the ratio slightly a cooler or warmer tone of black can be produced. This can then be diluted with white to produce numerous grey tones.

Ali then moved on to her additional colours, starting with the magenta (magenta and cadmium red produces a vivid crimson). The pthalo turquoise is useful for tropical sea colour. It can be darkened with burnt umber to produce a really dark green and when mixed with something in the yellow area of the colour circle produces some useful foliage colours.

Lastly Ali showed how to produce some simple skin tones. Starting with white and adding a small amount of cadmium red produces a slightly blushed flesh tone which can be made more natural by adding a slight touch of yellow (too much and it turns orange!). To make a slightly peachy colour a touch of blue can be added.

Ali's equipment

Ali with the result of her demonstration which was greatly enjoyed by all.