Is it just me or is choosing the right white difficult?

I'm still in the learning process and was trying to work with whites because it's cheaper and doesn't need as much  color mixing. Sometimes I the whites look different, and when color matching, different shades of white appear to match, but when put side by side they look so different.

If it matters, I check colors on a palette knife with dried on paint to avoid reflection.


  • DryPaintBrush

    Yep. Whites are difficult to match.

    Needs caution, too much white is often used to brighten colour. The result is often a chalky, flat looking scene, lacking a focus zone.

  • Over the years, I've had more trouble with the subtleties of white than any other color.
  • Agree on the difficulty in matching whites.  I try to use it sparingly. 
  • I don't understand what you mean by working with whites and colour matching. Do you mean you use different types of white pigment, such as zinc, titanium and you are painting large areas of white? Or do you mean you are painting scenes with lots of very light colours like snow, so that it is white with a little bit of tint and trying to match very light passages? Sorry, I must be slow everyone else knows what you mean.
    I think the more neutral a colour is, the more you mix towards greys or olives, whether light or dark, the more difficult to match. Greys seem infinite. I have to ask the same questions like: What colour does it lean towards and if my grey is leaning towards a different colour, what should I add to shift it? More or less chroma (ie, do I need to neutralise it further)? Lighter or darker? Warmer or cooler? This would apply with very light passages.
    Also recognise the underlying colour of your white. Titanium is quite cool, for instance. I take steps to warm it (cad yellow light often for sunlight) and Mark Carder gives some good advice about certain colours to not use white to lighten to avoid chalkiness. I think the orange spectrum(?)
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