After watching Mark's wonderful videos, and getting my paints ready to paint, I sat down yesterday and.....failed..
I set a still life in my garage, its a green apple on a black table, black back drop and one source of light. I've mixed and mixed and mixed, but my greens become muddy or they become yellow-green, and that's what happens after 45 minutes of mixing. Please help! Its becoming discouraging.. What am I doing wrong? I've watched the color mixing video, but i can't achieve the right green-apple green..


  • @Denny82 please don't become discouraged.  In the beginning it can take a long time to get some of these color.  I remember!  
    Denny82NanaBean[Deleted User]
  • Thank you all for the replies! I will post a picture of my setup tonight after work.

    @Kaustav, Thanks, i'm trying to make it a habit to use the color wheel, so i'll be printing it out today.

    @davidwwilson , I believe i'm using winsor & newton brand oils, I mixed them with a medium as best as i could while following Mark's mixing video. Once I'm out, i'll be purchasing Mark's Geneva brand paints. Also, I'll be posting a pic of my still life tonight. Thanks!

    @Ronna , Thanks for the reply. Any advice on how you over came the color matching struggles?

    Flatty , Thanks, how long did it take you to get it down to a science?

  • edited July 2016
    Hi Denny,  Don't worry about whether your mixes look muddy or not.  Most of them will look muddy even with high chroma objects.  Better yet, forget the whole idea of mud.  You either match the color that you see or you don't.  No color is muddy in isolation.  Only a small portion of your apple will be a high chroma (strong) apple green.  The parts that are turning away from the light will be lower chroma muddy/earthy looking mixes, eventually ending in a black/brown color for shadows.  If the color you mix matches the portion of the apple that you're seeing, mix it, put it on the canvas, and move on.  Don't try to bump up the green, "fix" or second guess.  Finish the entire apple before you try to adjust those colors no matter how wrong they look.  Mark has a video on this where he shows colors a well lit scene from movies to show that, in isolation they are much less vibrant than one would think: 
    KaustavDenny82[Deleted User]
  • Like Martin just said... Most colors found in nature are muddy. Try to concentrate on the value only.
    For my first DMP painting... All my colors looked completely off and muddy.i soon realised that was because there was no neighboring color to compare the colors I had freshly mixed on my palette. That was after nearly one hour of color mixing.
    Concentrate only on value. Your colors might be off. But you will definitely retain the character of your still life.
    You need to trust everyone here.. Take the leap.. And slowly start painting. I'm sure you'll be surprised how different your painting will look once the entire(and I mean entire, infact I'll be posting my second DMP to highlight this point) canvas. Then start asking yourself if you have messed something up.
    Good luck
    Denny82Martin_J_Crane[Deleted User]
  • @Ronna , Thanks for the reply. Any advice on how you over came the color matching struggles?

    I still struggle sometimes.  I just don't stress out over it anymore.  The real problem comes when you finally get the right color mixed and you didn't make enough  :p
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  • @Ronna, I gotta let go and just do, and not stress over it like you said. And not mixing enough can be a headache for sure..
  • Secret to mixing colours I think is to add colours a small bit at a time. Have you noticed on the vids that Mark picks up only a small amount of paint at a time? You can always very easily add more paint but once it's been added to the mix it is harder to "undo". To help mixing try mixing with a small diamond shaped metal palette knife instead of a brush. Less wastage, keeps brushes cleaner and you can more easily gauge just how much paint you are actually picking up. If your pile of paint is getting too large, use only a small portion of it to attempt your next  addition to conserve paint...painting supplies are it is easier to mix smaller portions of paint than larger portions. If all fails. Scrap your pile and start all over again. It is, afterall, only paint. You can use that paint to practice brushstrokes. Good luck.
  • @davidwwilson , here is a pic of my setup. Poor quality, but you get where i am starting.
  • @Kaustav, this is the green color i'm struggling with.
  • edited July 2016
    Hi @Denny82 remember first check values then the nature of the colors. First paint a dark background. After that follow the steps below:

    1.You have to figure out the darkest value in the apple- here the bottom and lowest corners. You have to mix a green which has more blue to it and check the value I.e. how dark are they. As soon as the value is determined add a slight amount of burnt umber as the color is of darker orangy green and check the color if it looks right. If it becomes a little darker then you hv to add a little yellow (make it lighter) again to match the value.
    2.Now the funny thing is the rest of the apple has more or less only one value (a step higher than the lowest corners and bottom). Only the colors are different. 
    3.But before doing the big middle portion you will notice that the sides of the whole apple has a faint brown line. So you do that.
    4.Now lower middle portion has a green with more blue but slightly more yellow than the first step you mixed for the bottom corners as it is a step lighter than that. Check it until u reach there. This time no burnt umber. 
    5.Now the upper green portion is within same value range but has more yellow to it. While mixing more yellow if u feel that value is getting very light then u have to add a slight amount of reddish purple to it to kill the yellow slightly so that the value remains the same.
    6.The top right corner has same value but of slightly orangy color. So add red to your previous pile and check if that became slightly darker. If yes then add small amount of yellow.
    7.There are slight transitions between values which you will blend only after putting down all the colors you have mixed in their required spots, not before that.

    The instructions look longish but follow them thoroughly. I think this will help you. Colors may appear different to you slightly because I am looking at a photo.
  • There are a lot of good comments here, but I thought I'd add, by way of consolation, that I have wasted TONS of paint trying to mix certain greens. I use the Geneva paints, and some greens I just couldn't get. In the end depending on the green, I've added a touch of regular paints, sometimes veridian, sometimes phthalo turquoise, or thalo green or thalo blue. Once I resigned myself to using a touch of these non-Geneva paints, I just got on with painting and didn't worry too much about how good or bad I was at mixing. It's funny how elusive some colors can be. I'll spend hours trying to mix a certain yellow/gray until I finally realize it's not yellow/gray at all, but muddy pink/purple. In a way this is part of the joy of painting, as frustrating as it can be.
  • Just my two cents.. From what I can see.. You aren't using a shadow box.. So you seem to be getting the main source of light from some kind of window behind you. As the light appears cool.
    Just make sure you're getting the same intensity of light on both your canvas and palette as well.
    It is also important that you are working in a studio where you have a source of light that has a constant temperature.
    For eg. I've found on a hot sunny day.. When I paint inside my studio(bedroom :#) of i were to use my tubelight and the natural daylight in conjunction to illuminate my set up... i could never match colors. However if I were to block one of the two sources of light. I could easily match color. 
    I hope I'm being clear?
    If you've already set up your studio properly.. Then please disregard my comment.
  • Yeah! @H.M makes a valid point. I don't use daylight as I mostly work during evening (except Saturdays and Sundays) I also use my bedroom as my studio :# I have bought 5500 LED bulb and it is placed at 35 degree angle above me. This set-up never changes.

  • If I spend a lot of time mixing a color and don't have enough i.e. running out ...I don't know what to do because I obviouslly don't remember what combinations I used to get there. 
  • @Explore , this is a 3 year-old thread. Denny82 who started it hasn't been on here since April of 2017. There's nothing wrong with commenting on an old thread/discussion but be aware that when you do the thread will go into the RECENT DISCUSSIONS folder. If you have a similar question it's best to start a new discussion of your own. You will then get a notice whenever someone adds a comment.

    As to your comment this is a frequent question for newcomers and there is really only one good answer. That is  START OVER on your pallete. Some folks video their mixing process but the colors may be inaccurate due to the video equipment  and playback devices. Don't worry the mixing gets easier with each painting.
  • Thank you. I'm new here and I didn't pay attention to the dates :s
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