Using grey

Okay This will probably not make any sense.... can someone explain if I understand this correctly or not.... I have seen people (YouTube, several videos) of people mixing up like 3 shades of grey on their palette in addition to the colors they need.... they seem to dip into one to desaturate a color....?

So I thought black/white is to darken and go up/down in value scale....

So are the greys for making a color neutral? Just to change the brightness or chroma?

Another mixing question I don’t understand. Why do they need three greys (dark, med, light) on their palette?.... One guy saves all his paint at the end and makes it a grey for later use. What is the benefit of having all that grey?

(And these videos are not is old of a guy copying a Sargent painting)(one guy does say his orange was a little too orange so he added grey)

Do you guys frequently use grey as well? 

I would just just play around with it all but I don’t want to waste my paint doing so.
Also with Geneva paints there doesn’t seem to be a point to this ... mix the color, match it, go. 

The colors they mix seem fine to me then they go and add some grey lol... why? 
(this post probably won’t make any sense lol, sorry)


  • edited November 2017

    cant find the other video

    also even though they aren’t using Geneva paints... they have other colors but deliberately mix greys to put on palette to dip into ... if that helps with understanding my questions lol

    I guess I want you to explain their thought process to me LOL jk

    I feel like I’m watching snl Cow bell..... it’s good the color is good but what I’m really needing is some more grey, can you get me some more grey....

    (what the heck they need all that grey for)
  • edited November 2017
    @jswartzart, there are many more greys in our visual world than pure colours. Perhaps one of the few times we see pure colours in nature is in a rainbow and even they are transient and somewhat attenuated by cloud, time of day and other atmospheric vagueries.  Even the pigments in the paints we use are not exactly the same as what we perceive in any given subject whether it be a still life, landscape or whatever. The colour of  any given subject is rarely, if ever, what comes out of a tube and is always modified  by shadow, reflected light etc. So, if realism is what you are after, you'll always be dealing in shades of coloured greys.

    I guess you could try saving left over paint to use in greys. But oil paint dries and won't stay workable forever. And, frankly, I'd rather start with a clean palette for every painting because, unless you are painting the same subject over and over again under exactly the same lighting, the colour of your greys (but maybe not the values) will always be different and so you'll have to modify your saved grey anyway, and you'll be mixing old paint with fresh which may cause other problems.  Certainy, unmixed colours - red, yellow, blue, brown, white and black of the basic DMP palette should not be ditched if they are still useable but I think that, generally, if a painting is finished then so is the mud on your palette.

    But maybe I'm wrong. If so, I hope others will correct me. 
  • I know exactly what your talking about. I frequent this painters website, his name is Paul Foxton, and he strongly advocates this technique. 

    He calls his mixing method "color bracketing", here's a video on his mixing technique:
    It works well for him and it seems to result in very accurate colors. However when I tried it it seemed like a very cumbersome, slow, and overly complicated way of mixing color and I enjoy Marks method much more. 

    The point of the gray is he works hard to match the exact hue and value first. Then he mixes a gray of the exact same value so that he can desaturate the color if he needs to without altering the hue or value at all. That's why that one person had a dark medium or light grays, so that he could desaturate without bumping around the value to much. Paul Foxton just takes it a step further and mixed the exact value gray he needs. If I remember correctly, he even makes his own tubes of neutral grays for this purpose. 
  • Obviously these guys you've been watching have already learned to mix paint and don't need M.C. any more. Watch Mark mixing paint when he's painting(not teaching) and he arrives at his colors in a flash by intuition and experience. Those other guys like to have the extra grays on their palettes as INTERMEDIATE color based on their own experiences most likely for all the reasons you guessed. That's my guess.  Since I haven't achieved Mark's expertise with mixing colors and I don't want to become CONFUSED while I'm learning, I decided some time ago not to watch those other guys. I don't block in with acrylic colors (MJSmith), I don't paint with a palette knife and I don't blend with a 4" house painting brush like Bill Alexander. When I get confident with DMP I'll explore those other styles and methods.
  • Here is what I believe to be true:

    Given a pure color, you can make it lighter with white, darker with black.  Value changes.

    But if my color is too saturated, I need to desaturate, or reduce chroma.  One way to desaturate is mix with a grey of the right value.  Another way is to mix in the complementary color.

    It's made more complicated by whites having different transparencies, and blacks having warm and cool tendencies.  If you use the gray technique, then it means you are working with various greys often, and keeping them just means less wasted paint.

    Mark's mixing is about making corrections that change both value and chroma.  What Mark tells us to do is get the value right first, then get the color right.  What Mark does is different, which is to make adjustments that affect both at the same time, based on experience and skill.

    Paul Foxton is going for extreme precision value matching.  He has a video ("Time Unfolding") where he spends half the total time getting the first three 'anchor' colors spot on.  It's even more painstaking than Mark's color group and steps preparation.
  • Thank You!!!! @tassieguy @edavison @BOB73 @PaulB

    This explains it all .... for a moment I thought ..”Am I off my rocker to wonder about this” lol
    But it kept showing up on people’s palettes in videos....And I couldn’t understand why in the world they needed all that. 

    Really appreciate your responses!
  • SummerSummer -
    edited December 2017
    Using the DMP method, when I get to the stage where I need to mix one puddle with an adjacent puddle to the right or left, grey happens naturally where there is red, yellow, and blue in the third puddle that I am creating--with a little white.  And, dirty brushes will have all sorts of grey values in the heel, belly, bristle, and toe areas because grey happens where red, yellow, and blue are mixed with some white.     
  • Brushes have bellies and toes? ... No wonder they're so tickleish.
  • I thought Summer was painting with her dog for a minute.. ;)
  • Here's an example I should have included above.  I find myself mixing variations of this color a lot:

    It's a mid to light grey with a purplish tint.  I can make this in two ways, although there are no doubt more:

    1. Mix black and white to get a value of grey that is slightly lighter than I want. Then mix blue and red separately to get a dark purple, and then add small amounts of that purple to the grey until I get it.

    2. Mix red and blue for a vivid purple, lighten it with white to a slightly darker value than what I want, then kill the purple saturation and simultaneously lighten it by adding some complementary yellow.

    I prefer the second method, because it feels like if I get good at it, I can achieve the mix with fewer steps, and I learn something about color.  I find that sometimes I can just dab my brush in red, blue, white, yellow, and it gets pretty close first try.  And sometimes it's a disaster.
  • I believe where my confusion came from was instead of the complimentary color it was grey for desaturation .... Interesting to know both achieve the results for it.
  • There is no one way to do colour mixing..
  • SummerSummer -
    edited November 2017
    Richard_P said:
    There is no one way to do colour mixing..

    Is that what they mean when they say there's the right way and the wrong way then there's my way?  Hmm.  :)
  • That's the way they do it in Never-Neverland. I'm sure @Kingston is right and that's the next process I will pursue after I have a few (or more) paintings done with Mark's method. Mark teaches a concentration on values before color and that's my biggest problem area.  
  • Well the way I see it is that pretty much all of the above methods are just different ways of getting to the same end point, from slightly different ways of thinking about it. In the right proportions orange and blue make grey; purple and yellow make grey, and red and green make grey. So to make a dull grey green (and ignoring tinting with white) you can start with a bright green (blue + yellow) and kill it with red, or you can make a neutral grey out of yellow and (red + blue), then change its chroma to make it greener by adjusting the amounts of blue and yellow. So its all the same pigments, just a different mixing order and process. That's a bit of a simplification as we can use different sources of grey (e.g. BU and UB), but I think the concept is sound. I do like Mark's method out of all the ones I have seen - its just seems intuitive to me; but obviously others find other ways of thinking about it equally intuitive.

    This is a great discussion.
  • Right @Roxy that is the DMP way and following DMP way is easier to maintain the values.
  • Kingston said:
    Blue and orange. No brown earth colors kill color. 
    With Geneva black being a mix of blue and umber, and with umber just being a dark orange, aren't we saying the same thing?
  • edited December 2017

    Along with this thread on greys, color, temperature, and so forth I believe this quote (last sentence)
    from a previous thread sums it up nicely for me.

    (when color gets to complicated to think about and I don’t understand it anymore I wanna give up.... but I like the simplicity of just match the color and paint.) I think I will actually write that down and post it next to my little geneva color card.

  • edited December 2017
    That card is awesome - I also have the color chart printed which saves SO much time - when looking at a color or tone, I look at the color chart and get there rather quickly.  I should make my own color charts with the Geneva paints but I am lazy and because @Kingston did it for us, I printed it and keep it handy.
  • When I make my own color chart, should I make on a canvas-toned background? or white?
  • SummerSummer -
    edited December 2017
    BOB73 said:
    When I make my own color chart, should I make on a canvas-toned background? or white?
    I've only seen white, or washes of very light grey, even slightly pinkish.  My guess would be to use a near white, like a light grey because more of the whiter and darker mixes would then be distinguishable from the background.
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