How to get the perfect netral colour

edited February 2018 in Color Mixing
I was pretty wondering how to get the most perfect netral colour by mixing.i needed it for the background of my pallet. In the tutorial mark shows to paint the underneath of the pallet with the colour he uses to stain the canvas.but in his geneva pallet he says that its the most netral colour tge background of canvas is. I want to acheive the colour which is present In the original geneva pallet for the under background!!
(I never stain my canvases)is it necessary. 
Also, how does the under colour of pallet effects! 


  • dencaldencal -
    edited February 2018

    Welcome to the Forum.

    Toning the canvas and palette is all about providing a visual environment for your eyes and sense of color judgement. The neutral tone allows you to accurately mix and apply subtle nuances of value without being glared out by a bright white surface.

    Some of the benefits include;

    Creates a receptive surface for oil paint.
    Assists in sealing and separating the cotton/linen fabric from the oil in the oil paint.
    Adds tonal depth to transparent paint in the top layer.
    Allows the eye to mix and apply correct values without being influenced by a white surface.
    Reduces glare from studio lighting.
    Contributes to a balanced harmony in the limited palette.
    Eliminates the white pinhole problem evident in untoned canvases.
    Can be left to show in the final painting in small patches and not be a distracting white error.

    Getting the perfect neutral color is a process of mixing white with a small amount of burnt umber, or black.
    The result should be number five in one (white) to ten (black) tonal scale.


  • @dencal .thank you so much for the help. 
    As far the mixing is concerned, do you mean to say that it can be burnt umber or black with white and value should be just in between black and white.

    So is it like ,i can go with black and white to get a greyish colour ,,or instead go for burnt umber and white for the mixture.

    Any difference In these neutral colours as far as toning is concerned.
    Sorry if i sound awkward,stupid etc lol

  • Hussain

    Yes. Your toning layer can be mid brown or mid grey.

    Imagine if you used a mid yellow toning and applied a semi transparent blue for the sky, only to end up with a green sky above the green grass.

    Neutral means in this case, in the middle, no too dark, not too light and no adverse influence on the top paint layer/s.

    I quite like using black canvas, while not neutral it makes your colors pop. Also saves a lot of tedious background painting.


  • Thanks @dencal
    You made it easier to understand.thanjs again
  • Recently I've mixed burnt umber, lamp black and fast dry white for the stain, I get dark warm grey. I really like it, and I agree with all the benefits that Denis mentioned above. It's incredible how color just pops off the canvas like that. And I am enjoying my painting sessions more. 
  • You can achieve near neutral grays using combinations of ivory black, a bit of yellow ocher and white, or ivory black, a bit of raw umber and white.  There are other combinations, such as using complements, but usually by the time you get a neutral with complements, you've mixed close to a gallon of the stuff. 

    Ivory black is really a very dark blue, so using a small amount of it's compliment (yellow ocher or raw umber [a very dark yellow]) achieves the neutral very quickly.

    Another very good source of a near neutral gray is a paint from Williamsburg called Italian Black Roman Earth.  It mixes as close to a neutral as you can get from a paint straight out of the tube.
  • @broker12 @Forgivenes @dencal
    Appreciate the help.
    I have been travelling for more than a month around and i recently started painting, so back in the place where i paint i have these glass palletes with white background.gonna replace them asap, after i get back home eventually after couple of days. !:-D

  • I hope someone can answer my concerns about using Geneva canvas stain (both palette and canvas).  I followed Mark’s instructions for each, and feel the shade is far darker than the neutral objective.  Almost chocolate! 
    I scraped off the 2 layers of stain from palette, and about to try my own mixing.  Any similar opinions?
  • hewber

    Chocolate would probably work ok. I sometimes use black and it works well.
    No need to scrape anything off the canvas, just add a new coat of a lighter value.
    Mark shows his preferred value, by progressively adding white, in this video.
    As Mark says the colour is not critical, it is a neutral value that is not too dark or too light he aims for.

Sign In or Register to comment.