When you’re starting your watercolor journey, you really don’t need to start with a million different paints.

You really only need three – yellow, red, and blue.

Why those three?

Because you can mix every other color from those three.

“What about white?” You get white by simply leaving the watercolor paper blank.

The watercolor paper itself is white or an off white. When I “paint” my models’ whites of their eyes or their teeth, I leave it blank. If I get a little bit of paint there by accident, I quickly grab a brush, wet it well, then dry it off enough so there’s not too much water, then get that color off their teeth or the whites of their eyes asap.

I also have paper towels ready and tear a small piece of paper towel off, then pick up that water. It’s very effective if I move fast (and there’s not too much paint).

Main mixed colors

Green is yellow and blue.

Orange is yellow and red.

Brown is green and red.

Purple is red and blue.

Pink is red watered down.

Black is a combination of yellow, blue, and red but in the right percentages. Yes, seriously. You can create black and it actually looks pretty good.

And gray is white and black. Or of course in the case of watercolors, water down your black.

You create different shades of these colors by different amounts of your mix and different amounts of water. You’ll learn all this stuff simply by painting.

Now, I’m not saying you need to only buy 3 colors ever. I’d be a hypocrite if I said that because I have well over 50 tubes of paint.

But it’s something you should know because one major difference between a good artist and a mediocre one is the good artist has a solid color foundation. A mediocre artist is mediocre with colors.

Categories: Watercolors

1 Comment

What is gouache? – Roman Riva Art · June 25, 2022 at 4:44 pm

[…] that this is yet another reason I emphasize really knowing your colors. You have to make it match or else it will look like […]

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