A basic lesson that any painter needs to know is how to mix a variety of greys without having to use a blend of black and white, or Paynes Grey.
Greys are a very useful tone when painting “tonal” paintings, or for creating atmospheric perspective.
The basic method to remember is that opposite colours on the colour wheel will “knock’ each other out creating a very dark grey. By adding a small amount of white the grey will become apparent for each of these mixes.
The great thing about mixing your own greys is that you can make a range of cool or warm greys, or greys that hint at one of the colours you have used to create it. for example you may want a greenish grey, or a warm purple-grey, so you can use a mix of colours to achieve these.
Try mixing a purple with its opposite colour in equal portions and then add some white, or a mix of blue with orange then adding white.
Another mix to try that I also use instead of black, is an equal mix of Alizerin Crimson and Viridian. Together these create a beautiful near black, but when white is added result a beautiful grey. By altering the proportion of one of these colours to the other you can either warm or cool the resultant ‘black’ or grey.
These methods can be used with oil and acrylic paints, and I have also tried it with water colours, but thinned the mix with water to allow the white paper to do the lightening instead of adding white. In the case of water colours adding white will make the paint opaque and ‘milky’ which is not the best or traditional look for this medium.
To see more examples of how to mix a variety of greys visit the Winsor & Newton web site at:
Until next time, happy painting.