How to Mix Colors:Oil Painting, How to Mix Browns, Split Primary Palette

How to Mix Colors:Oil Painting, How to Mix Browns, Split Primary Palette

This is Kevin McCain with Kevin McCain Studios. And we’re going to talk about mixing our earth tones and our browns. Earth tones and browns are
wonderful colors that help unify a painting because they’re low in intensity and they
just help the brighter colors shine more because you know they against all
these more brown colors. So over here I have laid out
primary colors. We will be mixing for our primary colors. If anyone’s had any experience with
crayons as a kid knows well we just mix those this kinda brownish color. We’re going to try to control it a
little bit better than that I have in my yellows I have two
yellows I have and of each primary have two sides of it.
I have my green yellow and my orange yellow. From my red I have my orange red and my violet red and for my blue I have
my violet blue and my green blue. And so I going to use these to help me mix these wonderful browns. The
easiest way to mix browns is use complementary colors and by using
these primaries that lean on either side of the color itself you can more easily get those a
complementary colors going on. Let’s go ahead and start out by mixing my yellow ochre. That kinda brownish yellows that we
get I would start with my yellow this is gonna be my primary color to
mix into and I’m gonna add to a little bit of red and a little bit blue and by doing that I’m going to get a much more earthy color. I might use will red that’s got
a little bit more violet to it. And the violet is going to knock down the intense of this yellow. And I come over get this greener yellow
and again the violet of the red and the yellow
leaning green is going to contrast against one another and I still need to knock it little more.
So I’ll use a violet blue I don’t want the green blue because I don’t want this too green. There we go.We’re starting to get
that nice color and now we’ve got this yellow and that’s very much an earthy sort of yellow like our yellow ochres. Now your yellow orchre might actually be a little lighter. so we could just a little bit of white now that’s just too much right there but we add white to it and that’s about a yellow ochre right about there. So I mean I can I can add a yellow to kinda you know to
lighten it. I can just deepen it and making more red if I wanted to by adding reds and these different things like that. I can also go ahead and mix up my red browns and when I would start with my red
browns I start with the red and I’d grab like… so we’ll grab like
this under both of them just to give myself a little more a value
because of this dark red. It’s also violent yes it’s also this is orange but this is more of a value thing. So I’ve got my red and now I am going to add complement to it which is green and so I’ll add a little bit of blue but I’m going to grab
my my more violet blue and my more green yellow and that’s going to give me a more neutral green that way we don’t have like a real screaming green. I want to keep it little more subtle and I mix that together and I actually have so much green into this this is actually starting to feel more like a
burnt umber which is just fine if I wanted to be
more of a Raw sienna I need to bring in some more
of the orange family into this I bring some more over the yellow
which will lighten it as you can see it’s also made it more of
a neutral sort of greenish brown and then I can
bring in bring in more the red into it using my cadmium red light to keep the lighter value
but also again to keep it in the orange family. If I needed to go a little deeper
red I would then bring in my violet red
which were both deep in it and introduce a little more violet red and little different value and now I’ve got
this as a kind of red sienna. So anytime I want to mix my browns I’m
just remixing variations of my different mixtures of my
complementary colors green and red, purple and yellow, or once again red and green, purple and yellow, orange
and blue and those are my complimentary color
mixtures and I will get I will get I’ll get a brown. So if I had an orange and I used blue this is going to give
me depending on what the ratio how strong course the
blue is, that’s a very strong blue, but that just knocked down my orange and its nicer with the orange if I mix a violet, and I’m going to put a little bit of white in this cause other wise you won’t see it there’s my red, here’s my violet blue and this will give me my little violet color right there. And the opposite of violet is yellow and depending on how much yellow I add I can either make this a it can either be a earthy yellow or more violent if I wanna to make that more violet I just grab some more of my blue and my red and I can deepen it, darken it. I make it more on the violet side.
There we go there’s a brown it’s much more violet and so we’ve done our… starting with violet adding yellow, we did are orange and blue now we’re just going to do our red and green. There’s my red there’s a blue and the yellow for my
nice green color here’s my green and I’m going to
my red to my green again depending on how much red I had or how much green it will be either more
greener more red depending on how much more green there is to red or how much
more red there is to green. Right now it is still fairly green so I could add more red. And make it more as a red-brown so I
mean depending on what you add will shift that that brown or that earth tones color
just remember always mix your complements: orange and blue, yellow and violet, red
and green. and by varying those mixers you can
shift your browns either to… like I said with my yellows and
violent I could shift more violet or yellow
depending on how much I have in each mixture so this is how you mix your earth tones using this sort of a pallet.
This has been Kevin McCain with mixing your earth tones from
primary colors. You find out more about my painting
workshops, you can also visit my website for other art tips, you can find out about the paintings that I’m doing that I have coming out my studio by visiting:
You have yourself a great day. Thank you.


  • Petr Kotlitel says:

    thank you 🙂
    have a great day too

  • Dr Bob Hardie says:

    Hi Kevin … at last a method for mixing browns that makes sense and produces results. Many thanks. I've just returned to painting and work mainly with wildlife subjects where the use of the appropriate browns is critical, especially the lighter tans. Your process works for me. I particularly like your use of technical terms that clearly describe specific stages of achieving the result I want; "screaming green" is my favourite 😉 Don't change a thing. Again, thank you.

  • Roslyn Savage says:

    I really have learned a lot from your videos, but cringe with the paper palette with its wrinkles and scraping sounds. It also makes the colors look odd. How about glass with white paper under? Also, the way the paint is set up is so random. Why not in their proper order? I just don't see where on the spectrum these colors are nor do you use the names of the colors. Just yellow, orange, not cad yellow light, cad orange, vermillion, etc …

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