Pre-mixing oil paints before painting session

For the last few years, I’ve been pre-mixing my paints when I am about to work on a portrait or other complex painting. I find it saves me time in the long run, and even though I may not use all the colors during the painting session, I was wasting a lot more paint mixing up large quantities of mystery colors before I started this practice.

And let me give credit to artist Daniel Greene for starting me on this path. He teaches this approach in his workshops, and it has made my whole process more efficient. The paint colors I use are based largely on his recommendations, with alterations depending on what I am painting.

(Click image for a larger view)

The palette consists of:

White (usually Flake White)
Ivory Black
Blue (Prussian, Ultramarine or Cobalt)
Raw Sienna
Yellow Ochre
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Cadmium Red Light
Venetian Red
Alizarin Crimson
Burnt Sienna
Raw Umber
Sap Green

And from this I mix:

Cadmium Red Light + Raw Sienna, + white to make a series of tints
Venetian Red + white
Yellow Ochre + white
Yellow Ochre + Burnt Sienna + white
Burnt Sienna + White

Then two greys, made from:

Raw Umber + white
Black + Raw Sienna + white

Two browns, made from:

Alizarin Crimson + Sap Green, + Cadmium Yellow
Sap Green + Alizarin Crimson, + cadmium Yellow

And some cool neutrals:

Raw Umber + Yellow Ochre, with varying amounts of Burnt Sienna added.

This takes me about 20 minutes to mix these, a good warm up while I drink my coffee and decide what to paint first!

Pre-mixing oil paints before painting session
(Click image for a larger view)

This is how I mix the paint, adding a bit of white to some of the previous tint for that color combination until I have 4-6 tints in a row.

I will put the whole palette in the freezer overnight and that way get a few days out of the paint before having to put out more. These shades cover a variety of skin tones, and get my portraits going quickly in the right direction.


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