Color Mixing Tips & Tricks


I paint with oils a lot like I painted with watercolors for so many years. I keep my colors intense, clean and separate.

  • I never mix 3 colors together

  • I never use black, gray or brown

If you'd like to be able to mix colors like a pro, no matter what your medium, follow these 3 tips:

1. Color Palette Hack

I print a color key behind a piece of 12x24 Clear Polycarbonate Sheet. I do this because sometimes I can't see the difference between some colors (old age is looming) and because I forget (again, old age). 

I printed my favorite colors and pasted them onto a white foam core board. Then, I taped the clear palette to the foam core board. I'm still starting out in oils so it also helps me memorize where my colors are so I can paint faster.


2. Practice on Paint Chips

Go to the hardware store and borrow a few color chips from the paint sections. Pick colors that make you happy. Back in the studio, try to mix that exact color with as few paints as possible. If it's off, use a different yellow or a different red or a different blue.

3. Use a Swatch Board

I see the really good artists on Instagram with a messy bunch of colors beside their beautiful paintings. So I tried painting with a swatch-board next to my canvas. A swatch-board is a piece of wood or canvas or anything really that you can set next to your painting to test out a color before you lay the color on the painting.

Genius! I can test a color before putting it on my canvas. Sure, I can scrape or cover paint with oils but, why mess things up on the canvas? I'd rather keep my strokes confident, knowing the color I lay down is beautiful and the value is accurate.