• Cindy Revell

Artsnip 2 - Yellow and Blue Make Green?

Students frequently ask which of the many blues or yellows is the right one choice for the particular green. Each colour (red-orange, red-blue, pinky-red or yellow green, blue green, grey green, olive green) has different qualities. Below is a great exercise for learning those different qualities.


Begin by paying attention to the greens in the trees and the grass, look also at greens in clothing and objects. See if you can tell if a green leans toward yellow (yellow green), toward blue (the blue green of greens in shadow) or is it olivey? The basis of green is yellow and blue but which yellow and what blue? You can figure it out by making colour swatches as described below and by looking at the example swatches I sent in the last ARTSNIP.

Use the limited colour palette I suggested in the last ARTSNIP (!supply-list-for-cindy-revell-classes/cln3) to make your swatches.

1. lay down a patch of pure ultramarine blue

2. directly beneath it lay down another patch of ultramarine blue with enough white to make it significantly lighter, make enough of a patch to use for making the patch that you will put beneath it in step 3.

3. using the light mixture from step 2 add a bit of lemon yellow creating a green patch.

You now have 3 patches. Blue, light blue and green. Beneath these ‘mother mixtures’ you can make more patches to see how you can manipulate this green to make it lighter with more white, or limier with more yellow, etc. Explore, what happens if you add another colour like red?

REPEAT the above with ultramarine blue but instead of lemon yellow use cad yellow and note the different greens those two yellows create. Repeat the exercise but use pthalo blue in place of ultramarine and note the different greens it creates compared to ultramarine.


Do the above exercise with cad red and lemon yellow and again with cad yellow so you can compare the different oranges that these two yellows make. Do it again with alizarin, lemon yellow and then cad yellow and then perm rose and the yellows.

Red is a tricky colour as those of you who have done the red exercises in our Saturday classes know all too well. Cadmium red light is very red-orange and will get quite different results than alizarin crimson which is red-purple and quite cool in comparison to cad red. Quinacridone rose is a clean pinky red and is great for flowers or more intense pinks (permanent rose is very similar and makes a good substitute to quin rose). Have you ever tried to paint a pink flower only to discover that the pink you’ve mixed is not the clean pink of the flower? That will be due to a couple of things. 1. the wrong red was used 2. using too many colours in your mixture 3. a cool red like aliz. crimson when a warm red was needed and vice versa.


You can put it into practice by choosing subject matter that contains the colours you wish to explore. The peony study below shows a variety of warm and cool pinks and reds.

These are the pinks I identified:

Pink - pure quinacridone rose or permanent rose lightened with white

Deep fuchsia pink - pure quinacridone rose or permanent rose

Orange-ish pink (warmer) the really intense glowy warm spots in the depths of the peony were done with a smidgeon of cad red. Some white and the merest touch of yellow are used for the lighter peachy spots.

Pink with a hint of purple (cooler pink) Pure alizarin or a mix of Aliz with Quin or Perm rose.

Darks - pure alizarin

Peony Study

Peony study with the warms and cools removed in Photoshop.

Using Photoshop I removed the various yellows and purples in the rectangle in the centre of the peony making it one colour of red. Notice how dull that rectangle is compared to the rest of the painting which is considerably more alive with a variety of pinks and reds. This shows how important it is to learn to SEE the subtleties, to vary your colours accordingly, and to pay attention to TEMPERATURE (warm and cool).

#colourmixing #colour #temperature #colourswatches


© 2018 by Cindy Revell. All rights reserved