Oil Paint Colour Mixing Chart

I thought I must be sickening for something. My new paints arrived yesterday, and I hadn't even opened them! This is so not like me, I'm an "out of the shop and into the window" girl.

Today I thought I would do something useful and make an oil paint mixing chart to help me make colour choices when I do get going with the painting again. I really enjoy oil painting outside on location where firstly the fumes can escape easily, and secondly I have some inspiration in front of me - I don't know about you, but I'm hopeless at painting things straight out of my head!

I'm fairly new to oil painting and don't have a lot of colours. These are what I already had.

  •  Rowney (pre Daler) Georgian: 
    • French Ultramarine 
    • Sap Green 
    • Yellow Ochre
    • Lemon Yellow 
    • Lamp Black
    • Titanium White
    • Burnt Sienna  
    • Crimson 
  •  Daler Rowney Georgian: 
    • Burnt Umber 
  • W&N Artists:
    • Olive Green 

and my three new colours are

  • Daler Rowney Georgian:
    • a delicious Vermilion, 
    • Cadmium Yellow and 
    • Coeruleum

To make my mixing chart I took a pre-prepared gesso primed piece of A5 card. I then took my palette (a very high tech old ice cream carton lid) squirted out some colours, systematically mixed them with my palette knife, and put labelled blobs on a card. I didn't need to use too much paint, this is after all just a mixing guide. To each mixed colour I added white in a blob to the right. As well as creating a pastel shade, this will help me to distinguish between all the different darks that I made.

And what do you know, I was inspired to carry on and paint this sunset scene. Normality is restored!

Sunset ACEO using Vermillion, Cad Yellow and Burnt Umber

One thing I have noticed is that I don't have a decent purple. I thought I would be able to mix one from my new red and my new blue, but if I had applied colour theory correctly I would have realised that Vermilion (a yellow leaning red) and Coeruleum (a yellow leaning blue) would mix into a dark browny/purple - we all know that red + blue + yellow = brown don't we??

Can anyone recommend a good all purpose purple oil colour?


  1. Nearly as good as my photographs....


    Seriously, a nice picture, it has feeling

    Trevor. Century 21 Art

  2. Thanks Trevor. It's now drying...and drying...and drying. It takes about 6 months in all before I can varnish it.

  3. Nice idea colour chart. Your painting is colourful!

    1. Thank you Teresa, the next stage is to mix more than 2 colours together, but I think I will probably do this as I paint...unless I get stuck for inspiration again...

  4. Some fantastic textures in the foreground!! A really atmospheric painting.

    1. Thank you Kev, it was all achieved with a palette knife.

  5. I don't use oils often, so can't comment on paper. Your colour chart is a work of art though! And your sunset made me feel warm

    1. Thanks Polly :) I've only recently got into oils, but I do enjoy using them - especially since I discovered the palette knife. I use oils straight from the tube, sometimes with a very little Liquin added. The knife can be wiped on a rag to clean it, so I only need to open the smelly Zest-It occasionally for lifting. I avoid turps (except for cleaning at the very end) as I'm rather fond of my good health.

  6. Hi, I've just popped over from the Folksy Forum :)
    Ultramarine and crimson should make a decent purple but I prefer to buy a tube of permanent mauve for a truer purple or mineral violet which is more if a pinky purple.
    I don't use oils very often as I don't have anywhere to store my work while it's drying.

    Jan x

    1. Thanks Jan, I've mixed UM and Crimson in my chart, and it does make a good dark purple but it's not as bright as I would like. I've just ordered Cobalt Violet Blue and Rose Madder Quinacrindone from the SAA - can't wait for them to arrive :)

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