View Full Version : Palette or not

03-19-2019, 03:13 PM
I am newish to painting and for big areas like skies, beach seas etc i have got into an habit of just mixing on the canvas so for the sky i will put white on the say an ultramarine blue and then adjust it with maybe a phthalo blue if the sky is a little greener etc in the reference pic.

Is this bad practice and something i should get out of and mix on the palette first or is this what you do too?

03-19-2019, 04:25 PM
I see no problem with mixing on the canvas in the manner you describe.


03-19-2019, 05:42 PM
Why question if it's bad practice when it is working out? I do this when painting out in the woods or somewhere other than my porch...less I need to worry about.

Alan P. in OC
03-19-2019, 08:10 PM
Sorry to be a naysayer, but I think that's a poor practice, especially for any sort of realistic painting style.

Say you put your white in, then go for pthalo. Pthalo is super-powerful, and you use too much. Now your sky is neon blue. You gonna throw more white on it, right? By the time you get the right ratios, you have 2 pounds of paint on the canvas.

And that's a big area (sky). How you going to mix on canvas for detailed areas? I paint ultra-realstic work, mostly still lives, and only very occasionally would I mix on canvas.

I don't know your style or skill level but paint mixing and matching color are very important aspects of my style of painting. If you're doing Bob Ross type stuff, you may be able to get away with mixing stuff around on the canvas.

03-19-2019, 09:52 PM
Probably the best way to look at this, is to think of all those famous painters who did not use a palette. I gotta say, none immediately come to mind.

The problem with directly putting paint on the canvas, is that you are likely to create overly-chromatic final colors. That is, much too colorful for what you are trying to do, whether or not is is supposed to be photographically realistic. The same can happen if you merely choose colors from a palette, if those colors are straight from the tubes.

But if you pre-mix some colors on a palette, intended to be roughly what you want them to be, then you can tweak the final color on the canvas. It is often the case that a color, not seen in its proper context, will look very different from when it is placed in context in the scene.

On the other hand, if you intend to do abstract expressionism, then maybe putting paint directly on the canvas (possibly using a sledgehammer instead of a brush) might be the way to go.

03-20-2019, 12:52 PM
As long as you follow fat over lean, thick over thin, slow drying over fast, you should be fine.

03-20-2019, 02:13 PM
I would recommend that about 99% of the actual mixing should be accomplished on the palette. That is not to say that you need to mix with a palette knife before picking the paint up with a brush, as a great deal of my mixing is accomplished with a brush.

I pick up some medium out of my medium cup using the tip of the brush. Then I mix it with my paint on the palette, while I mix my colors as well. For larger areas, or when I wish to nail a color precisely, I will mix with a palette knife, and then pick up that paint from my palette with the brush prior to applying it to my canvas.

Mixing color on the canvas primarily, leaves too much up to chance, and luck, Alan has offered some very good examples, and reasons for not mixing on the canvas, his example of Thalo Blue being one of the best!:)

03-20-2019, 04:45 PM
Agree with Dak. Palettes are only 3d objects. Paint is ephemeral.:)

03-20-2019, 09:23 PM
If it's working for you then there's no need to change it.

I use a palette because I like to prepare the colours I intend to use before starting my painting and those colours are usually a mixture of several different paints so I put a blob of each on my palette and mix the particular colour I want from those blobs. One reason I do that is because I'm an adherent of the philosophy that all the colours of my painting should have a little bit of the other colours in my painting to create greater harmony.

So I have a busy palette with the blobs of the paint right out of the tube, and blobs of the colours I'm actually painting with which are made from those other blobs.

03-20-2019, 09:33 PM
You seem to be talking about painting an even type of area with something like with a local color, or at least not with a broken color passage, and then adjusting it to the proper color, on the fly, as needed, right on the canvas. I don't think that is a wise thing to always rely upon. It may work out here and there, but it is also prone to not working out and requiring a lot more effort than it should.

I use a palette for mixing paint most of the time, but sometimes I do mix on the canvas for a broken color effect. It is impossible to achieve this type of passage without mixing colors on the canvas itself.
Sometimes I double load the brush with one color on one side of the brush and another color on the other half.
Sometimes I paint daubs of various colors (premixed on the palette) and then slightly blend them in a rough manner to get an impressionistic passage.
But this is also not what you are describing.
I recommend exploring all of these kind of things and then employ what you like best and what works best for you.
I would never recommend using only palette color mixing as your only option forever, no way jose, there are too many beautiful styles to achieve.

03-21-2019, 11:36 AM
Might be nice if the OP responded with feedback. This is not the only question begun by the same new member, who did not revisit the thread. :o