View Full Version : Acrylic Painting Techniques (beginner)(fine arts)

09-03-2004, 07:31 PM
Hi, I am new to WC and New to Acrylic Painting. I have been drawing for a short while and decided to try my hand at painting. I love both. I have not taken any lessons yet ( I work full time) , but I am reading some good books on the subject. I have been looking at some of the art on this web sight and I must say I am very Impressed!
So my first question to any of you fine artists out there is one to do with shading. I am painting a lemon still life and I tried darkening the Cad lemon med with violet ( one of my books suggested that). I looks to red for me. I am trying for a darker or blacker shade towards the bottom of the lemons with the light on the top. any suggestions?

thanks in advance

09-03-2004, 08:31 PM
Hi John, welcome to WC! and the acrylic forum. Shading yellow is indeed a tricky thing to get right (possibly the most difficult colour in fact) and I know just what you're experiencing. Normally I would ask for the specific colours you have and are using but there are some simple fixes for this type of mixing problem that don't require this so I'll go that route as these are good basics to know for future reference.

Firstly, when shading yellows in general, because violets are so dark in value they quickly overpower the yellow and darken the mix too quickly for the halftone areas (the area between the lit side and the actual shadow, technically called the penumbra). Try mixing white with the violet you're using so that it's the same value as the yellow to begin with. This sounds odd, adding white into a shadow mix, but you're starting with a very light-valued colour to begin with so the halftones are not that dark. Try it and you'll see it works quite well and additionally the reddish colour will be reduced when you add white to the mix.

With regard to the colour shift, in any mixing situation where you add what you think is the complement and you don't achieve a decent neutral (a grey or something verging on it) the colour is not a good mixing complement. Theory suggests the same colour as the visual complement is the right choice for a mixing complement but this is sometimes not the case so you didn't necessarily make a mistake. Anyway, in this case you got a reddish orange? This is commonplace as there are no single-pigment violets that actually work as good complements for the bulk of yellows. A simple trick in any situation like this is to compensate by mixing in a little of the complement to the colour you do get; in this case a green-blue or a blue should work acceptably.

This sort of tweaking of mixes is very often required, most painters don't have large palettes full of balanced mixing pairs, so it's important to know this principle.

Another option would be to mix the complement, as mixed violets can be made that work properly. Just pick a blue and a red and mix them together, add some to the yellow and see what you get. If the colour is off just adjust the mix with a bit of the blue or the red as appropriate. It doesn't really matter what red and blue you choose but I would suggest picking colours that aren't very strong tinters if possible (like a phthalo blue) as it will make the job of balancing the violet with the yellow a little easier.

Again, this sort of three-colour mixing triangle is a very useful basic mixing principle to know and is vital for anyone with a limited palette.


Richard Saylor
09-03-2004, 08:42 PM

09-03-2004, 08:56 PM
Thank you very much, Einion, :)

Your answer is very articulate. I will try these suggestions. So, If I understand correctly if my compliment mix is too red then add blue and if too blue then add red?
thanks again

thank you both , I will try these things


09-03-2004, 09:35 PM
remember that all paints have value and chroma ratings that need to be accounted for as well. :wave:

09-03-2004, 09:50 PM
Hi there, welcome to WC and the world of acrylic! :wave:
I've done lemons, all I can say is think reds, greens and oranges when shading..worked well for me..greys just dull things down, steer well clear of blues at this stage..green is especially useful..surprising how much you can get away with.
also don't forget umbers and browns in general..plus you don't have to add these complimentaries first, you can add later or even in the middle of applications..
well, this is what I do at the stage I'm at and I've been painting acrylics over 3 years now..:)

09-03-2004, 11:19 PM
thank you all,

all this great information , I will print it all out and try it all :D

09-04-2004, 11:02 AM
You're welcome John, hope it's of some help.

So, If I understand correctly if my compliment mix is too red then add blue and if too blue then add red?
Yep, basic primary triad rule - if three colours are roughly equally spaced around the colour wheel a neutral is within their mixing potential with the correct balance of all three.

That's why one can successfully paint with only three colours (RYB or CMY) plus white, as Richard has :wave:


09-04-2004, 02:29 PM
Thank you all for all this wonderfull information. Like I said I am a Rank beginner at paint and art in general. so this info means a lot. I will probably take some classes in the future, but for now all I want to do is draw and paint. (and go to work :crying: )