View Full Version : Mixing Paints On Your Palette!

02-08-2007, 12:14 PM
Hi Everyone, you guys did swell on giving me advice on my last question so i have another!! When your mixing Acrylic Paints on your palette, how do you mix them? Any techniques or styles that you find work best? When i mix my paints they get like all over the place! Is it better to use a palette knife or a brush? Your thoughts please!

Much Love.


02-08-2007, 12:37 PM
I mix paint on a ceramic tile or Perspex palette, then usually transfer the paint to a stay-wet palette these days. This is for any large amount, I do use the brush I'm painting with for small on-the-spot mixtures.

I normally use painting knives for mixing, very occasionally I'll use a palette knife but I rarely have to mix paint in enough quantity for these to be necessary so it's faster (neater and more efficient) to use a painting knife. This is like the shape I favour: http://www.dick-blick.com/items/031/04/03104-3250-3ww-l.jpg

For acrylics if you want to use a knife, you'll need to buy stainless steel or chrome/nickel plated. Normal carbon-steel knives (tend to be duller and a darker grey) will discolour when used with acrylics, as well as rusting of course if you leave them in your water, and this can polute subtle mixtures.


02-08-2007, 01:25 PM
I use several different techniques depending on the amount and how I feel at the moment. Sometimes I use the brush, especially if I'm just adding a lighter or darker color to the main one. Sometimes I use the plastic paint knives I got in a gift but usually I use craft sticks (popsicle sticks) Actually I use craft sticks for a lot of things, theres a couple glued to the bottom edge of my "easle" to keep the canvas raised a little, I also tape a couple to the back of the frame to prevent the canvas from sticking to the surface ( my "easle" is actually an old speakers podium) I've even used them as the "canvas":lol:

02-08-2007, 01:27 PM
I use a knife for mixing and do a lot of 'chop' and fold action like you do making cake mix. :) I use teflon coated knives which I looooooooove! Basically just because I can leave them in water overnight and nothing happens (no rust). I've had bad luck with stainless steel. Also I can't use the ones with the round 'stem' that connects into the handle - I tend to break these because I use them quite hard, somehow they turn a lot and eventually twist and break. :rolleyes: So I use ones with a flat stem like the one on the right in this pic: http://www.waxes.co.uk/paintingknives.htm

Maybe that's the main difference between painting and palette knives? I don't know. :)

Mixing with a brush wastes paint and also leaves uneven colour in your bristles so you can't quite predict what will end up on the canvas unless you thoroughly clean your brush after mixing.


02-08-2007, 01:35 PM
I use very small quantities of paint and I mix as I go along.
This means I never have large amounts of the same colour on my palette but I can honestly say it's never burdened me in any way, I seem to be able to remember my mixes quite easily for some unknown reason as I find it impossible to remember almost anything else in my life! LOL!

Here's a recent photo of my palette for a burnt umber monochrome painting:


The whole palette, a plastic sandwich box, is just 4x6"

Hope that proves useful in some strange small way! :)

02-08-2007, 02:08 PM
ahhhh the joys of glazing.... where the 'mixing' is layering the good colors over each other in thin glazes until the desired intensity and shade come....:D

02-08-2007, 03:09 PM
Thanks Everyone!

02-08-2007, 04:00 PM
I mix with the brush I'm painting with. If I need to mix more I don't mind if the colour isn't exactly the same. I think more shades of the same colour make the colour livelier.

02-08-2007, 05:39 PM
I only mix with the brush I'm using, but I also have never premixed large amounts of paint, in which case I'd probably use a knife or even an old fork and a cup. I tried mixing with knives and just ended up with the paint spread over a much too large section of my pallet, so I gave up on that. But I'm probably quite clumsy with the knife, I also can't paint with it. Something I have to work on.

I usually put the paints I want to mix close to each other on the pallet and then I mix them together with the brush I'm using. Then I might mix some more right on the canvas (I often squeeze some small paint blobs right on the canvas). But I paint abstract/impressionistic/expressionistic and love to work with "accidents" on the canvas. I can always wipe it off or paint over it if it didn't work the way I wanted :-)

And I agree with Connie, I like it if there are light differences in color, if often don't even fully mix but see that I have some of the mix and also some of each mix color on my brush. (By the way, your paintings are wonderful Connie!)


Lady Carol
02-08-2007, 06:21 PM
I mix with a brush or I mix with a knife. Whatever is at hand at the time. I do try to contain the paint as best I can to the smallest area. Like Nitsa, I do not mix large volumes of paint but go back to the tubes frequently. Variation in colour is not a problem as I do a lot of glazing and it all appears to even out in the end.

02-09-2007, 12:40 AM
me too! Brush for mixing but I rinse it often.

Donna A
02-09-2007, 04:39 AM
If I'm mixing a small amount, I'll use my brush. If I'm mixing a larger amount, I'll use a palette knife. (btw---yes---a palette knife is the flat type and painting knives have a bend in the handle---to keep our knuckles out of the way of the painting surface, etc.)

I'll attach a pdf file about Mixing Color that might give a few ideas.

Here is a little illustration I did in PhotoShop the other day showing how I keep my paint "collected" after mixing it. I find this extremely useful in keeping my acrylics from drying out anywhere nearly as fast while still on the palette. And for keeping plenty of mixing room.


I LOVE a large palette!!! I want plenty of room to make any nuanced mixture I want! I use two paper palettes for my acrylics. One actually is inside of one of the very air-tight plastic palette boxes and the other outside "on it's own." I use the boxed palette to squirt out large amounts of color. I spray it often and can close it up, after spraying the lid with water, when I need to stop for dinner or errands or sleep. I've kept the new Old Holland New Masters acrylics open for many weeks, stored in the box. (Sometimes we only need a little of a particular color and this way it's available but not wasted! Sometimes we get the flu and/or other life happens and the paint just has to sit there for a while waiting on us!!!) With the other palette, I can mix my colors as I need to and then eventually tear off a sheet and go again!

There have been so many times when I have some great color mixtures made, but need to stop, so I gather it up with my palette knife and deposit it onto the palette in the plastic box. I have saved a LOT of mixed colors for ages this way---and has been very useful!!! I waste drastically less acrylic this way.

And I waste so much less acrylic by keeping it gathered up into a smaller area, which has less exposed area to evaporate and dry. Best wishes! Donna ;-}