In todays’ world, free information is freely available to all of us.  We can ‘google’ anything and look up tutorials on You Tube on an extraordinary range of topics from how to fix the washing machine to dancing a Salsa.  Nobody denies that this can be helpful but how do we know the quality of that information.  Is it right or does it just have the right algorithm.  We can ‘google’ Landscape Painting and the images below are the first to come up.  No disrespect to the artists shown below, but JMW Turner, John Constable, Cezanne, Monet, Wassily Kandinsky, David Hockney and Van Gogh, don’t get a look in.  Yet they are considered to be among the best landscape painters in history.  The ones that first came up did so because the internet search bots liked their Search Engine Optimisation not because they were the best Landscape paintings.  With AI all this is about to get worse.  Nobody will know what on earth to trust.  So from now on, you really do need to know your subject in order to ask the right questions and then know whose information is going to be top quality and trusted and whose is just tosh with a good algorithm.

Landscape paintings



The reason, I created my Colour Mixing Tutorials Course is because there is just so much misinformation out there on the subject.  I watch videos with absolute horror that have had hundreds of thousands of views and likes.  The people watching them don’t know the subject and neither does the person who has made the video or written the article.  I don’t wish to be sued here as I don’t have the backing funds of Private Eye so I have to be careful and not mention specifics.  I read a book about Colour in Art that was serialised on radio 4.  Firstly the author said that Red and Blue make Purple, which they don’t and I will explain that in more detail later.  Secondly, they said that Hookers green was the perfect green for painting leaves.  Well as I am writing this, I am looking out of the window onto my garden.  As an approximate guess, there are maybe 300 different greens in my garden so how can one be just right?  I have heard videos explaining that artists don’t want certain bright colours in paintings, so our colour mixing needs to be more muted.  It is like saying that parsley must be the herb of choice rather than explain the benefits of each herb and how to use them and then leave it to the chef to choose the appropriate one.

Certainly, various art movements throughout history have favoured particular colours as part of their aesthetic and conceptual choices. Here are a few examples:

  • Impressionism: The Impressionist movement, which emerged in the late 19th century, often featured vibrant and luminous colours. Artists like Claude Monet and Edgar Degas embraced lighter shades and a focus on natural light. Their use of broken brushstrokes allowed colours to blend optically, creating a sense of movement and atmosphere.
  • Fauvism: Fauvism, led by artists like Henri Matisse and Maurice de Vlaminck, rejected traditional colour norms. Fauvist painters used bold and non-naturalistic colours to express emotion and to challenge representational accuracy. Their palette included vivid primary colours and high contrasts, creating dynamic and visually impactful compositions.
  • Surrealism: Surrealist artists, such as Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, often employed dreamlike and symbolic colours. Soft pastels and muted tones were juxtaposed with intense, jarring colours to create a sense of the uncanny. This colour choice contributed to the surrealists’ exploration of the subconscious and the irrational.
  • Pop Art: Pop Art artists, including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, celebrated the popular culture of their time. They used bold, vibrant colours reminiscent of commercial printing and advertising. Bright primary colours, high viz colours and contrasts were used to convey the boldness and energy of mass media.
  • Abstract Expressionism: Abstract Expressionist painters like Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman utilised colour as a vehicle for emotional expression. Rothko, in particular, used large, soft-edged blocks of colour to create contemplative and introspective atmospheres.

These art movements showcase how there is no right or wrong with colour.  Colour choices were integral to each movement’s philosophy, goals, and the emotions they aimed to evoke.


Many famous artists have embraced the use of bright and vibrant colours in their work, creating visually striking and emotionally evocative pieces. One such artist is Vincent van Gogh, whose post-impressionist masterpieces like “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers” are celebrated for their bold use of colour to convey emotions and sensations. Another notable figure is Henri Matisse, a leader of the Fauvist movement, who employed intense, non-naturalistic colours to express the essence of his subjects in works like “The Dance” and “Woman with a Hat.” Wassily Kandinsky, a pioneer of abstract art, utilised radiant hues in his works, such as “Composition VII,” to evoke spiritual and emotional responses through colour harmonies. These artists, among others, have left an indelible mark on the art world by harnessing the power of bright colours to create unforgettable and impactful visual experiences.

MANY FAMOUS ARTIST HAVE EMBRACED THE USE OF THE PRIMARY COLOURS, RED, BLUE AND YELLOW and many others don’t let them anywhere near their painting.  Primary colours are used by several world-famous artists, who have wielded these foundational hues with exceptional skill. Piet Mondrian, a pioneer of abstract art, is renowned for his use of primary colours in his iconic grid-based compositions, such as “Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow.” Mark Rothko, a prominent figure in the abstract expressionist movement, employed primary colours in his monumental colour field paintings, where large swaths of pure colour evoke profound emotional experiences, as seen in works like “Orange, Red, Yellow.”  On closer examination of his paintings, you will see that Rothko also uses several under layers and subtle colour variations to achieve the rich depth that he does. 

Marc Chagall, was a master of poetic and dreamlike imagery.  He often employed primary colours alongside many others to add punch add strength and depth to his work.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.  Full refund.

Introduction: The Artistic Alchemy of Colour Mixing

In the realm of visual artistry, where every stroke of the brush and every choice of hue can convey emotion, evoke memories, and tell profound stories, the mastery of colour is an essential skill. Imagine a canvas coming alive with a symphony of colours, each shade harmonising and contrasting to create an enchanting visual experience. This is the magic of colour mixing—a fundamental technique that holds the power to transform an artist’s vision into a tangible masterpiece.

From the time-honoured canvases of the Renaissance to the vibrant palettes of the modern era, the art of colour mixing has been a cornerstone of creative expression. It is the process through which artists manipulate pigments to achieve an infinite spectrum of hues, tones, and shades. But colour mixing is more than just a mechanical process—it is an intricate dance between science and intuition, logic and emotion.

Painting Realistic Landscape or Portraits:  Creating realistic and captivating artworks in both portraiture and landscape painting hinges on a foundational skill: the art of colour mixing. The ability to harmoniously blend pigments to accurately portray skin tones, natural landscapes, and the world’s myriad hues is a hallmark of skilled artists. Whether you’re a portrait painter aiming to capture the subtleties of human skin or a landscape artist seeking to convey the grandeur of nature, mastering colour mixing is essential. In this concise guide, we delve into the principles and techniques that will elevate your work to new heights of realism and vibrancy.

Crafting Unique Colour Palettes for Abstract Painting:  In the realm of abstract art, colour becomes more than representation—it transforms into a language of emotions and ideas. Crafting your own colour palettes is a journey of self-discovery and creative expression. The beauty of abstract art lies in its freedom to explore uncharted territories, and colour plays a pivotal role in this exploration. By curating your own colour palettes, you infuse your artwork with a distinctive identity that resonates with your own artistic vision. Think beyond the conventional as you blend hues that evoke feelings, moods, and narratives unique to your interpretation. Unleash your imagination and experiment with unexpected combinations, contrasting intensities, and subtle shifts in tone. Whether you opt for harmonious symphonies or contrasting dialogues, creating your own colour palettes is about telling your story on canvas, where each stroke of colour embodies the essence of your artistic voice.

To understand colour mixing we must start at the very beginning because this is where is can go wrong.  Accepted teaching tells us that the primary colours are red, blue, and yellow and that they building blocks of all other hues. That they stand as pure and unaltered and incapable of being created by mixing other colours.  Again this is simply not true.  The basic home printer has 4 colours; CMYK which are Cyan Blue, Magenta Pink, Yellow and Black.  An art printer will have at least 16 colours as the building blocks of the colours it can produce. 

Firstly, properly understand primary colours:  If you mix magenta and yellow together you get red.  Red is not therefore a pure colour that cannot be mixed.  

Why is it important that red is not a pure colour?  It is vital to know that red has yellow in it.  It is the yellow within red that turns the purple you were aiming for into brown.  The bright clean purple you wanted became a complex, more sludgy colour.  There is nothing wrong with the colour that red and blue makes unless it is not the colour you wanted.  By the simple understanding of the primary colours we are then able to create the next step on our journey, the secondary colours.

Vibrant Dance of Secondary Colours:  Secondary colours, are the progeny of primary hues.  They burst forth with a vibrancy that commands attention on any canvas. The secondary colours are green, orange, and purple. These hues carry the vivacity of their parentage while possessing a unique character all their own. Green brings nature’s vitality to life, orange ignites warmth and energy, and purple exudes regal depth. Secondary colours serve as the bridge between the foundational and the complex, offering artists a spectrum of possibilities to infuse their creations with life, emotion, and bold visual impact. Just as the blending of musical notes creates rich chords, the interplay of secondary colours elevates artistic expression to a symphony of chromatic delight.

Now you can move on to creating complex colours:  Once you have learnt to mix the clean and vibrant colours, you can then learn the complex ones; the sludgy plums, the bottle greens, a range of greys and browns and neutrals.  These nuanced shades result in a symphony of visual depth. Complex colours beckon viewers to unravel their multilayered stories, offering a palette rich in subtlety and intrigue. From earthy ochres that whisper of ancient landscapes to muted mauves that evoke twilight’s embrace, these shades possess a transformative power. Artists wield complex colours to capture the nuances of reality and emotion, embracing the delicate balance between vividness and restraint. With each brushstroke, the canvas becomes a narrative of possibilities, showcasing the profound beauty that emerges when colours intertwine in mesmerising complexity.

The Colour Mixing section of the course takes around 8 hours to learn from start to finish:  What a difference a day makes.  In one day you will be able to mix 500 different greens and the exact shade you want.  You will be able to mix and replicate any colours.  You will know to create colour consistency or contrast.  You will truly understand colour.

EMMA’S TWO SIMPLE RULES OF COLOUR MIXING.  You will have learnt my Two Simple Rules of Colour Mixing.  These serve to easily remind you of what you have learnt.

Why are Emma’s Two Simple Rules of Colour Mixing so important?  Artist’s paints can vary considerably in myriad ways.  Richard Pikesley, the former president of the NEAC uses 3 different makes of yellow ochre because they are all different.  Different companies have different names for colours and different companies source their pigments from different places and make the paints up differently so a colour such as Magenta can vary from one manufacturer to another.  The is why colour recipes don’t work.  You need to be able to look at the colours and see where it lies for colour mixing.

When you understand paint colours in this way, you do not need a different course for each type of paint.  What you learn applies to colour mixing in paint, whatever the medium.  Most of the demonstrations are in acrylics, simply because they show up very well on videos.  But you can then mix all these colours in watercolour, gouache, or oil paints.

Essential Paint Colours:  These would be my suggested colours to purchase.  

Watercolour Paint Colours.

I use Winsor and Newton.  Buy professional colour if you can or the student quality called Cotman if your budget is less.  This make is my personal favourite. 

Main colours you need

Quinacridone Magenta

Lemon Yellow, Bismuth Yellow or Winsor Lemon

Ultramarine Blue or Cobalt Blue

Cobalt turquoise light 

Cadmium red

Cadmium yellow

Yellow Ochre

Burnt Umber

Extra colours

Ivory black


Permanent Sap green

Raw sienna

Acrylic Paint Colours.

I use Golden acrylics.  These are top quality.  System 3 are good student colours and cheaper.

Main colours you need

Cadmium red medium

Cadmium yellow medium

Titanium white

Yellow ochre or raw sienna

Lemon yellow

Ultramarine blue or Cobalt blue

Quinacridone magenta or Sennelier Deep Magenta or Golden medium magenta

Burnt Umber

Teal or Permanent green

Ivory black

Extra colour

Titanate yellow


Some topics are listed below.  You can see that to truly understand colour, there is a lot to learn but like any subject, you can just learn what you need to know or are interested in.

  • Introduce different types of paint: acrylics, oils, watercolours, etc.
  • Mention the significance of using quality paints and pigments.

3. Color Mixing Techniques

  • Explain the subtractive colour mixing process (for physical pigments).
  • Describe the additive colour mixing process (for light-based media).
  • Discuss the importance of starting with a limited colour palette to avoid overwhelming complexity.

4. Mixing Primary Colours

  • Detail how to mix primary colours (red, blue, yellow) to achieve secondary colours (green, orange, purple).
  • Provide step-by-step instructions for achieving clean and consistent mixes.

5. Achieving Various Hues and Tones

  • Explain the concept of tints, shades, and tones.
  • Describe methods for adjusting the value and intensity of a colour by adding white, black, or grey.

6. Complementary and Analogous Colours

  • Define complementary and analogous colour schemes.
  • Discuss how to use complementary colours to create dynamic contrasts.
  • Explain how analogous colours can be used to achieve harmonious and subtle effects.

7. Understanding Colour Temperature

  • Describe warm and cool colours and their emotional associations.
  • Explain how to use colour temperature to convey mood and atmosphere in artworks.

8. Creating Colour Palettes

  • Guide artists in creating balanced and cohesive colour palettes for specific projects.
  • Provide examples of effective colour palettes from famous artworks.

9. Mixing Grays and Neutrals

  • Explain how to mix various shades of grey and neutral tones.
  • Discuss the importance of using a mix of complementary colours to achieve more interesting greys.

10. Practical Tips and Techniques

  • Share tips for avoiding muddy mixes and achieving clean, vibrant colours.
  • Discuss the benefits of mixing colours on a palette vs. directly on the canvas.
  • Offer insights into layering and glazing techniques to achieve depth and complexity.

11. Colour Psychology and Expression

  • Explore the psychological impact of different colours on viewers.
  • Discuss how artists can use colour to evoke specific emotions and enhance storytelling.

12. Experimentation and Practice

  • Emphasize the significance of practice in mastering colour mixing.
  • Encourage artists to experiment with unconventional colour combinations.

13. Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • Address common challenges artists face while mixing colours (e.g., colour bias, colour shifts).
  • Offer solutions to these challenges.

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