Tip Tuesday - Do you know how to create beautifully colorful muddy paint mixtures?

"Table Set for Two" Oil on 24" x 18" panel. Sold.

Attention grabbing, look-at-me color certainly has it's place in a painting, but, when every hue demands equal attention, it can feel like you're staring into the sun and must look away quickly to avoid having an after image of the painting imprinted on the inside of your eyelids. Muddy color, when used appropriately, can enhance the overall statement in your painting.

If you're a color junkie, and I speak from experience here, then I highly suggest you explore what muddy color can do to enhance your painting.

In a previous post I covered why you shouldn't use black to darken your paint mixtures and that same lesson applies when muddying a color. Black will certainly tone down that bold overly-brilliant hue but, you run the risk of all your grayed down mixtures appearing to have the same color cast which, in turn, will flatten out any illusion of depth you've worked so hard to create.

Instead, try mixing a complimentary color into the paint mixture you're trying to gray down. For example, if you've got a brilliant green tone it down with a touch of red, for purple add yellow and for orange add blue and vice versa. You will end up with a less vibrant and saturated hue that still maintains some color integrity.

Which reds, yellows, blues etc. should you use? That all depends on your palette, your subject and what you're trying to achieve. I'll cover pieces of this in future posts because honestly, this topic could easily be a whole class on color theory.

Now that you know how to do it, why on earth would you want to gray down all that scrumptious color? Mud, or gray, when used correctly, can make the pure hues in your painting appear very vibrant. Additionally, when used strategically and in the correct value, mud can enhance your focal point when used in the periphery.

Color gets all the glory, but, value does all the work in a painting. Embrace the mud my friends and paint on!