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Choosing your Acrylic Paints

Acrylic Painting Hints & Tips - Choosing Your Acrylic Paints - Galeria Acrylic Tubes

Combining different acrylic colours

Winsor & Newton Professional and Galeria colours can be freely intermixed. However, it is possible that different brands of acrylics may show some incompatibility and mixes should be tested first.  Any reaction will show immediately on the palette as thickening.

Permanence

Most artists like to be sure that their colours are permanent. Fortunately, the 20th century has seen enormous improvements in the lightfastness of colours. All Winsor & Newton colours rated AA or A are recommended as permanent for artists' use. Permanence ratings are on the product labels and our colour charts. 

Underpainting for oil colour

Acrylics can be used for underpainting on a stretched canvas provided the paint film remains thin. Thicker underpainting layers are possible on boards.

Basic Palettes

Your initial palette should provide a wide colour spectrum and should have a good balance between transparent and opaque colours and between strong tinting and weaker tinting colours. Permanent colours are always desirable and the main palette should ideally be low in price. The common practice is to maintain a broad palette of about twelve colours and add to it for specific requirements.

Here are the recommended palettes:

Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic Colour Galeria Flow Formula Acrylic Colour
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Azo Yellow Medium
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Permanent Rose Quinacridone
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Phthalo Blue Green Shade
  • Phthalo Green Blue Shade
  • Raw Umber
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Titanium White
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue
  • Vermilion Hue
  • Permanent Rose
  • Crimson
  • Ultramarine
  • Winsor Blue
  • Phthalo Green
  • Raw Umber
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Titanium White


Colour mixing - the six colour system

Restricted palettes are used by both beginners and serious painters to develop their understanding and use of colour.  The six colour system uses two reds, two yellows and two blues as a 'primary' palette.

This provides both a blue shade red and a yellow shade red for example, which will ensure clean violets and clean oranges from your palette.  The additional colours recommended in the basic palette introduce a wider range of tones and greater variation in opacity and tinting strength.

Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic Colour Galeria Flow Formula Acrylic Colour
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Azo Yellow Medium
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Permanent Rose
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Phthalo Blue Green Shade
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue
  • Vermilion Hue
  • Permanent Rose
  • Ultramarine
  • Winsor Blue

Additional colours for particular techniques:

When choosing new colours, an excellent investment is a hand painted colour chart of the range. For a small price, you'll be able to see all the colours in graded washes, helping you to make the right choice before buying new tubes.

Landscape Painting

New or different colours can really broaden your painting vocabulary. For landscapes, yellows, blues, greens and earth colours are always useful. Try some texture gels too, rocks and sand work really well with them.

Galeria sand texture gel mixed with colour

Landscape Colours
  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cobalt Blues
  • Phthalo Blue Green Shade
  • Indanthrene Blue
  • Cobalt Turquoise
  • Cobalt Greens
  • Chromium Oxide Green
  • Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade)
  • Hooker's Green
  • Permanent Sap green
  • Olive Green
  • Naples Yellow Deep
  • Raw Sienna
  • All Mars colours
  • Burnt Umber
  • Davy's Gray
  • Ivory Black
  • Mixing White
  • Fine, Medium & Coarse Texture Gels
  • Natural Sand Texture Gel

Portrait Painting

Portraiture needs that spark of life and character; clean, crisp colour mixtures and tones will achieve these. Pinks, violets and earth colours will make some of the subtle tones required for portraits.

Portrait Colours
  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Diarylide Yellow
  • Perinone Orange
  • Cadmium Red Medium
  • Naphthol Red Light
  • Pyrrole Red
  • Cadmium Red Medium
  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cobalt Turquoise
  • Buff Titanium
  • Naples Yellow
  • Naples Yellow Deep
  • All Mars colours
  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Davy's Gray
  • Ivory Black
  • Mixing White

Secondary Colours

In addition to the bright secondary colours you will achieve from your basic palette, single pigment 'secondaries' are important, eg. Phthalo Green Blue Shade can make brighter mixes than if you use a green mixed from a blue and yellow.

Useful Secondary Colours
  • Benzimidazolone Orange
  • Perinone Orange
  • Quinacridone Violet
  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Benzimidazolone Maroon
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Cobalt Turquoise & Greens
  • Chromium Oxide Green
  • Phthalo Greens

Glazing

Transparent colours are used as thin tinting films.  An overall glaze at the end of a picture unifies the image. Glazing can also be used throughout the painting to produce delicate colour effects and depth. Often a thin wash is required, this is best done with Acrylic Fluid Gloss Medium and a touch of water. The extra gloss also improves the depth of colour.

Glazing Colours
  • Transparent Yellow
  • Diarylide Yellow
  • Quinacridone Red
  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Cobalt Blue Deep
  • Cobalt Green Light
  • Cobalt Green Deep
  • Raw Sienna
  • Quinacridone Gold
  • Davy's Gray
  • Mixing White
  • Acrylic Fluid Gloss Medium

Abstract Painting

Abstract colour areas benefit from using opaque colours. They give flat, smooth finishes, covering underlayers and not showing brushmarks.

Useful Abstract Colours
  • Bismuth Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellows and Reds
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cerulean Blue Hue
  • Cobalt Greens
  • Chromium Oxide Green
  • Naples Yellow
  • Naples Yellow Deep
  • Red Iron Oxide
  • Mars colours
  • Graphite Grey
  • All tints made with white.

Scumbling

Scumbling also uses the opaque colours, very slightly diluted and scrubbed on briskly to achieve a scumbled glaze.

Scumbling Colours
  • Bismuth Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellows and Reds
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cerulean Blue Hue
  • Cobalt Greens
  • Chromium Oxide Green
  • Naples Yellow
  • Naples Yellow Deep
  • Red Iron Oxide
  • Mars colours
  • Graphite Grey
  • All tints made with white.

High key (bright) colour

These are generally the colours with high tinting strength. High key paintings are often made 'alla prima', using colour straight from the tube.

High Key Colours
  • Cadmium Yellows and Reds
  • Bismuth Yellow
  • Quinacridone Reds and Violets
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Indanthrene Blue
  • Phthalo colours
  • Titanium White

Low key (subdued) colours

These can be tints (colour plus white) or shades (colour plus black) but can also include earths and other naturally low - tinting strength colours.

Low Key Colours
  • Cobalt Turquoise
  • Cobalt Greens
  • Chromium Oxide Green
  • Buff Titanium
  • Naples Yellows
  • Ochres
  • Siennas
  • Mars colours
  • Umbers
  • Davy's Gray
  • Graphite Grey
  • Blacks

Staining

Acrylics are ideal for this technique because they do not sink like oil colours. The most intense effects will be achieved with the opaque colours in addition to phthalo colours and Dioxazine Purple. Acrylic Flow Improver will help the staining effect by driving the pigment into the canvas.

Staining Colours
  • Bismuth Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellows and Reds
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cerulean Blue Hue
  • Cobalt Greens
  • Chromium Oxide Green
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Naples Yellow
  • Naples Yellow Deep
  • Phthalo Blue (Green Shade)
  • Phthalo Blue (Red Shade)
  • Phthalo Green (Blue Shade)
  • Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade)
  • Red Iron Oxide
  • Mars colours
  • Graphite Grey
  • Acrylic Flow Improver

 

Palettes for Acrylic Painting

For painters who find acrylics dry too quickly,  Acrylics Palettes are available which keep the colours usable for days. This is particularly useful if you are painting every day, as they save you throwing away colour.

Disposable and conventional palettes can also be used for acrylics of course but remember to clean the melamine surface before the paint dries!

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