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Colours

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

Abstarct 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
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