“I’m not sure quite why, but mixing colors has always come quite naturally to me. I guess in some strange way I was blessed with an eye for color. That is – except for the color purple. Purple early on became my arch nemesis – it seemed that no matter how hard I tried I could never come up with the perfect purple color mixture that I imagined in my head.
Question: I mean why was this particular color so hard to achieve? I’d been taught is a young child red + blue mixed together made purple.
Um, obviously the person who had invented that combo had never mixed paint with me. After many failed attempts – I finally resorted to using purple paint directly from the tube. Now, while there is nothing wrong with doing this – it really limited my purple palettes.
So I started is wonder – why was it that my blue and red paint combos would turn into muddy purples or even deep tone grays?
COLOR WHEEL THEORY
Well the answer actually begins with a short overview of the color wheel. we all know there are warmer and color colors on the color wheel, right? Warmer colors referring to yellows, oranges, and reds. Meanwhile, cooler colors refer to blues, greens, and purples. Another tip you may or may not know is that when you mix a warmer color with a cooler color – they may produce a muddy color – such as mixing a Red with a Green, or a Purple with a Yellow.
So, now you may be wondering – What does this have to do with mixing Purple? Well, the reason is because each individual color on your color wheel has a warm tone and a cool tone. A good example of this is Red.
Warmer reds would appear more orange in tone – yet cooler red would appear more purple rose pink. Now, here’s where everything will start to make sense – if I mix a warm red tone – such as cadmium red with a cooler blue such as cobalt blue – the two will produce that strange muddy gray. This is because you are mixing a warm and cool color together.
Okay, so now you probably had an Eureka moment – but how do we actually apply what we have just learned? For me I actually love to use those muddy purple gray colors for shadows. They appear so realistic and give a hint of color without being a dull boring black or gray. My favorite color combos. My favorite color combos for these type of colors are warm (Ketchup) Red colors mixed with a cool deep blue color hue.
Gray Hue Purples:
- Cadmium Red + Cobalt Blue
- Scarlet Lake + Payne’s Gray
For any other Purple Colors I like to stay in the Cooler Red/Purple Tones. If you want a Warmer tone of purple make sure to add more pink paint to your mixture. If you desire more of a cool purple hue add more blue.
Warm Purple Hue Mixtures:
- More Alizarin Crimson + Cobalt Blue
- More Permane nt Carmine + Antwerp Blue
- More Rose Madder + Cobalt Blue
Cooler Purple Hue Mixtures:
- More Cobalt Blue + Rose Madder
- More Antwerp Blue + Permanent Carmine
- More Cobalt Blue + Alizarin Crimson
And finally, if you prefer a bright vibrant purple I recommend mixing Mauve with Cobalt Turquoise. Yep you heard me right you are mixing a green with a deep pink.
That is something they didn’t teach you in elementary school – mixing a green color and pink color together will give you a bright royal purple. The reason this works is because turquoise is still considered a blue tone (just a warmer tone of blue on our color wheel). By mixing it with mauve (which has a warmer tone of pink) you will get this bright vibrant royal purple.
Below I've included an example of an illustration I painted only using purples and gold ink :)
And that’s how I solved my purple problem.