I received this email the other day. “Oil paint is so expensive. What can I do with all the tubes of paint that I’ve bought and never used? I hate to buy more when I have all these extra tubes in my studio.”
My suggestion would be to experiment with these extra tubes and try to mix the colors that you normally use, especially the more expensive colors.
For example, here a few ways to mix an acceptable Yellow Ochre Light:
Yellow Ochre Light = White, Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna and a bit of Yellow.
Yellow Ochre Light = White, Permanent Green Light and Permanent Rose.
Yellow Ochre Light = White, Yellow, a bit of Olive Green and Orange.
Naples Yellow = Add more White to the above mixtures.
Olive Green = Black and Yellow.
Cobalt Violet = White, Purple, a touch of Red.
Various Reds = Alizarin, Orange and/or Yellow.
Various Oranges = Permanent Rose and Yellow.
Cerulean Blue = White, Ultramarine Blue and Viridian.
The Earth Colors – Burnt Sienna, Light Red, Venetian Red and Indian Red are all variations of a Brown with varying amounts of Red. Experimentation will show you that Red and Green = Brown. By adjusting the amounts, you can easily make these colors. Add White to produce Yellow Ochre and Raw Sienna. Add a bit of Ultramarine Blue to produce Burnt Umber and more Blue to produce Raw Umber.
The list could go on………
(Note: I use the word Brown for illustration only, as we know that Brown is really the darkest form of Yellow.)
Technically you only need the three primaries, Yellow, Red and Blue, plus Black and White, to mix all colors but having tubed colors is certainly convenient, especially for Plein-Air work. But in the studio you can experiment with and slowly reduce the number of these extra tubes. The results might surprise you.
Tubed colors are evenly mixed, while your new colors, if left slightly unmixed, will be vibrant and exciting. By varying the amounts and choice of colors used, you also vary the results and you can tweak a color in a new direction if you choose. Also tubed colors vary by manufacturer so if your mixtures are a bit different it’s okay. And, who knows, as you become more comfortable with color mixing and substitution you might prefer your own mixtures to some of the ready-made colors.
Oil paints are expensive and we all have tubes of unused paint lying around. This is a good way to learn color mixing while reducing this extra inventory and save a little money in the process.