Pthalo blue is always on my teaching supply list. Most educators shy away from this color because of its intensity. It is a transparent blue which means it’s a wonderful mixing color. Most painters use it for mixing as it will almost look neon by itself and is an unrealistic color. But, mixing it with other blues gives depth to the color. Mixing it with cadmium yellow makes a fab grass green. It will stain your clothes and the palette – not everyone’s idea of fun. But give it a try.

Happy Painting!


To lighten colors in watercolor, we add water. The transparency makes the color lighter. Oils and acrylics use white paint. So, then when do we use white paint? Often it’s to add a reflection after the object has been painted – an apple, a car, white caps on water. It can also be used to create some colors you might not have in your paint box. A pink for example. Cerulean blue can be made by mixing phtalo blue, cad yellow, and white. An opaque lime green. It has to be used sparingly or often turns colors mucky and streaky.

Happy Painting!

Mixing Cups

Often when I’m using a lot of one color, mixed or unmixed, I make a large amount in a small mixing cup. This allows me to never run out of the color if I’m in the midst of doing a big wash or something else. Mixing cups can be empty small wide yogurt containers, or small pudding/applesauce containers. You can also find inexpensive white cups, usually 3 to a package at the art stores. I find having my paints premixed in large quantities is essential. Nothing goes to waste. Extra paint can be stored in an empty container, like a baby food jar or poured into an empty palette well.

Keep Painting!

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Yes! In the cleaning supply aisle in the grocery store is Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. The original works best. Wet the sponge – you can cut it into small cubes –  and lift out paint that is dried and unwanted in your painting. You can almost get it back to white paper. This works better than a scrubby bristle brush but of course it can’t be used in tiny spaces like a brush. It will take off most anything. After a few uses, the sponge crumbles and needs to be tossed.

Happy Painting!

Figuring out the Contrast

Grafix Clear-Lay makes a red acetate sheet 18 x 24 which is a great tool for showing the contrast on a painting.  Just lay it over a dried painting and you will see the lights to darks instantly. It helps understand values of colors in one easy step.

Keep painting!

Work from General to Specific

The detail of a painting, the texture or pattern, should come last rather than first. If not, the detail will determine the rest of the painting. And it’s often not what the artist wants to do. Compare this to a woman putting her scarf and jewelry on first. Or a house newly painted on the inside with no carpeting but with framed paintings and nick knacks on the wall. It’s tempting for student painters to want to rush into the detail of the painting but it can create new and unwanted problems which may or may not be solved.

Happy Painting!

Wetting the palette

Baby syringes, the type used for the nose and found in drugstores for a few dollars, are an easy and efficient way to wet each palette color as well as mixing other colors in cups or palette sections. You have greater control over the amount of water and  none of the mess from using brushes.

Happy Painting!