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Painting With Three Tubes of Paint

A good way to begin your painting lesson is to use only
one tube of paint.

Yikes!!! Only One, you ask?!

Which One, will be your next question.

Actually, any color would work, but for our purpose I want you to use ultramarine blue.

Why? Because this blue makes a very dark color. I call it the workhorse of the blue color family.

Any subject matter may be rendered using this blue.

  • Draw your design on canvas or paper
  • Use oil or watercolor paint.
  • Paint the design, paying attention to the darks and lights.


>>>>>>>>>>>This is a value painting.<<<<<<<<<<<

>>>>> Values are the range of darks and lights.<<<<<

>>>Using only one color is called monochromatic.<<<


Other very effecive limited palettes use only three colors.

What a concept, only three tubes of paint! You'll love this.
It will eliminate all the confusion associated with a box full
of paint.

There will be fewer decisions about what color to use and
less chances of making mud. About mud........did you know
that if you use only two colors you will not get mud!. It's when
you add a third color that the mixtue becomes mud.

But...mud can be beautiful! An artist friend brought her
painting over for me to critique. It was ho-hum. Her darks
looked weak and a bit like mud.

I suggested she make some really dark darks. Guess what?!
Those areas of mud turned into beautiful areas of gray. With
the truly black to play against, those areas subtily, took their
place, becoming beautiful in a subdued way.

Allright, back to the main event!!!

>>>>>What three colors would we use? Ver r r r y simple!



  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Blue.
  • They are the primaries.

>>>>>From the primaries, red, yellow, and blue, the secondaries
may be mixed, which are, green, purple, and orange.



>>>>>There you have the full range of possible colors that
you'll need.

All Colors can be mixed from these three colors.
Pretty exciting, huh!

When using oils or acrylics, you may add white and black.

Watercolors won't need white or black.

Below are several different triads to use.

>>>>>>>>>>>There are many more.<<<<<<<<<<<

>>>>>These will be enough to get you started.<<<<<

You could paint with only three tubes for the rest of your life if you wanted too.

>>>>I do many of my paintings with only three.<<<<


Notice each is a variation of red, yellow and blue.



Triad #1
Alizarin Crimson-------(deep bluish cool red)

Lemon Yellow or Yellow Pale------ (cool yellow)

Ultramarine Blue-------warmish (contains a bit of red-
work-horse of a blue)

White & black if using oil or acrylic

Triad #1 gives a good range of bright color
and is used by many artists.

The ultramarine blue, being a dark blue, allows
mixtures to be darkened. It is so dark, that
black may be mixed using these three colors.

Cobalt blue, for instance, is not deep
enough in value to be used to darken

Thalo blue is a good blue, but is so intense,
that it will easily overtake any mixture.
Beginners are cautioned against using thalo.

Use it very sparingly.




Cadmium Red Light (contains some yellow
do not use cad. red medium or deep-these reds contain
too much blue and will make poisonness looking purples!)

Lemon Yellow (cool yellow-contains blue)

Cadmium Yellow Light may be used also.
This yellow contains more red than Lemon does.

Ultramarine Blue

White and black if using oil or acrylic

Triad #2 gives the most vibrant, brilliant colors of the
three listed here.

Grumbacher Red is an excellent red, not too much
yellow, not too much blue.

If your painting is about color, this is the triad to use.

Excellent for sunny, bright, colorful themes.




These first two colors are to be mixed using triad #2.
Burnt Sienna (dulled reddish brown)
To make Bt. Sienna: mix a bit of blue and yellow with red

Yellow Ochre (dulled yellow)
To dull yellow: mix a very small amountof purple with it.
Black or blue mixed with yellow results in green. Purple
is it's compliment, and is the only color that will dull yellow
without changing it's color to green.

Ultramarine Blue

White and black if using oil or acrylic

Triad #3 gives a muted, low key, low toned color scheme.

Burnt sienna acts as your red, it is mixed using your red
which has a bit of yellow added, and ultramarine blue.

Yellow ochre is made, by mixing yellow with a bit of red
added with ultramarine blue.


>>>>To make a black, mix equal parts of the three primary colors

>>>>You may make the black lean to the blue by adding
more of the blue, or the red, by adding more of the red
or even the green side by adding a little more of the yellow.

>>>>You'll be using lots of ultramarine blue to get the mixtures
dark enough.


As you gain experience with the three tubes, add three more.

Which three more, you ask??

We want a cool and a warm variation of each primary.With alizarin crimsom (cool) add cad. red light (warm)


With untramarine blue (cool) add cobalt blue (warmer)


With lemon yellow (cool) add cadmium yellow light (warm)




Author : Kay Milam

Copyright-2002 All Rights Reserved

A bit about me.. I have painted, made sculptures, and taught art in my private studio and higher
learning classes in two colleges, to both childern and adults.

My paintings are in galleries in Texas, in private collections, and may be viewed at my website.

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