Iron oxide Paint

When trying to decide on the next acrylic painting how-to post to write, I made a ginormous list of all of the things I could write about and realised that colour mixing made up about 80% of it. Colour mixing is the one thing I obsess about more than anything else. I know it’s something I spend a lot more time and energy on than most artists – I can tell by the crazy looks they give me – so it’s also the thing I have the most to prattle on about.

Something I spend a lot of time experimenting with is muting bright colours. There are a lot of different ways to desaturate a colour. What I’ve learnt is that you really need to familiarise yourself with all of the different techniques for desaturation so you can decide which method is best in each particular case.

The first technique we’re going to look at is using natural iron oxide paints to de-saturate bright colours. I say “natural” but in reality iron oxide paints can be synthetic as well. All of my iron oxide paints are natural except for Raw Sienna.

The chart below shows you the effect the five most common iron oxide paints have on bright colours.

Colour Mixing Series Using Natural Iron Oxide Paints to Mute Bright Colours

The Chart Explained

The five iron oxide colours are represented by the first column. The five bright colours I’m using are represented by the first row. I’ve then mixed each iron oxide colour with each bright colour, so the second row is each bright colour mixed with Raw umber, the third row is each bright colour mixed with Burnt Umber, and so on. You may have noticed some of the colour swatches have smaller squares in the top right corner – they’re tints of the same colour to make it easier to see the hue.

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M. Graham & Co. M. Graham 1-1/4-Ounce Tube Oil Paint, Transparent Red Iron Oxide
Art and Craft Supply (M. Graham & Co.)
  • Artist quality oil paint made with walnut oil
  • Increased pigment loads for stronger more vibrant colors
  • Colors retain their clarity and are free from the discoloration associated with other drying oils
  • Solvent free system of traditional oil painting
  • Made in the USA
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