When learning color mixing, there are three (3) sets of opposite colors to remember:
Color Set #1-CHRISTMAS colors: Red & Green
Color Set #2-EASTER colors: Yellow & Purple
Color Set #3-SUNSET colors: Orange & Blue
In discussing the definition of a color, let’s work with the Color set #1, the Christmas Colors, red and green. “Red” is defined as any color that has ANY KIND of red in the paint mixture…rust, rose, pink, coral, burgundy, orange-red, red-orange, wine, grape, purple, etc. The definition of a color such as “Green”, Red’s opposite on the color wheel, is the same. So, this set of opposite colors gives us MANY forms of reds and greens to work with. Think of color set #2 and #3 in this same way and you will have hundreds of colors to paint with. However, it is very difficult to ever mix the exact same color again because if you combine white, black, and yellow you will be able to mix 739 readable colors. The lesson here is to mix enough color in the FIRST mixture that you will need to use for your painting. I always like to mix extra, more than I think I will need.
Many times in painting we need subdued colors and these are made by toning down a color with its opposite on the color wheel, i.e., tone down “any” red with “any” green using the above definition. Technically it is called neutralizing a color or being able to tone down a color to soften it or take the intensity out of it…when taken to the extreme half and half of the red mix and the green mix we create a taupe or gray which equals a “neutral”. A taupe color of the half and half mix will have more of the warm color creating it and the gray color of the half and half mix will have a bit more of the cool color in it.
It you wish to breathe live into your painting, try putting opposite colors next to each other on your paper or canvas. Always try to paint with full spectrum color and your painting will become magical!