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This week’s episode is a quick and easy hack to improve your color mixing. When I say it’s an easy artist hack, I mean it! It’s a shame that I didn’t do it for YEARS! I had no idea I was holding myself back and mixing muddy colors for this reason. Any painter needs to listen to this episode to make sure you’re not making the same mistake I was. I think this podcast applies to acrylic painters, watercolor painters, gouache painters, and oil painters alike. If you’re a painter, you should listen!

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Episode Transcript

Hello, and welcome back to the Self Taught Artist Podcast. I’m Lauren Kristine, your host. I am so glad to be back with you this week. I have an excellent hack for how to improve the colors of your painting. This hack is so simple and easy. You’re going to think I’m kidding, but I’m not. So stay tuned and find out what it is.

But first, let’s go ahead and share the Review of the Week. This one comes to us from Apple Podcasts. And it is titled “Excellent Guidance and it’s from SweetGal: “I am a longtime artist, and I am learning so much about selling transactions and shipping how to, I cannot tell you how helpful this is. I highly recommend this for all artists needing support and advice.” Thank you so much SweetGal, I really appreciate the Review. To all of you out there listening, please leave me a Review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or wherever you listen to this podcast. These reviews really encouraged me to come back and record Season Two of the Self Taught Artist Podcast and I just can’t tell you how much they mean to me to receive them. So thank you very much. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

So this easy hack to improve the colors of your artwork works for watercolors or acrylics. Whatever kind of painting you’re doing, I think this can help you out. And here it is the simplest hack you’ve ever heard. Instead of having just one cup of water that you wash your brushes in, have multiple cups of water available while you’re painting. That’s it!

When I’m talking multiple cups of water, I’m talking like five or six different cups of water that you can wash your paint brushes in. I use old cups or old takeout containers, whatever you have around the house, but make sure you have multiple.

This is important because it ensures that your brushes are getting clean while you’re mixing colors. And that also when you go back and forth between warm colors and cool colors, the pigments don’t contaminate in the bristles of your brush.

So my process when I’m painting is that I like to be as eco-friendly as possible. So when I’m done with a color, and I need to clean my brush or I’m just mixing things up and I want to put a new color on the palette, or change it up, let’s say instead of painting a flower I want to paint a leaf. That requires changing the color.

I will dab off my brush first on a piece of watercolor paper that I keep next to my easel. This is important because it takes away the big bulk of the extra paint on my paintbrush. By putting it on the watercolor paper, it just gives it a place where I can do it, it’s not creating waste because that then becomes an underpainting for another painting I do on paper. So it’s just part of my “don’t waste any paint” philosophy.

So once I dabbed off my brush on my watercolor paper that I have sitting there, I then will dip my paintbrush in one of two of my water jars. I have one for the first rinse for warm colors and I have one for the first rinse for cool colors. So if I’m painting a pink flower, I’m going to keep that in the warm color bucket of water. I rinse it off as best I can. Then, I take another cup of water and I rinse it out again there. So the goal is to get as much paint out as I can as I go through these different stages of washing my brush and then by the end, it’s really clean.

This is so simple, so easy, but I think a lot of us forget how important it is to clean our brushes in between colors. To the eye the brush might look clean. However, little tiny bits of pigments stay hidden in the bristles, especially near the top of the bristles where they’re really tightly packed. Especially the modern pigments, like Phthalo Plue or Phthalo Green, those colors are so strong. Even just the tiniest bit of that pigment on your brush can wreak havoc when mixed in with the wrong color (for example, one of the colors across the color wheel, that’s going to really dial it down). When you think about the Phthalo blue and green, just know how you only need a tiny dab of it and it will completely transform whatever color you mix it into on your palette? It’s going to do the same thing in the bristles of your brush, but in an ugly way! Once you do this multiple times, and you’re mixing colors and going back and forth from red to blue, to orange to yellow, and back to green, all of those things added up in the tight bristles of your brush equal mud, brown, and dull colors. And we don’t want that!

Also, having multiple jars of water ensures you don’t have to interrupt your artistic flow. I love this process and I started it very recently but it’s made a big difference in keeping my frustration level low. I was noticing that my colors just weren’t as bright as I wanted them to be and I started doing some digging into why that is. This was the thing that made the biggest difference. When I paint, I tend to go into my studio and I’ll paint for hours at a time, typically on a weekend afternoon. I don’t go back and forth to the sink as much as I should. So by having six+ cups of water here, it ensures that I can paint for a really long stretch without having to interrupt what I’m doing and interrupt that state of flow because I love getting into it. And just getting into my art where I’m not thinking about anything, I’m just in the zone, that’s my favorite place to be. And frankly, a big part of why I paint is just to get to that artistic flow state.

I told you this would be a simple hack, my friends. It is about as simple as it gets. I do encourage all of you to go try it in your next painting session. Let me know if it’s helpful for you. If nothing else, I really do think it’s going to create subtle shifts in your colors, and reduce your frustration with mixing colors, especially after a long paint session. I think it will also be a great way for you to create a eco-friendly paint saving process as well by having that watercolor paper there where you dab off the majority of your paint. I think that’s a great thing to start. It’s a great habit, and then next time you want to work on something, you don’t have a blank page that’s intimidating. Instead, you have something there already with a rich under layer ready to go and ready to be painted over. That can be really fun.

I hope you enjoyed today’s short little episode. Please go enjoy this hack in your painting and let me know what you think. As always, I would be incredibly appreciative if you would leave me a Review wherever you get this podcast. It really does provide me a lot of encouragement to keep going. So thank you very much and have a wonderful rest of your day. ‘Til next time. Happy Creating, my friends!

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