How to Mix Oil Paints

By Contributor

How to Mix Oil Paints. Oil painting is one of the oldest mediums available to an artist and is among the most beautiful. One of the more difficult aspects of oil painting is learning to correctly mix colors. Oil paints require many substances that other mediums do not. Here are some steps for getting started.

Choose your oil paints. You'll need a blue, yellow, and red. Select student or artist grade, depending on the quality you prefer.

Create a palette. Do this by using the color wheel to create the colors you'd like to use. This can be done in a porcelain, plastic or disposable palate. Mix primary colors together with a palette knife and make sure the colors are evenly blended.

Make shades and tints. To make a shade, or darker version of a color you've just created, mix in black. To make a tint, or lighter version of the same color, add white. This allows you to make a range of the same color to use as gradients.

Weaken the paint as needed. To thin out oil paints, use turpentine or mineral spirits. This allows you to achieve a fine wash, or transparent coloring. Mineral spirits are generally less flammable and less toxic than turpentine.

Change the texture of the paint. Impasto mediums will thicken the oil paints and prevent cracking. Use these when you wish to mix thick, stiff paint. Sand, plaster or sawdust can be used to achieve the same effect.


Watch out for hues, which are imitations of true pigments. These tend to be cheaper but do not mix nearly as well. Remember that some pigments, such as cadmium, are toxic,.