keeping your colors clean

2 Ways to Keep Your Colors Clean

You might be new to my teachings & my blog,  but in my online courses and physical workshops I tell my students to “keep your colors clean.” When I was learning how to draw and paint, many moons ago, I never thought about cleaning my brushes. All I wanted to do was paint and have fun. The truth is the more I painted the more I saw the benefit of keeping my colors clean. Here are 2 techniques to accomplish clean colors.

painters palette

1 | Palette
When you squeeze out fresh colors they are pure. No other color has been mixed into them. As your painting progresses you will dip your brush into other colors and mix them on your palette to create another color and so on until your palette is full. 

From time to time use your palette knife to scrape down your mixed colors and toss them out.  This will keep your freshly squeezed paint pure and your colors accurate. This is especially important for the sky area of a painting. I have seen painters with green skies on a sunny day. This is because they mixed a color that did not start from a clean pure white.

2 | Brush & Paper Towel

I see this problem far too often in my workshops. Painter’s wiping their brushes on the same paper towel throughout half of the painting. This is a NO, NO. If you do this then your brushes will not be clean, especially when you need to get into color delicate areas. For example, when softening an edge on a distant mountain or pulling a dark tree top into the sky is when a clean brush will really matter.

Keep a roll of paper towels under your arm. Clean your brushes on 1 paper towel no more than four to five times, and then toss it.  There is no need to buy expensive paper towels. The point here is to clean and toss. Also having too much paint thinner in a towel is not healthy, so it is a win-win.

The bi-product of the two above techniques will be the bright freshness in your paintings.  I guarantee if you practice this the next time you step in front of the easel you will be more conscious the ideas I stated above and start to see improvement in your color cleanness.