Watercolor Painting Technique: Shadow color mixes

Shall I use Blue and Yellow or should I use sap green?

When mixing a shadow color you have many choices. I always use a small amount of blue in my shadow mix to create a realistic shadow.

But sometimes I use Sap Green instead. Why? Because it gives a softer look to my shadowed area. Sometimes I require a softer look. This is often in subjects such as skin tone.

Sometimes adding Thalo Blue to a skin tone can create a large shift in the color temperature. It may cool the shadowed area down too much. By using Sap Green instead (which of course has a small amount of blue in it) you will find your shadow mix will give you a more natural in final hue. But there are times when Thalo Blue is required and is ideal.

I hope you can see that there are no hard and fast rules. Each variation has it’s applications and benefits.

It is interesting to note that using mix of blue and yellow gives you more choice in your balance of colour versatility. A slight dominance of blue or yellow will give you more color choices.

In your shadow mixes you can use Aureolin Modern or you could use Indian Yellow – depending on the warmth you want (the glow).
You also have the advantage of being able to adjust the ratio of the hues. You can make the
mix favour blue or favour yellow or balance out to give a more neutral final hue.

If we think about our complimentary colors – it stands to reason that Sap Green can be used in a shadow on a pink skin tone. Try these different permeatations. Create a color mix chart for your reference. You will be amazed at all that you will learn from this.

Trial the hues in fine washes to see what suits your needs. You can always adjust the Sap Green by adding a touch of Thalo Blue or one of the yellows too.

Visit Us
Follow Me

Subscribe To Susan's Newsletters

Join my email list to receive the latest news and updates on upcoming exhibitions, workshops, DVD/download releases, promotions, art tours, painting hints and tips and more.


Thank you for subscribing!