Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Mix Color

                                      How to Mix Color

You want to paint the dining room walls but you dread picking a color. You know the drill--you have a pillow or vase that you like that "kind of" has the color you're after. You go to a big box store (to "save a few bucks") and they mix a quart of something. It barely resembles the color in the pillow or the vase. Or not at all. You can see how that is going to go. No thanks.
You go to a real paint store (Metro Paint FW, for example) and they match the color with no problem. You put some on the wall but it is not quite what you want. How many trips are you willing to make before you "settle" for something?
Isn't there a better way?
You can mix the color yourself.

                                                 So what do you have to buy?

1 quart of the color(in sheen you want) closest to your target color--color "A"
                             (MUCH easier than starting with untinted paint)
1 quart of the same tint base with NO TINT in can(can be added to too intense color w/o starting            over) 
acrylic colors, 2 oz. tubes- 7 colors would be good (available at arts&crafts stores for not too much)
           red, yellow, blue, green, purple, white and orange, ( "student colors" artist's acrylics or craft      paints are fine.)
(NOTE: You could just get red, yellow and blue but the other colors will save time and probably some frustration.)

3-6 white plastic cups--at least 6 ounce with flat bottoms
stir sticks
poster board --4 square foot(which needs a coat of white latex sealer)
           ( it is usually not best not to put color on wall--could be trouble later)
copy of color wheel for reference ( it is easy to get mixed up if you don't mix a lot of color,
        you can make your own--red across from green, blue opposite orange, etc.)

(Attention color experts: It is true that yellow-reds are more heavily represented in the color
spectrum than blues and greens. You can get a copy of the Munsell color chart if you want more precision but that is not really necessary.)

This endeavor does not require formal evening wear--expect to get paint on whatever it is you are
wearing and keep a clean rag at hand.

           1. Dip a finger into color "A" and rub the color onto the poster board--about 2 inches in
diameter. You can compare your other colors to this color. Dry with hand-held hair dryer. 7 or 8 count on "hot" with nozzle about 10 inches away. Then cool sample with "cool" air. If you get sample too hot then you can wreck your color.
           2.  Pour a couple of tablespoons of "A" into a mixing cup.
           3. Examine your color. Let's say we are mixing a sky blue. You hold your sample up to the wall, the sofa, some artwork, the floor and it is just too bright. You check your color wheel and see that orange will "kill" the brightness of the blue.
 <Note: You might be tempted to use black to "kill" a color. Do not succumb. Catastrophe awaits.>
           4. Add a few drops of orange to the blue. Stir until it is mixed and then stir some more. You can get streaks of orange if you don't mix throughly. That's bad.
           5. Rub color onto poster board as per step 1. You might not see any difference. That's ok. Until you get the hang of adding color then add less than you think necessary at first. You can put it in but you can't take it out--you start over. This is not the part where you want to go fast. Calm focus is the key. (If you must go fast then go out into the street and do some wind sprints.)
          6. Add some more orange repeating 1. You are, of course, placing these samples in order.

>If you end up getting too much color in your sample then you can add some of the untinted quart to your mix and not have to start over. It is your call.
         7. When you get the color you want, get a brush and do a foot square sample. Let it air dry and put down the color. You can go "snow blind" after you have been at it for a while.  It will probably take at least an hour for your sample to dry depending upon the sheen of the product. Flat dries the fastest. Gloss dries the most slowly.
        8. There are five different "lights" throughout the day including electrical illumination at night. In the best of all possible worlds "live" with the color for a few days before you start buying paint. Thus satisfied you can march into your local Benjamin Moore dealer with dried sample in hand and get the color you really want.

         This color-mixing thing can easily get out of hand. Enjoy!

[For a much more thorough treatment of this subject I highly recommend the Marxes' book,
"Professional Painted Finishes". ]

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