Fall is one of the favourite seasons for landscape painters. It is also a great seasons to get inspiration for abstract painting as well. The bright colors of fall stimulate the creative mind.
There are so many reds, yellows, oranges and browns that just using premixed colors from a tube won’t give you the colors and depth you want. In this article I discuss how to mix various fall landscape colors.
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Mixing Fall Oranges
Orange is the first color many people think about when you say fall or autumn.
There are so many hues of orange, from bright vivid yellow/orange to dull brown/ orange.
All of these colors can be seen in the gradual changing landscape of autumn.
Mixing a yellow and a red will get you an orange but be careful which hues you use. If the red or yellow contains any blue you will end up with a dull color.
Why? Because the compliment of orange is blue… they are opposites on the color wheel.
So a red with a blue undertone, mixed with a yellow will not give you a vivid orange but rather a dull or burnt orange.
For more info on complimentary colors, check out my posts on color theory below.
To get a bright vivid orange, you need warm yellow and warm red.
Warm colors tend not to have blue in them but rather various amounts of red undertones, so they already are closer to orange on the color wheel.
A color wheel is an important tool for artists. Being able to reference the color wheel and seeing where the color bias is makes mixing your own colors so much easier.
To make an orange more vivid, add more yellow.
If you are using a tube of orange, for example cadmium orange, you can add a little cadmium yellow to make it even more vivid (although cadmium orange is already pretty vivid!).
If you are mixing your own orange for a fall landscape and are not happy with the brightness of the color, try adding a little yellow until you get the brightness you want.
To make a darker orange to use for midtones and shadows, add small amounts of red to your orange. Red will make the orange darker and deeper.
To get a darker, more greyed orange for your shadows, you can try adding a very tiny amount of purple. Start off with a tiny dot since purple can quickly turn your orange to mud!
Try experimenting with the different reds and yellows you have among your paint tubes. Do a color chart to see which color mixtures you would like to incorporate into your painting.
Colors are influenced by other colors around them, so painting an orange leaf next to the dull blue of a building will make the orange pop.
For a more in-depth look at mixing oranges you can see my post on how to mix orange paint.
Mixing Fall Yellows
Fall is full of yellows and golds. Some bright yellows that pop out of the scene of your fall landscape painting. Some muted yellow golds that highlight the reds and few bright greens.
Yellow ochre is a good yellow to use for golds. Adding a touch of white will lighten it or a small dab of Cadmium Yellow will brighten the gold.
Cadmium Yellow Deep and Burnt Sienna give a dark warm yellow.
You can experiment with tiny touches of red or blue to darken the yellow as well.
There are so many different shades of yellow in fall leaves that it is fun to experiment with mixing different colors to add to your palette.
Don’t forget to take notes on the different mixes you come up with so you can mix them again later or save them for as a reference for future fall landscape colors.
Mixing Fall Reds
You can’t mix red since, like yellow, it is a primary color but you can mix various shades of red.
There are many shades of red in an autumn scene ranging from bright red, to deep burgundy to rusty red.
You can mix various shades of red together to achieve the red you want. Adding a little yellow, such as Cadmium Yellow will brighten your red.
If you want to lighten your red, don’t add white. The opaqueness of the white will give you a pink.
Instead use Transparent Mixing White which will lighten the red without changing the color.
To get a cool dark red, add a little Ultramarine Blue. To get a warmer reddish brown, add a little Burnt Umber.
Reds placed against there complement – green – will appear to “pop” or come forward more. So a red leaf fallen on the green grass will stand out more than if it were mixed in with the other leaves on the trees.
Mixing Fall Browns
We tend to think of brown as a dull color that has one hue. In reality, brown can have so much depth of color and look either rich and deep or dull and muted and is an important fall landscape color.
You can mix your own brown by adding blue to your orange mix or to Cadmium Orange. (remember mixing primary colors make brown…blue + yellow + red).
You can make it warmer by adding a little red or a little more muted by adding a touch of green.
Add small amounts of yellow, red or blue to give you the shade you want.
A little white will lighten the brown to a beige and give it more opacity. A tiny touch of black will darken it.
Remember to use a light touch when adding more paint to the mix. Some colors such as Ultramarine Blue or Cadmium Red are very intense so a little goes a long way.
Fall Color Palette for Landscapes
Here is a list of colors that would be good to add to your palette for mixing fall landscape colors. You certainly don’t have to buy all of these!
These are just suggestions if you are making a trip to the art supply store and want to pick up a tube or two. (Who doesn’t love going to the art supply store. 😊)
A red, yellow and dark color will give you mixes for a wide variety of fall colors. If you are adding some green into your fall landscape have a look at my post How to Mix the Perfect Green Paint for some tips on mixing greens. Have fun mixing your perfect fall scene!
Here are a few tips to help with your fall landscape painting.
1. Make the foreground lighter and cooler to make the autumn foliage really stand out. So make the grass a lighter shade of green or a stream in the foreground a cooler shade of blue.
2. Keep the brightest colors towards the center of your trees. This will give the scene more depth. Don’t overdo it. Let some of the sky peek through to give your trees a light, airy feel.
3. Don’t forget to add a little early snow in the mountains if your painting has them. It will give the whole scene a crisp fall feel. Snow is not pure white. It often has a hint of the color of your sky and darker areas in the cervices of the mountain.
4. You don’t have to paint every individual leaf and branch. Just giving the impression of foliage will make a beautiful painting. Use an old scruffy brush to dab on hints of color to imitate the leaves.
5. There are some colors you may not have thought of as being in a fall scene. There can be various shades of grey, blue/grey, green/grey or even purple hidden in the shadows. Shadows often take on hues from the colors around them.
6. These color mixes are also great to use if you are doing some fall decorating. All of these colors can be incorporated into paintings of pumpkins, scarecrows or even a fall welcome sign on your front door.
I hope these tips enable you to add a wider variety of color into your fall landscapes. Never be afraid to experiment with colors. Have a look at my post on how to mix greens to add the perfect fall greenery to your painting.
You can design your own landscape around these fall colors mixes you came up with or pick your favourite color and do a monochrome painting using only that color in different shades. The most important thing is to have fun. 😊
Come join us on the TrembelingArt Facebook group and show off your fall painting. Trembeling Art Creative Corner
Thanks for reading.