Your Color Mixing Guide: The Perfect Warm And Cool Yellows From Indian Yellow

Your Color Mixing Guide: The Perfect Warm And Cool Yellows From Indian Yellow

Indian Yellow Mixing

Indian Yellow Mixing

Have you wondered how to mix a range of warm and cool yellows without using colors with heavy metals in them like cadmium?

In this video I’ll show you how to do exactly that with just Indian Yellow and Titanium White.

Video Transcript:

A number of you have asked questions about what yellow I use since I don’t use cadmiums. My basic double primary palette has two yellows on it, Indian yellow, which is actually Indian yellow hue, and yellow ochre.

Now, the reason I got rid of cadmium yellow is that, like all the other cadmiums, it’s a heavy metal. And I got rid of heavy metals from the studio a long time ago. It makes my studio less toxic, more sustainable, more healthy, and all around more pleasant to be in. 

The reason that I chose Indian yellow hue is that with that one color, I can mix a whole range of intense yellows. All the way from a cool lemon yellow to something that is the equivalent of the warm, rich, darker cadmium yellow hue.

So a little bit about Indian yellow, before we get started. Indian yellow is for the most part an Indian yellow hue. They really do not make the original Indian yellow anymore, although some people claim that they do. Want to know more about the history of Indian yellow? Click here to read an earlier article about the pigment and its origins.

Each company that has their own version of Indian yellow hue has used a little bit different pigment to create it. Now, in Williamsburg and Gamblin, both use the same pigment that diarylide yellow, which is PY 83. Vasari, uses a different pigment, PY 139. PY 139 is one that has a little bit more light fastness. Both are really good quality paints.

I use both. Indian yellow from Williamsburg has been my go-to for a very long time. 

So, let’s dive in and talk about its position on the double primary palette. 

I usually use these two as my warm and cool yellow. Yellow ochre, which is a duller color, takes the place of the cool yellow. It’s great for mixing lots of greens, but with Indian yellow mixed with white, I can mix the whole range of intense yellows. It’s why one tube of paint really takes the place of a whole variety of other tubes. I can mix things all the way from the equivalent of lemon yellow to the equivalent of a cadmium yellow deep. 

So, what we’ve got right here is the Williamsburg Indian yellow down at the bottom. And just so you can compare, I’ve got Vasari, Indian yellow at the top and the yellow ocher over on the right. The white that I’m using to mix is my favorite. My usual Gamblin’s flake white replacement, which is a titanium white.

So we’ve got a fairly simple pallet here that we’re working with and we’re going to mix several different variations of the Indian yellow and the titanium white.

Let’s get started here with something that becomes close to the lemon yellow.

It’s a good idea when you’re mixing to mix the darker color into the lighter color, the darker pigment into the lighter one. It just makes it a whole lot easier to not go too dark, too fast. You can see here where I’m getting something that is fairly close to a yellow lemon.

Yellow is a really light color and on the cooler side, the thing that makes it cool is the addition of that white. So white is in general a cooler color, and it is definitely cooler than the original Indian yellow pigment.

There is our lemon yellow, and let’s get another pile of white. And this time we will add a little bit more of our Indian yellow. We’re going now for a color that is a little bit more warm, a little darker, close to the CAD yellow light. 

And that is pretty much a primary yellow. That’s another one of the reasons I like Indian yellow is you can hit primary yellow. Of all of the colors that we use in the double primary palette, Indian yellow is the only one that comes close to being the actual pure primary color. Now, if we’re going to go for cadmium yellow medium to deep, we’ll add more of the Indian yellow.

Remember again, mixing the dark into the light. So you see, as we get less white in there, it’s warming up and now we have cadmium yellow medium. See how it has tilted a little bit towards that warmer side.

Now, we’re going to go for the darkest one here and see how almost orange it is. So when it has less white in it, that Indian yellow is really a yellow orange. It is not at all limiting to use that as your main yellow.

Because it’s a dye color, a little bit of it really does go a very long way. So I do not have to replace it that often, even when doing a lot of bigger paintings.

I’m going to go for the gusto and go for a really darker one here. Get it towards that orange. Now, I want you to see I’ll take some and put it over here on the side.

Indian yellow looks opaque in its mass tone. When you squeeze it straight out of the tube that’s called the mass tone. When it’s not diluted at all, when you spread it out, you can see how intense and transparent it is.

When you add the white, a little bit of white, what that does is it bounces the light back at you. That’s why when you add a little bit of white to it, it becomes super, super intense.

That’s how I do it. That’s how I mix that full range of yellows using just that one pigment. It’s the combination of Indian yellow and different amounts and proportions of white, that gives you that rich range that you can see right here.

I hope this has been helpful.

Feel free to share it with a friend if it has been.

And let me know in the comments if you love Indian yellow too. 

Want to know more about Indian yellow and the Double Primary Palette? Here are a few links mentioned in the video:

Why You Should Use the Double Primary Palette

Indian Yellow: Liquid Light

Williamburg Oils

Vasari Oils Indian Yellow

Gamblin Oil Colors

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A Summer Reading List

A Summer Reading List

summer reading

Summer reading.

The dog days of summer are here and that had me thinking about lolling on the front porch swing reading a good art-related book, doing a little creativity feeding.

I went to my Facebook followers for suggestions and boy, did they deliver! Over 500 comments and counting. (Just click here if you’d like to peruse that list and add your own.)

So this is the short list I came up with for my summer reading…

Books I’ve read and am re-reading, and maybe some wishful thinking about books I hope to read from the suggestions (these are the ones with the ** in front).


On Art

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
Mesmerizing adventures and stories behind the pigments and colors on your palette and ones you’ve heard described. Easy to digest in bite-sized chunks.

The Invisible Dragon: Essays on Beauty by Dave Hickey
The Invisible Dragon is a little book of art criticism that brought the discussion of beauty and pleasure back to art.

Uncontrollable Beauty: Toward a New Aesthetics by Bill Beckley (Editor), David Shapiro (Editor)
A collection of essays around the theme of beauty and contemporary art from the late 1990s. It’s amazing how relevant it still is now.

On Artists

Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann by Tina Dickey
Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann is an overview of the artist, his paintings, ideas and teaching. For anyone who loves composition and color, this is required reading.

Another Figure in the Landscape by Fred Cuming
The thoughts, observations, and insights into the process and work of the English painter Fred Cuming. Coming is one of those landscape artists who’s a master at capturing atmosphere, light, and sense of place.

**Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of an Artist by Emily Carr
The journals from 1927 to 1941 of Canadian artist and writer, Emily Carr. Her ability to convey her deep connection to nature in both word and paint influenced West Coast art from Canada to California.

**Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel
A look at the lives of five women who were an instrumental part of the Abstract Expressionist movement.

**Clear Seeing Place: Studio Visits  by Brian Rutenberg
Like Fred Cumins, Rutenberg gives insight into the thoughts, observations, process, and techniques feeding his studio practice. His childhood in the South Carolina Lowcountry still plays an integral role in his art making.

**Wolf Kahn: Paintings and Pastels, 2010-2020 by William C. Agee (Author), Sasha Nicholas  (Author), J. D. McClatchy (Contributor)
A look at Wolf Kahn’s luscious colorful landscapes in oil and in pastel made during the last decade of his life.

On the Creative Life

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon
An inspirational read on how to keep feeding your creativity in the midst of all the ups and downs of life.

The Practice: Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin
Seth Godin looks at the patterns reflected in the practices of successful creatives of all sorts and shows that consistency is the linchpin of success.

**Think Like an Artist: and Lead a More Creative, Productive Life by Will Gompertz
10 key lessons on living more creatively from artists like Caravaggio, Da Vinci and Warhol.

On Landscape

Landmarks by Robert MacFarlane
British writer Robert MacFarlane explores the breadth and depth of language, and how it can become a way to fall in love with a landscape.

Why the Sky Is Blue: Discovering the Color of Life by Götz Hoeppe  (Author), John Stewart (Translator)
The story of why the sky appears blue from ancient myths to the science of optics.

Fiction with an Art Theme

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
Psychiatrist Andrew Marlow, unravels the mystery surrounding painter Robert Oliver via a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle
A light hearted and rollicking tale of greed, the rich & famous, and a stolen Cezanne playing out across France, the Bahamas, England, and New York.

**Death and Restoration by Iain Pears
Ian Pears entertaining series of art history mysteries that are light but still full of references to the history of art.

**The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
A mystery that taps into the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the world of art forgery.

**The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Goldfinch is a novel of love, grief, and loss that moves from the drawing room to the underbelly of the art world.

**Life of David Hockney: A Novel by Catherine Cusset and Teresa Fagan
Life of David Hockney offers a hybrid blend of novel and biography of the artist whose art is marked by continued exploration and experimentation.

Summer Morning, Tybee

Painting the Southern Coast in Summer

“Summer Morning, Tybee”, oil, 5 x 7”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Summer Morning, Tybee”, oil, 5 x 7”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson


Summer morning on the Southeastern coast…

Have you ever been in a sauna?

That’s what it feels like after the breeze dies, the humidity rises, and cicadas pulse in the heat.

While the morning started cool, pleasant, and breezy, by 11:30 the air was still and the sauna was going full blast.

It’s the afternoon thunderstorms that are to blame. They tend to build and hit between 3-5pm, all. summer. long.

But as uncomfortable as the humidity can be, it creates beautiful rich atmospheric effects.

All of that moisture in the air made the distant shoreline here a blue-green haze.

The other thing that’s unique about this time of year, the color of the light.

It’s white for most of the day, but especially in late morning/early afternoon.

Which just adds to the sense of building heat.

White light, soft color, humidity, and the buzzing of cicadas…that’s a Lowcountry summer morning.

You can get a taste of that in the video below!

On this morning I was painting with a friend at Battery Park on Tybee Island, right on the edge of the marsh, looking towards Ft. Pulaski in the distance.

Spanish Hammock, Tybee Island

Spanish Hammock, Tybee Island

“Spanish Hammock, Tybee”, oil, 4 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Spanish Hammock, Tybee”, oil, 4 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

Racing clouds cast strong patterns of light and shadows across both Spanish Hammock and the distant marsh on Tybee Island. But it was the clouds themselves I found most fascinating that day.

All that big movement that comes in the sky just before a storm blows in.

The only thing more fascinating to watch than a storm brewing over the marsh is one over the ocean.

I painted this first in the summer of 2020, but there was something that kept bugging me.

“Spanish Hammock, Tybee”, oil, 4 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Spanish Hammock, Tybee”, oil, 4 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

Being back in that same spot this summer during a flood tide helped me “fix” it, to get the feeling of land caught between water and sky.