How to Mix Oil Paints to Get Violet or Purple

Color theory tells us that red and blue make violet. A budding artist's first attempts to blend purple from red and blue oil paint, however, may create a color closer to mud than magenta.

Colors vary in their hue based on where they fall on the color wheel. The three primary hues--red, blue and yellow--are the building blocks of all other colors. Violet (or purple) is a secondary color. Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary and secondary color. Make less mud and more magenta by becoming familiar with the color wheel and learning to recognize the component colors within each color as it comes out of the paint tube.

Things You'll Need

  • Oil paints

  • Paint palette

  • Palette knife

Step 1

Purchase the pure pigment paints necessary to create a variety of violet hues: yellow ochre, ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson. Add a titanium white so you can lighten the shade of your colors.

Step 2

Squeeze some alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue onto your palette. Mix equal parts of the two colors together on a clean section of your palette using your palette knife. This creates a basic violet or purple oil paint color.

Step 3

Mix alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and some yellow ochre to create a wine color. You are dulling the original violet color you created by adding its complementary color.

Step 4

Add a small amount of titanium white to your original purple to create lilac. Add titanium white to your wine color to create rose.

Step 5

Vary the proportion of each color you use to create new purple hues, or mix two different purples together. Some experiments will result in violet variations you like, while others will be disasters. Each will teach you something about color mixing.

Tip

Work with a clean, organized palette.

Always wipe most of the paint off your brush before using it to mix another color. Newspaper works well for this. Use turpentine to clean your brushes when you're finished painting or need a completely clean start to blend a color.

Avoid using store-bought black paint, as it always has a particular color cast of its own that will affect your purple. If you want to darken your shade of purple, try mixing your own black using blue and umber pigments.

References & Resources