Brush mixing vs. palette knife mixing creates different results. Brush mixing refers to mixing colours on your palette while you work, which creates variety and variation in every stroke. As a wildlife artist, that variety and variation adds interest and drama to the work and can result in some unexpected surprises. There are occasions where mixing a puddle of paint with your palette knife also has added benefit. The following are some examples of when you may choose one technique over the other.
Palette Knife Color Mixing
1. Still Life paintings often include a variety of shades from low dark to high dark and mixing those values in advance allows the artist opportunity to review the value scale prior to beginning. I suggest using a palette knife to mix a substantial portion of each value prior to painting. You can always save any excess color for another work of art or to continue your painting.
2. Painting portraits requires careful study of tone and value with planning in advance. Having values mixed with a palette knife ahead of time offers the opportunity to review those values alongside one another and make changes prior to starting your work.
3. Mixing large amounts of color can be hard on your brushes and tend to push paint into the ferrule which makes cleaning time consuming and difficult. Using a palette knife can save your brushes and get large mixing done much faster.
4. Freedom of expression can be part of the fun! Sometimes it is nice to start painting and just go with it. No plan in place. Loading the brush on the fly allows you to stretch your creativity and go with the flow.
5. Speed, time and place are also factors, for times when painting in shifting light, altering conditions or simply where you wish to let the mind wander, brush mixing can be a great way to allow yourself to explore with a limited palette.