How to mix yellows so they keep their glow

Have you ever struggled to mix yellows so they keep their glow?

Yellow subjects are notoriously difficult to paint because it’s really tricky to judge what colours you need to use.

If we add the wrong colours, it can make our yellow look green or ‘muddy’ and it can lose its vibrancy.

And it can feel really disheartening when your painting doesn’t have the sunny glow you want it to.

So why do we find yellows so hard to work witth?

In this mini class, I delve into the scientific explanation, and share a technique you can use for judging which colours to mix with your yellows.

I really hope this mini class has shown you how to mix yellow paint with confidence and that it helps you to bring more sunshine to your paintings.

For help with painting shadow areas on pale yellow subjects, check out this mini class.

Have you struggled with painting yellows in the past? Are you going to try this method? How did it work for you? And are there any other colours you struggle to paint? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave me a comment below.

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  1. carol staines on April 4, 2023 at 5:00 pm


  2. Lauren Brice on April 4, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    Thank you! Very interesting.

  3. Deepika Naidu on April 4, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    Very interesting and well explained , I will surely remember this knowledge of bright yellows each time I work with yellows !! Thank You .
    Pls do share more such videos .

  4. Vivienne on April 4, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    Thankyou for this interesting short tutorial Anna.

  5. Kim on April 4, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    Well done. Thank you so much

  6. Rashmi Joshi on April 4, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you! I struggle with yellow.
    It also couldn’t be more well timed as I just started painting hot pokers, Kniphofia which has been on my to do list after I saw yours. Managed to click a beautiful picture now that we live in Africa. Hopefully I survive the painting with these tips of yellow mixed. I would have never imagine using opera pink and the red. Thanks for the lovely and timely tutorial.

    • Anna Mason on April 5, 2023 at 5:45 pm

      Ahh good luck with the Kniphofia Rashmi! And lovely that you’re where they are native. Beautiful!

  7. Angela on April 4, 2023 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you Anna. I have struggled with the shadow areas in my yellow roses and now I know how to proceed…. wonderful.

  8. Barbara Bernard on April 4, 2023 at 7:22 pm

    B Thank you. Very helpful.

  9. Kerry on April 4, 2023 at 7:44 pm

    Invaluable, thank you!

    • Anna Mason on April 5, 2023 at 5:43 pm

      thanks for commenting, I’m glad it was helpful Kerry!

    • Sara on April 9, 2023 at 8:59 am

      very useful. Thankyou.

      • Joan on May 5, 2023 at 11:47 pm

        I enjoyed your mini class. I think that the tip on the grey scales really helps to see the variate! Love your mini classes!

  10. Cheryl Richardson on April 4, 2023 at 8:25 pm

    Anna, I so enjoy your classes!! Your voice is perfect for explaining and guiding us through the difficult parts of painting. I could sit and watch you paint for hours. I didn’t do badly on a course of yours that I took, but I could immediately see my errors when it dried. I am heading to YouTube to sign up for more!! You are such an amazing inspiration!!

    • Anna Mason on April 5, 2023 at 5:43 pm

      Thank you! I hope you’ll consider joining my membership Cheryl as there’s 150+ tutorials there you could take 🙂

  11. Jackie on April 4, 2023 at 8:38 pm

    Thank you Anna – great tip for the yellows.

    • Anna Mason on April 5, 2023 at 5:42 pm

      thanks Jackie

  12. Roxane Montegna on April 4, 2023 at 8:55 pm

    Thankyou Anna. Your demonstration was easy and clear.

    • Anna Mason on April 5, 2023 at 5:42 pm

      Oh good. I worried it was too much detail but I always think it is better to try to really understand what you’re doing with colour mixing.

  13. Chris on April 4, 2023 at 9:07 pm

    Enlightening, thank you;

    • Anna Mason on April 5, 2023 at 5:41 pm

      I’m glad it was helpful!

  14. Laura Frisbie on April 4, 2023 at 9:22 pm

    Thank you so much!!!

    • Anna Mason on April 5, 2023 at 5:41 pm

      You’re so welcome Laura, thanks for commenting.

  15. Pirjo on April 5, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    I was just wondering about the reds you chose. They are both quite cold and contain blue. Why not use a pure orange or something like a sinober or cadmium red.?

    • Anna Mason on April 5, 2023 at 5:40 pm

      Hmm, I don’t think they would have got the colour as dark as I’d have liked. The amount of blue in Perm Carmine and Opera is relatively small so it didn’t negatively affect the colour – and crucially both those paints are beautifully vibrant. Scarlet Lake is my other one and looks similar to Cadmium Red but is much more transparent so better for layering and keeping ‘glow’ coming through from the white paper.

  16. Nancy Kennedy on April 5, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you! I’ve been struggling with Daffodils and shadows and have been very frustrated. My shadows were dull greenish-yellow.

  17. Diana Furley on April 6, 2023 at 4:13 am

    Thank you Anna. Yellow is a very difficult colour to do shadows so this is much appreciated.????

  18. joan iaconetti on April 7, 2023 at 4:31 pm

    I’ve been teaching watercolor for 18 years and have read at least 100 watercolor instruction books… This is the first time anyone explained why using rose colors are so effective for darkening yellows. Well done!

  19. Novene Manley on April 25, 2023 at 1:28 am

    I get a little mixed up as to the yellow you use. Sometimes I hear it referred to as lemon yellow, transparent yellow, or winsor yellow. Are they all the same or different? Love your tuutorials!

  20. Lynne on June 22, 2023 at 7:35 am

    Thanks very helpful

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