Edgar Payne's Soup

24 Feb 2009

Q: How can I make the “soup” that Edgar Payne talks about in his book Composition of Outdoor Painting? How much should I make if I intend to use it in one week?

A: The recipe for this neutral gray is Indian red (which is a color similar to red ochre but with a bluish undertone), ultramarine blue, and a bit of yellow. You’ll have to experiment to find the right proportions for your needs. For a neutral mix, try one part red, half as much blue, and half again as much yellow. For a cooler gray, try equal amounts of red and blue and a dab of yellow. For a warmer gray, use more red and yellow than blue. Add a bit of white to test gray tones--the white has the effect of lightening and bringing up the colors, making it obvious if there is too much of one color. The paint will stay usable on the palette for up to a week if the palette is carefully covered with plastic wrap when not in use. Or, mix larger batches and store in collapsible tubes or glass jars. Always mix more than you think you’ll need.

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