Live Painting Class | Mixing Color Charts & Books for Beginners

by | Apr 13, 2020 | Art, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting | 13 comments

I hope you had a great weekend and a Happy Easter!  We tried to have a weekend as typical as we could with cleaning, chores, and pizza/movie night.  Jeff took advantage of the pretty weather and went fishing with Calvin.  Sunday morning, we snuggled on the couch to watch our church’s Easter service in our jammies during a snowstorm.  There was something sweet about it, even though that was far from normal!  We’re back into school and work today, though, and hope to juggle it all a little smoother than we did last week.

On Friday, I had another live painting class.  We worked on color charts and I was surprised again at the great turn-out and all of the beautiful color charts people shared afterward.

In the video, I show examples of different kinds of color charts, share how they are useful to improve your color mixing scales and get to know the colors in your palette, show how to tape off a chart and make a two-color color study.  I also share some of my painting book picks for beginners.

As I did last week, I’m sharing three video-viewing options.  Here is the one recorded on Facebook…

And here is the same video on YouTube for those who prefer to watch it there…

And here is a 2 1/2 minute timelapse video showing the process…

Since it’s not easy to see in the video, this is how a taped-off 9 x 12 color chart should look….

Since I went through the books pretty quickly in the video, here are links to the book recommendations…

I learned a lot about painting from books and have grown quite a robust library of art instruction books as well as reference books. What I learned early on is that some books get very technical and were way over my head when I first started.  I just didn’t need to get that in-depth.  I needed some basics to get me going.  I found all of these books to be easy to digest as a beginner, but are still valuable as you continue to grow as an artist.  They are very practical, approachable, and offer sound advice to help you improve your skills.

  • Daily Painting – This book is my favorite all-around painting book for beginners.

All three of these books are similar in that they provide instruction on painting in broad strokes and learning to simplify scenes and focus on the most important elements.  I am still trying to relax when I paint and not fiddle too much with the detail!

All of these books are good for landscape painting specifically if that’s your area on interest…

Next week, we’re going to paint some clouds!  I love painting skies, but I really struggled with clouds in the beginning.  I wanted to paint them well more than almost anything else, so I worked on them a lot…experimenting with different techniques.  I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but I can paint a passable cloud now and I’ll share how to do it with you.

As we’ve done the past couple of weeks, we’ll meet on my Facebook page at 2:00 pm CST on Friday, April 17, 2020.

I am going to keep our supply list the same through these live painting classes, so once you have your supplies, you won’t have to buy more.  The only thing you might want to add is more brushes, a palette knife for mixing, and canvas panels of different sizes.  For the clouds specifically, we’ll use a smaller canvas size.  I would suggest a 6×8, 5×6, 4×6 or larger panel that you divide into a couple of sections.  We’ll try to fit in two smaller cloud paintings, so I can teach a couple of different techniques.

Here is a list of suggested supplies…

  • Oil Paints – Buy the best you can.  This is where you want to spend your money, because artist-grade paints have more concentrated pigments, so you can mix the colors without making mud.  I like Windsor & Newton and Gamblin.  (See below for some alternatives.)
  • Gamsol (This is to thin the paint and clean brushes.  You can also use turpentine, paint thinner, etc.) – Gamsol 14 oz bottle
  • Container for Gamsol/solvent (You can also use a glass jar with a screw-on lid) – Leak-Proof Solvent Container
  • Canvas panel (Buy the size of your choice.  I would suggest 5×7, 6 x 9 or 8×10.) – Canvas panels on Amazon
  • Palette – I use a wood palette, but you can order a glass one (white or gray), a paper palette (again, white or gray), or use a paper plate, a piece of cardboard, or even a piece of glass in a cheap/old frame.
  • Paper towels
  • Ziplock bag
  • Soap to clean brushes & hands – I use Murphy’s Oil soap to clean my brushes and baby oil to clean my hands.  You can also use an olive-oil-based soap or any soap that will clean off oil and grease.
  • Easel – You don’t have to buy an easel, but could purchase an inexpensive tabletop easel.  If you want to get a little fancier, you can buy a pochade box that has an easel and palette built-in.  Really, though, you can paint flat or just prop your canvas up on some books or a cardboard box.  Don’t let the lack of an easel stop you from joining us!
  • Brushes – The specific ones I’ll be using are the No. 4 Eclipse Filbert (you can get it HERE, too) and the No. 1 Ivory Long Flat (you can get it HERE, too) both from Rosemary & Co.  They have confirmed that they are still shipping out customer orders.  If you don’t purchase those brushes, the key is to have one flat synthetic brush that is about 1/4″ wide and one natural bristle brush (hog’s bristle is fine) that is 1/4-1/2″ wide.  The confusing thing about brushes is that the numbers, like No. 4 and No. 1 are not standard.  Brushes can have the same number and be completely different sizes!  So, go off of an estimated width of 1/4- 1/2″.  We just don’t need huge brushes, since we’re working small.

For those painting with me, I’ll see you on Friday!

If you’re not into painting, I am working on some slipcover projects that I’ll be sharing with my “home people” soon!

Here are links to all of the other live painting classes…

Cow Grazing

Still life with glass & flowers

Under Painting & Still Life Pear

Still Life Pear

Mini Landscapes

Index Card Art | Seago Study

mixing color charts & books for beginners

painting clouds in oils for beginners

landscape oil painting for beginners



  1. Cynthia Johnson

    Good Day after Easter Day! and/or Happy Monday 🙂

    I have just started Watercolor Marian…but find your video’s to be very helpful, especially the color charts. I feel that if I can understand color I will be much better at composition and content. So, as always..I look for the silver lining in the teachings that come to me.

    And… I pray that the answers we need will come to our researchers and scientists that are working around the clock to turn back the hands of time to a life we knew, via treatment and vaccines. Prayers and blessings above all to our front line workers, and to all those impacted by loss.. my heart breaks over and over for them.

    Peace to all, Cynthia

  2. Mary

    I watched your “how-to” on color charts and then tried making some for myself. I’ve done UB with Cad yellow deep, UB with Cad orange and today one with Phthalo B and yellow ochre… i found it’s fun and addictive. I have watched and followed your Instagram account and your blog and saw in the past you have used foundation greenish and kings blue light. Are these colors that you have given to your friend or do you still use them from time to time? Also, while I am creating my chart I write the ratio that your friend on the Facebook (I believe her name was Joan) told you the ratios of 6 to 1 and 6:2 and 6 to 3 and then the 50-50 on the second color I just reverse the amount in write at the top 6:3 – 6:2 and 6:1. Along the side i write the progressive amounts of white 1-2-3 etc. then when I remove the tape the numbers aren’t on my finished product. Someday when your my age you may have to do that too. teehee.
    I enjoy your blog and IG account so much. God has blessed you with whole bunches of talent.

    • Marian Parsons

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the class! I agree that color charts are addictive! 🙂 Yes, I kept Kings Blue Light and Foundation Greenish and I do still use them sometimes. They are handy convenience colors.

  3. Laura

    I recognized the artist’s work from “The Daily Painting” book from work I saved when homeschooling my daughter. She practically lived at the local art league during high school earning credits, volunteering, and teaching summer classes. One of the perks was to either assist or partake in workshops from visiting artists and Carol Marine was one of the artists.
    My daughter is all grown up and moved out but I still have those fruit pictures and they never fail to bring a smile to my face. Thanks for the reminder:)

  4. mimi

    I am happy to be one of your homies ! Your site and branches offer so many aspects of homekeeping and creativity its endless entertainment and learning -so fun.

  5. Judy Meagher

    Once again, what a wonderful workshop last Friday! It was truly such a rewarding JOY to paint the color chart, and now that’s all I want to do this week! Except that I have a bunch of face-masks to sew, so the color charts are my reward afterwards 🙂 Anyway, I’ve just learned so much from you already and really look forward to the future sessions you will offer. You are incredibly generous to do this for us, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. See you Friday! God bless you!

  6. Winnie

    This was wonderful. I love the shelves by the door- perfect for color chart & painting. Did you make the shelves or is there a source?

  7. Danielle

    I am really anxious to try your landscape tutorial. I received a set of water mixable oils for Christmas. I was wondering if you had any experience with these. They definitely dry like oils! What I’m not sure on is the under-painting – should I skip this step like with the acrylics, or go ahead and dilute the oils with water and give it a go? I’d appreciate any advise!

    • Marian Parsons

      I haven’t played with that kind of paint, but I think you can just thin it down with water for the underpainting.

  8. Carol

    I use the water soluble oils and you should use a water soluble solvent to thin them. I love how easy the clean up is.
    I’m learning so much from the Friday tutorials! I can’t stop looking at my color charts. They’ve been really useful for the painting I’m working on. Looking forward to fluffy clouds on Friday! Thank you so much!

  9. joan

    I’ve learned so much with each live class with you Marian, am going to work a colour chart today with burnt umber and ultramarine blue and titanium white to get some good dog fur darks, midtones and lights!!!!! thanks to your class and us making our own colour charts I can use that knowledge to complete a painting I’m working on, it’s such a valuable piece of knowledge, thank you so much for sharing, you’re an invaluable source of knowledge, and working alongside you ‘live’ or afterwards has helped me in many ways!!!!! THANKS MARIAN !!!! am so so looking forward to Friday painting clouds with you!!

  10. Sharon

    Hi Marian, I’ve really enjoyed your video and want to see what else you have on the web. Thank you for making them available and free. You have a lot to offer!!!
    My one comment is to not pay as much attention to comments that you get during the videos. If I’m hungry for information, it’s hard to listen to “hello, Mary, hi Barbara”, etc. when I know that you have so much to offer. Plus when one person has a specific question about their specific painting, it only relates to them, not all the viewers.
    Again, thank you for being so generous with your talents.

  11. Dodie Fausset

    I just love your Bice color study. I can’t find the brand of paint its is. I know you told us once but I can’t find it. I think makes such pretty colors. What other color did you use?
    Also where could I get some of the antique linen that you painted on?
    I’ve really got the bug.
    Thank you again.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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