Versions of Grey: Interpretations

versions of grey blues, color mixing greys,

Grey….  Sometimes just the word, “grey” is enough to trigger thoughts of somber dark wintery dullness.  When it comes to painting, we often transfer those same feelings, into how we mix our greys. The results can make or break our paintings.

versions of grey blues, color mixing greys,
blue greys

I was a person who lived for summer and summer’s bright warm colors.

I intensely, disliked greys. The weather I lived in, being 300+ days of cloudy grey skies may have had some part in that,  Perhaps.



Versions of Grey

I decided I needed to develop new ways to think about greys.  New ways to define greys. New ways to see them and then  mix them.


I started with my ‘labels’  for grey.

I made it a challenge to come up with phrases like:    dove’s wing grey, warm charcoal, ash grey, asphalt,  grulla grey,  Toledo steel grey, light mist grey, etc.

Basically, I was observing and classifying the greys.

At that point,  my inflection, perspective and interpretation of Grey changed.




We will all see color slightly different.

How I interpret color is dramatically different to the family.  Mr.  sees the carpet as ‘brown’ whereas I see it as pale cream, with flecks of silver, green, rust.  Green,  to him  may be turquoise to me.

We are unique.

versions of grey, mixing grey paint,
Inflections Blue Greys


Greys became alive in my mind, and it transferred over into my paintings.

The greys had much more inflection, spark and nuance than before when I was just using dull neutral tints, etc.  to get my greys.



Greys have a wide latitude

No longer dull, but with a wide latitude and open to personal interpretation, I now find Grey a color of great beauty.

Greys can be rose grey,  sage grey green, blue grey, slate grey,  grey brown,  grey violet…. with many variations in between.


versions of grey, oil painting,
Grey Interpretations

Greys do not need to be dead flat, neutral.  But will help the painting more by leaning into and towards,  the direction of a specific color.

Greys ‘should’ have a color bias.


Remembering that opposites,   mixed together create versions of grey will help me obtain more color bias, and therefore more life spark into my paintings.

mixing grey, opposites,
Opposites for Grey

In the past, when I was first starting,  I used paynes’ grey, neutral tint,  black,  etc.  Premade.

But frustratingly – the flatness,  dullness kept deadening my paintings.  Back then,  I wasn’t sure what was wrong with my greys, with my shadows, with my mixes.

versions of grey in the watercolor landscape, color mixing painting techniques,
Nuances of Grey

But,  after changing to other methods of mixing greys –   I was far less frustrated.

The tree trunk, Above,  has some lovely grey lavender mixes that are flowing down through the trunk.



Tomorrow’s post,  Moet’s Monday,  Greys  I will continue  and provide some of my color mixing recipes and tips that I’ve been happy with and can recommend.


In the meantime,   have a browse over at Watercolour Tips or my Gallery for more ideas and info!





My deepest apologies in advance!

For the next week, I’ll be on a very limited access to computers.

I will do my best to post.

Comments, might take a few days for me to be able to respond. Thanks!




Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

14 thoughts on “Versions of Grey: Interpretations

  1. Each one of your samples are so inspiring, I just love the texture. I agree that greys come alive when mixed with blue, greens, roses, lavenders. Thank you for taking the time Debi and presenting greys in an exciting way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. well, Debi, this looks like 49 shades of grey, hehe. Wonderful examples of your craftsmanship, love all of them, as usual, have a lovely day, kind regards Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Deb, this makes me rethink my grays. I do mix them, but usually end up with the same color mix. I need to expand my horizons and see if I can add some, as you say, “spark” to my grays. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial and your thoughts on making gray lively.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure! and thank you for your comments, which are very much appreciated 🙂 Grey used to be my least favourite color, now …. its kind of fun to see what I can come up with that is ‘pretty’. Again, thank you for your feedback, cheers! Debi


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