What is Gray, Really?

What is Gray, Really?

July 05, 2020 1 Comment

Gray - boring, blah, rainy gray.

That’s what my mind conjures at the mention of that color. Black + white. Coming from this sun-loving lady, you’d think I avoided gray at all cost. In real life I definitely chase the sun, but without a little gray in your life, your paintings will be too bright and oversaturated, resulting in a headache for the viewer.

We learn in elementary school that gray is what you get when you mix black and white. In the world of color, gray takes on an even bigger meaning, giving us even more than the 50 shades that are now infamous.


Gray belongs to a color family we refer to as neutrals.

The function of neutrals vary from painting to painting and can be used as much or as little as you prefer. I prefer pops of vivid, bold colors, so I use neutrals next to my bold colors to help them pop. If you’re an artist who uses a less saturated palette, gray probably plays a larger role in your work.

Another use for gray paint is to tone your canvas or palette, laying down a quick, gray or colored background. Starting with a white canvas, paper, or board makes it difficult to interpret colors correctly. A neutral background like gray helps your eyes to see and compare color better.

An added bonus to toning your canvas? It minimizes “blank canvas syndrome” - that daunting pressure you may feel when you don’t know what to paint!

The same concept can be used off the canvas too. If you’re using a glass paint palette, you can paint the underside gray. If you prefer palette paper, look for one that is gray so that you can get right to work,

Gray is a versatile color that you will learn to love the more you explore it. We will continue our discussion on gray- how to mix it and wield it - in blog posts to come.

1 Response


July 14, 2020

Toning the canvas gray, never thought much about gray but I will in the future Thanks

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