Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tippette #21 - Mixing Rich Blacks and Pretty Grays

Tippette = Snippet of a Tip (in watercolor).  One per day...during April...right here!  Tell a friend!

Mixing Rich Blacks and Pretty Grays

Although I do have more than one black that I keep in my arsenal (ivory black and lamp black), rare is the time that I use them "straight". If I want a section of my painting to look dark, I mix other colors to create the look of black.  This certainly creates more interesting patterns in my dark areas.
"At the End of the Day II" (watercolor with pen and ink) by Helen K Beacham - Sold.
No black used in this painting, other than the drawing lines.
Experiment with some of these mixtures below.  Depending on the ratio of your pigments, you can come up with "warmer" blacks or "cooler" blacks, both of which are useful for their individual purposes.  

Burnt Sienna + French Ultramarine Blue
Cadmium Red Light + French Ultramarine Blue
Cadmium Red Light + French Ultramarine Blue + Aureolin Yellow
Alizarin Crimson + Thalo Green
Alizarin Crimson + Hooker's Green
Alizarin Crimson + Hooker's Green + French Ultramarine Blue
There are infinitely more mixtures available to you...this is just a start.  

If you add more water to the mixes shown above, you transform the blacks into beautiful, soft grays.  Extra tip: Really, any mixture of 3 primaries will result in pretty grays.  Even in the 2-color mixtures above, if you think about it, it's 3 primaries that you're using.  For instance, in the Alizarin Crimson/Hookers Green combo, the green is made up of yellow and blue.  Added to the red (Alizarin Crimson), you get a gray.  There are an infinite number of combinations you can make as a result of whatever colors you already have on your palette.

"Cypress Knees" by Helen K Beacham - Available.
The water in the foreground comes off looking gray (*), but it's made up of blue, green and alizarin.

(*) Watercolor artists are all about the "illusions" we can provide our viewers.
As for my ivory black and lamp black, I'll sometimes add just a Touch to a mixture when I want it to bleed more or cause some granulation in my wash.  It's not even usually to make something darker.  Try it yourself and see!

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