When asked, my beginning students asked about the possibility of having a lesson or two on how to get good, strong darks. They are having trouble getting good darks and wondered how I do it. So I did some color swatches and realized that the reason I get good darks is because I'm starting out with some pretty dark pigments! I hadn't realized how dark my palette colors are - and all the colors I buy that aren't on my palette but are in my bag. When you begin your color mixes with these colors, you can't help but get good dark greys and "blacks" of different temperatures! Of course, I mixed colors to see what darks I could get and what variety I got, too - and that may be the lesson the students get. I think they enjoy making swatches and I will contain it to just single pigment colors that are transparent or semi-transparent, so they don't have to worry about making mud. (Almost all of my colors are transparent or semi-transparent.)
What's on your palette? Dark colors, light colors, or a good mix of both? Which colors are your favorite mixes for darks? Here are some of mine I played with...
These were made by putting one color on the left side, one color on the right side, and then blending in the middle. Sometimes one of the color was so pushy, it just took over the other side. The Prussian Blue flowed right into the Pyrrol Crimson and then the blue side dried while the crimson side remained wet much longer, making that edge. Other just flowed and remained in the middle.
The bottom mix is the traditional Burnt Umber + French Ultramarine Blue (both Daniel Smith colors). I didn't care for what it did although it separated and granulated a lot but the mixed color is very dark and muddy looking to me. But the Burnt Umber is pretty muddy looking. I decided using the newer Transparent Brown color (which Christopher Leeper turned me on to in his workshop last fall) is a prettier pigment and a better mixer.
When I mix my colors, I always think about complementary colors and how they work together. So when I have a reddish brown (Transparent Brown), I mix it with a greenish blue (Prussian Blue), thinking that the reddish brown is my "orange" and the greenish blue is my "blue" complementary colors.
The reddish violet then mixes with a greenish color (Viridian, a color I never use but looks pretty good mixed with this Mineral Violet from Holbein).
At the bottom, I mixed the two colors directly, putting them both down wet and brushing just enough to mix them. So Indanthrone and Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet (another color I had yet to use!) makes a good grey-brown warm color while Prussian Blue and Pyrrol Crimson makes a good dark grey, almost black that looks cool to me.
It's a fun process, without much stress involved, and you learn to renew your palette colors (Transparent Brown and Quin Burnt Scarlet and Pyrrol Crimson are all going on my palette now instead of in my bag) for the new year!
I hope when you click on the photos, they enlarge enough so you can read the colors well.
Now on to painting a little black calf to try out those new mixes!
I hope you are safe and warm, wherever you are. We are having our first real snowstorm of the year - supposed to get up to 4 inches today with a winter weather advisory from 7 am this morning to 7 am tomorrow morning! Get out the shovels and snowshoes!!!