There Are Angels

There Are Angels
Colored Pencil Drawing

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Judicious Use of Black in Painting

Black is not actually a color, but it the absence of any color. However "black" is color used in painting as a dark tone. It can indicate darkened
or shaded areas of the painting. It can be the actual color of an object, for example a black cat or a black umbrella. Black can be cool, warm or neutral
in tone. Many artists prefer to mix their own black from a dark blue  plus dark brown, Prussian blue and burnt umber are popular colors used to make black.
the most common black paint in the art world is lamp black which comes in a tube, jar or pan, depending on the medium the artist is using.

There are several ways to successfully add black to a painting. Layering is one of the best ways to "build" a black or dark area of a
painting. Paint in washes or glazes first, then add glazes of color, alternating with the black for the first few layers, finishing with the
color of the object.  Another method of adding black to shaded areas is to add thin lines of black against the edge of the underlying object,
then dilute the lines to gradually fade it out to nothing. This is shown in the photo below, on the left with the leaves.

Keep in mind that there is a thing such as too much black. It can turn a painting into a disaster. Less is more  when using black. Black is a staining color
which cannot be completely lifted to reveal the original color. Many times it must painted over, with many coats, to return the original color.

The best way to determine the placement of black tones in a painting is to really study the subject for light and dark areas and plan
 the painting around that. Many artists make sketches showing light and dark areas before beginning to paint. Planning a painting this
way will help adding the dark and light areas to appear naturally in the finished painting.