Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What About Black Watercolor?

Over the weekend, I painted one of my cats who unfortunately is black. I love her coat and she's the loviest cat I've ever owned but when it comes to painting her, it's tricky. When I first started using watercolors, I was a purist. I heard so much about watercolorists not using black that I just accepted that as truth. Of course, there are ways you can mix black rather than using black straight from a tube. A nice rich black can be achieved using alizarin crimson, pthalo green and ultramarine (or whatever dk red, green & blue you have). Recently, I decided to scrap the notion that watercolorists have to avoid black. I also decided to do  my own little test and see what all the talk is about black watercolor. Below is my experiment. I painted lamp black in a square as my "control" and then I mixed up different blacks. See what you think.

I realize all monitors are slightly different but honestly I cannot distinguish a major difference between these in person or on my monitor. Comments?

So I painted Juliet using various mixtures of lamp black with ultramarine, perm aliz crimson and pthalo green just for the heck of it. I do like it when the wash is lighter and you can see hints of another color, but overall the black looks black to me. ;)


Theresa Rhodus said...

I can see the differences in the blacks but that's a good thing. Maybe because I've mixed for black before. I love the mixed blacks. They are great to achieve the blue and purple highlights you see in black. Straight black is just too flat. Beautiful Kitty. So peaceful. (sorry I didn't make the meeting, lots of chaos here!)

artistecathy said...

So glad to see this! I had a project for a black dog and was so intimidated by mixing blacks that I gave up and did it in graphite . . . . that was fun but not as "rich" as the watercolor. I have another project coming up and I'm going to try your suggestions! Thanks!

Kathy Jurek said...

Hey Theresa, we missed you. I don't see a huge difference but I think I prefer to at least add additional color to my black when I'm painting an animal anyway. I am also happy to mix the 3 I mentioned to make black. I guess it depends on how dark you want to go and with this post I was thinking when you want to go really black.

Cathy I'm glad this helped. What I do like about mixing colors to make black or into your black is that when you get lighter areas, those colors kind of glow and make your painting more lively. Maybe that's what other artists mean by a black that isn't flat? ;)

Amanda Makepeace said...

Great post! I too have a black cat and find it difficult to get that across in watercolors.

Check out the EBSQ Blog on Friday(http://blog.ebsqart.com), I've listed this post in the Friday Five!

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