Picnic Island - 6"x8" oil on canvas
You may never have heard the term "Oxford comma", but you've likely seen it many times. It's the second comma in the phrase "red, white, and blue". Also called the serial comma, whether to use it is a matter of personal preference. Google can fill you in on the pros and cons. Recently overhearing a conversation about the comma, I started thinking about similarly controversial topics in painting, of which I'm sure there are many!
Before Sunrise - 7"x5" oil on linen panel
The topic I came up with for today is whether to include black paint on your palette, or to mix your blacks from other colors. Once again, this is a matter of personal preference. Those on the pro side include the Tonalists, who use black to limit chroma, even in their skies. I used that approach in the example above years ago in a class taught by Deborah Paris.
Little Whaleboat Island - 5"x10" oil on canvas board
Black is also commonly used with various yellows to make greens. The painting at the top of this email and the one above this paragraph were painted using black and cadmium yellow medium to create the greens. It works really well.
Of course there is more than one black paint on the market. The most common are Mars black, Lamp black, and Ivory black. Mars black is made from iron oxide, Lamp and Ivory black are made from carbon. The later are somewhat transparent and slow drying, the former is opaque. For more information look here. I've read comments online as to which of these blacks is more warm or cool, but it sounds like the variations between the manufacturers may swamp this distinction. The bottom line is you'll have to try them for yourself.
The Sternman - 16"x20" oil on canvas panel
No black paint was used in this painting.
On the con side, black paint is said to dull or kill whatever it's mixed with. Mixing your black and dark colors alleviates this problem. Some popular combinations are burnt sienna or burnt umber with ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson with viridian. If you're willing to mix three colors, there are many possibilities. Personally I like transparency in my darkest darks, so burnt sienna and ultramarine blue work well, and can be mixed to a strong black. And I use ultramarine blue and cadmium red medium with differing small amounts of cadmium yellow medium when I want to steer the mix towards dark purple (minimal cad yellow), dark red, dark blue, dark green, or dark brown.
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Bobbi - Painter. Sketcher. Teacher. Boat and Dog Lover.