I think the best advice ever given to me was to never use black and white.

Why? Because it takes away from the vibrancy of the color. They dull things. Sure, it’s fine to use black to darken or white to lighten—if you need a specific color.

Now, this isn’t a written-in-stone kind of rule. Or really a rule at all.

Simply good advice.

How can you accomplish this? Pretty simple actually. Just use a lighter color out of the tube.

Need a lighter blue? Get a lighter blue.

Need a darker green? Get a darker green.

Mixing can help as well. If you happen to have a lighter color and a darker color you can mix them together to get the shade you need. As long as they’re the same color, of course.

Now you may be asking: but, you still need white and black for, well, black and white, right? Not really.

Of course you can. It really depends more on what you’re painting. I’ve painted several paintings not using black or white at all. But I’ve also used them on others as well. Plain white paint is definitely a good color to use for extreme highlights. But also not necessary.

I’ve used this before in another example. But this is a painting I did back in college using the same technique I’m teaching you now. It was more of a study on warm vs. cool colors, but it’s still the same idea. For this, I used bright yellow for the strongest highlights and dark blues and purples for the darker parts. Which leads me to another great tip: how to mix your own black paint.

This was (and still is) one of the coolest things I have ever learned. To make black you simply mix dark blue and dark purple together. The darker the original colors are the better. I use “dioxazine purple” and “french ultramarine blue”. These two make a beautiful dark velvety-black color. Of course you can get it to be more blue or purple if you like (and less black) depending on how much of each you mix together. It’s good to test it out first to see if it’s the right amount you need before you start painting.

I prefer mixing my own black instead of using black. However, like I said earlier, there are other circumstances that call for black. But use your own judgment.

This is an unfinished painting that I’ve put off for some time. I’m using this as an example because I used the purple-blue technique for the background. Simply because the dragon is going to be blue. I wanted to stick with the cool blue/purple color scheme. Black would’ve worked here as well, but it wouldn’t have “mingled” as well.
Here, I just used plain black for the background. I believe the purple-blue would’ve worked here too. But I cared less about integrating the background with the rose, since it was the focal point.

Overall, the best way to use this information is to just use your better judgment. Sometimes going color-crazy is the best route for what you’re looking for and other times you might need it to look washed-out and dull.

As always, I hope this little tid-bit of information was helpful to you. Be sure to check me out on facebook, Hayley Boothe Art.

Happy arts-ing!

Since my last post was talking about the difference in paints. I wanted to touch on how to properly mix them. With that said, there isn’t really a “proper” way to mix them, it’s more about knowing what to mix together.

If you’ll recall in my color theory post, I mention warm vs. cool colors. It’s good to know about them so you don’t get the wrong colors mixed together and end up with an ugly color.

I can’t tell you how to set up your painting area, but I can tell you how to select your paints. To do this it’s more about sight and knowing what you’re looking at. (Yes I will drill this into your head.) Before you even begin to paint you must pick out your color scheme. It doesn’t matter what you’re painting, or how it’s going to look, but knowing what you’re going to be doing. Always plan ahead. Good life lesson too, no?

I love Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, so I’ll use this one as an example. The main color scheme here is obviously blue, although not monochromatic (analogous). Just looking at this you can probably tell she used 2 different kinds of blue, black, orange, yellow, and white. Maybe some more, maybe some less, but you get the picture. If you are painting from real life, or from a photo, it’s always good to study your subject first. If only to understand what colors you would be working with. Not only that, but to decide whether you need warm colors or cool colors. Here, obviously it’s mostly cool colors—being blue. But also remember that not all cool colors are considered cool and vice versa.

Take yellow ochre as an example.

This image makes it look a little warmer that it actually is (or maybe that’s just my monitor). But I never use this particular yellow in warm color schemes. It simply doesn’t mix well.

You may never know whether a particular color is warm or cool by just looking at it either. Sometimes you just have to try it out. Be sure to test it out on a palette first. Don’t immediately start painting with it! Also, don’t be afraid of wasting paint (but don’t excessively use it either).

Happy painting!