Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Creating Rich Darks

In transparent watercolor, being able to paint rich, luminous darks can be very rewarding and very frustrating. The frustration almost always happens when artists fail to create a fluid, saturated mixture. They select a color that's dark by nature, like Prussian Blue, water it down and layer it over mid-tones. Because it lacks intensity it fades to a dirty gray.
The trick is to make a large puddle of pigment (any dark color will do) on your palette and keep adding pigment until the puddle becomes very dark and intense, but still remains fluid. If I would compare this puddle to something that we all know, it should have the consistency somewhere between whole milk and cream: maybe half & half?
Float this color with a soft brush over the desired area. Avoid scrubbing or working it into the underlying colors. This makes mud. You can create color variation by dropping some equally dark colors into the area while it's wet (sometimes called "charging").
It works for me. Remember: fluid darks, soft brush and float the colors.
Let me know if you have any other ideas that you'd like to share. I'd be glad to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. I know first had what you mean as I am one of those who layers like crazy. I have noticed the dullness and it bothers me. You've inspired me to re-think the way I do things. Wonderful painting; I'm particularly intrigued by how the abstract structure serves your design.