What color is this bra?

I am completely stumped. For the life of me, I cannot match this color. I am working from life. Yes, this is a bra.

Every color I hold up looks gray brown. Even black (just ultramarine blue and burnt umber) looks gray. 

The problem is, I'm going to paint the background black, obviously. I can't see how to darken this color any more. 

I have balanced my whites, and I'm just confused as to why I can't make this color. In Mark's video on studio light, he recommends painting a canvas black and says if it looks gray, your studio light is too bright. I did that, and my canvas looks black, not gray. Therefore I don't think the lights are too bright. 

I'm using everything Mark recommends, and this is my third painting. I've finished penciling and I'm now trying to color mix. Using his slow-drying medium recipe and Windsor Newton Artist Oil colors, I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong. The paint is very translucent (to me). I don't know what this translucence would really have to do with not being able to mix that dark color. Maybe I'm trying to say I think there's not enough pigment there to bounce the light or something. 

I also tried mixing the brightest color and dirtying it down to get there. It still looked gray. I'm guessing because the bright color (which I could match perfectly) was red + white, and the white couldn't be removed.

This is alizarin crimson + Mark's slow-dry medium painted purely on the color checker, and the color checker without anything painted on. Is this as it should be? 


What color looks like on my glass palette: 

Thanks as always for your help. Your encouragement has kept me going.


  • edited January 16
    Don't throw any white in there it will milk up your shadow. This is quite a saturated dark. First adjust value starting with alizarin Then adjust saturation by neutralizing some of the red if needed. Easier to overshoot saturation first and then adjust. Ultramarine plus brown will give you grey because they neutralize each other, it's normal that it looks greyer compared to your saturated cold red shadow. The color on your color checker looks way brighter than the shadow in the photo. 
  • Thanks @atalanta for sharing this puzzle.

    I'm new so I'm familiar with Mark's videos but little practical experience.

    Mark mentions that 'too grey = too blue'. Perhaps start with red then darken with brown. This would avoid the blue in Mark's mixed black. I give it a 3% chance of being the full answer. 

    In another video he talks about 'power colours' where he tackles colours that the 5 base paints can't recreate. Let me know if you need any links. 

    Fingers crossed for you.
  • It looks like the pallet is not in the same amount of light as the light you show where the paint looks redder.  Also the white pallet is going to make the color look darker.
    If I were to try the dark bra color in your first pic I would start by mixing a “black” using ultramarine blue and adding a little burnt umber at a time until I got a dark “black” That “black” will be more blue than brown because I would stop adding burnt umber when it gets to the darkest value.
    Then I would take a bit of that “black” and slowly add just a little pyrrol red checking the color on the color checker until the value matches.  After matching the value (the edge disappears when checking) I would see if the color needs to be a bit more blue red or orange and make tiny adjustments checking each time til it matches.
  • edited January 17
    I think @GTO's suggestion is a good approach. If you still can't hit the color with Alizarin or Pyrrole, you could try Quinacridone crimson. One other point I'd make is that, as Mark says, it's the value that is of primary importance. A slight difference in hue won't matter much. 
  • Thanks all. Much to think about. 

    @heartofengland Welcome--everyone here is very nice and helpful. They haven't thrown me out yet and all I do is pepper them a barrage of beginner problems. 

    @GTO the palette is actually the color of the canvas, a neutral brown recommended by Mark. I think this shows how hard it is for colors to come through in the photos. But it also made me think you are completely right about the studio light. For it to appear white to you in this picture shows how much light was hitting that palette and washing it out. Something was/is not right. Especially because I took the picture at an angle intended to avoid glare from the studio light.

    Here's what I did to try to remedy this. (Again, my main problem is that every color looks too light and gray when trying to reach that dark color.)

    I tried wrapping parchment paper around my shop light last night, and that diffusion improved things, I think.

    I rebalanced my white paint with white paint in the shadow box. It's very hard for me to see when some colors have the same value but different hue/color. White is particularly difficult for me. I think "there it is. Oh, no. There it is. No. Wait. There we go. Etc."

    I'm using a 4000k, 5000 lumen shop light, the bottom of which is maybe 4" from an 8' ceiling. It's 35 degrees from my canvas. I'm only now learning about CRI (color rendering index) of a light source. Here's the relevant info from that link: 

    Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a way to measure a light source's distinctive attributes. It is an assessment of how the light source shows object colors "naturally" when compared to a familiar basis of reference, either incandescent light or daylight.

    The color rendering index (CRI) is measured as a number between 0 and 100. At zero (0), all colors look the same. A CRI of 100 shows the true colors of the object. Incandescent and halogen light sources have a CRI of 100.

    Typically, light sources with a CRI of 80 to 90 are regarded as good and those with a CRI of 90+ are excellent! The general rule is: The higher the CRI, the better the color rendering capacity.

    CRI is independent of color temperature. These are two different things. For example, a 5000K (daylight color temperature) fluorescent light source could have a CRI of 75, but another 5000K fluorescent light source can have a CRI of 90.

    This chart is a good depiction of differing CRIs, with each image having the same warm color temperature (2700K):

    Since my studio light is a cheap Harbor Freight LED, I suspect its CRI is very low. My next studio upgrade will be to get a high CRI light source. 

    Inside the shadow box is another (likely low CRI) light: a Wiz light bulb controllable by an app. My other two paintings were completed with a more standard (though still probably low CRI) bulb. I'm going to upgrade this as well. These Wiz lights are great for automatically shifting the light in the hallway to a soft glow at 10pm. Probably not great for seeing color though.

    The final thing I did was attempt to balance black as well as white. I painted another 45 degree piece with black paint and put it in the shadow box. They were much closer than before the parchment went on the shop light. 

    This is already too long, but I added the detail in the hopes it helps someone searching the forum later. 
  • Hopefully all that will help. Perhaps you could take a picture of your overall setup so we can help more?
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