Mark's Black Isn't Black Enough

edited March 2014 in Color Mixing
I'm working on a black ceramic vase. The blackest I can get starting with 2 parts burnt umber and 3 parts blue isn't black enough for much of the vase. My mix works fine in the lighter areas (next step). Should I use the blackest I can get and then do a half step for the next step. In the grand scheme of things, no one will know unless they see the vase and painting side-by-side. Seems I remember Mark mentioning this is the video, guess I'll have to watch it again.


  • @junebug,
    What Mark said is true. But if you want to try an experiment mix a patch with Mark's mix and then, try mixing a small patch of color using ivory or mars black. Just a thought. :)
  • edited March 2014

    Thanks for the help. I painted the vase today and ended up doing the half step, i.e., cheating a little bit. I think I just picked the wrong thing to paint. It's a ceramic vase and the glaze is solid black at the top, but the light shining on it makes it grayish in places. At the bottom it's like a wash of blackish green on gray. Also, the glazes are hard (for me) to paint because the potter has used her creativity and on the canvas it looks odd. I found it very difficult to make the flowers look 3D - hard edges with semi-impasto seemed to work best. The painting looks very flat. But, once again I learned a lot. (That is not my shadow box, it's the bookshelf of the matching vase.)
    vase.jpg 104.5K
  • Junebug

    Looks good. The flowers do stand in relief to the vase. Photo a bit fuzzy (tripod) but nice lighting.

  • Denis, that's the vase. I wish I could paint that well. :((
  • Several things to consider. Value often depends on what is around it. If you lighten values around your dark, your dark will appear darker. A well-known portrait painter with whom I have studied, goes against the admonition to work from dark to light, especially when painting portraits of businessmen in white shirts. He blocks in the white shirt very early on in the process because, he says, if he waits until near the end, it makes the face/flesh look too dark.

    I wish I could remember the two artists who had this reported conversation, but in general, it went something like this . . . one of them, noticing black on the palette of his companion, said, I couldn't paint with black on my palette, and the other replied, I couldn't paint without it.
  • When it gets difficult try turning the canvas upside down and concentrate on shapes, forms & color and drawing. :)>-
  • Junebug, I agree with Broker 12 when he stated what I learned from my master teachers long ago '...if you lighten values around your dark, your dark will appear darker.' And I use the principle of including a white or near white to define the black.
  • edited October 2014
    Junebug: Mark's recommendation of using only 5 colors notwithstanding, ivory black is a nice black with an undertone of blue. So you can think of it as a very dark ultramarine, and then add burnt umber for some interesting tones. Because of the blue, ivory black in combination with yellow ochre can make an interesting dark muted green for some parts of your vase.
  • Having the same issues! This thread is useful/helpful. :D
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