Need help with my reds and blacks

Hi I am new to this forum, but thoroughly appreciate Mark's technique. I have completed two portraits of my grands and am currently working on a commission of a dad and his daughter in their Tlingit regalia. I can't seem to get the right red color or blackest black. I've tried all sorts of variations of cad red and alizarin crimson. Any suggestions?


  • I believe you are working from a computer screen or are you working from a printed image?
  • My ipad. That is part of the problem. The dad didn't have a high resolution print for me. But the red is accurate.
  • The painting looks great to me!
  • Thanks rgr, the dad was happy with the faces, just wanted the red punched up more. I totally agree with him. I think what I need to do is find something the exact shade that I can put my brush on to check the color better. Can't do that with my ipad!
  • Try "Winsor & Newton Cadmium Red Deep" from the supply list.
    Mark refers to it as "power red."
  • edited January 2014
    Thanks johnw, I will do that today.
  • Computer monitors can display millions of colors, producing a richness of color that is better than even the best quality color printing. Computer displays show color images using the additive RGB (red-green-blue) color system, which can display a much broader and subtler range of colors than conventional four-color printing. This can also be described as transilluminated display — the colored light shines out from the screen. Transilluminated images deliver a much greater range of contrast and color intensity than images printed on opaque paper, which depend on reflected light.

    This is one of the issues we face when working from photographs or computer screens instead of working from life, hues and values will often look way different. In his videos, Mark does mentioned that there will be times when our blackest paint will not match the darkest shadow. Also I noticed that the red from your reference photo is over saturated and if you were to print it you will see a less intense red. The "Power Red" from the supply list will be your best bet but since I haven't had a chance to use it yet I do not know how closely it will match the color you're seeing.
  • I hope I'm not flying in the face of "the accepted way," but I often wonder how important it is to get a perfect color/value match every time. I'm sure the old masters, as well as contemporary artists work diligently to put down correct colors, but once the painting is finished and hanging on a wall somewhere, how many viewers will look at it and say, that yellow is actually a half a value lighter and one step closer to cad yellow deep. In the end, the important thing is the overall effect/impact your painting has. Does it flow, does it carry, does it make the physical and emotional impact you aimed for? This is not a rant for sloppy work. I sweat thumbtacks and horned toads trying to get color/value right. Also, nowadays, so many artists work from photos, and many are now working from computer monitors . . . both of these things are notorious for skewing colors and values. I've come to this "get it close" idea after years of working from photos in my mission to paint free for parents portraits of their children killed in the war. I've never yet had a parent complain that their child's uniform was half a step lighter or darker.
  • dencaldencal -
    edited January 2014

    Relax. Your in the right place. The realist/impressionist - tight/loose boundary is alive and well here at DMP.

    Mark shows us with consummate ease how to achieve natural realism. He does so with the encouragement that armed with this skill you will do better in any other style you choose.

    The alternative, without a CC, PD, limited palette and value control is to flounder around with 500 tubes of paint with another half dozen on the list for next time you go shopping. Lost in the spectrum.

    Many Forum members strive to achieve the perfect rendering of form with values, knowing that when the time comes and we reach for larger brushes, we will know what we are doing.

    An artist once urged "learn the rules of art , so you can break them". Seems to contain a germ of wisdom.

    For me the 'overall impact' you speak of is about; the nuance in the turn of a cheek, the detail in the shadow at the nape of the neck, the flow of light across the body, the dimensional solidity of the cup, the transparency of the leaf shapes. All dependent on value.

  • Thank again for the comments. The main reason I was trying so hard to match the exact shade was that the man who commissioned me wasn't happy with the red. I do believe I have it now, though.
  • Who knows what color red yon client really sees? ;)
  • Yes, I'm at the point where I will charge him extra to do more changes.
  • First of all, great painting. Next, here is a link to a Winsor Newton artists paint color chart.
    I think the Bright red with the deep red might work out ok. You might try it as a glaze (let the paint dry, buy some glazing medium, apply a light coat onto canvas, wipe off with soft cloth or paper towel then add some red where you need it, 'punched up').
    There just may not be a red paint to match such a bright red we are seeing but you might get pretty close.
  • Thanks Melissa. I had forgotten about glazing.
  • Glad I could help. Hope it all works out well.
  • I worked on the reds and got it. Customer just picked up the piece and was very happy with it.
  • What was the secret to fixing it?
  • Believe it or not...on the first go round, I tried blending the alizarin crimson with the yellow/white/brown. I just couldn't get the right shade. When I simply used the alizarin crimson straight, it was just the color needed! I guess I tried to get too complicated.
  • Very glad that worked out for you, the work logo great.
  • Looks! logo, scheece! :D
  • So much brighter. It really pops now! Well done! What did the dad have to say about it after the touch up?
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