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Using Black Paint as a Colour

Updated on March 1, 2020
Sharon Wadsworth-Smith profile image

Sharon Wadsworth-Smith lives on a lake in Nova Scotia, creating captivating acrylic paintings, rich with texture and loose brushwork.

Which painting was created using Ivory and which one using Mars Black ?

Well Loved and On The Line
Well Loved and On The Line | Source

I know, black is not a colour right?

I know, black is not a colour right? I remember the rules I learned when I was working in watercolour.

Rule 1. Never use black

Rule 2. Never, ever use black

Rule 3. Refer to rule 1 and 2

I am not going to say the rules are wrong. I know what it looks like when a new artist hoping to darken their colour adds a bit of black and totally flattens out the painting. I also know that it is important to learn how to use the other colours proficiently before you add black. But hey, I am working in acrylic now, and I found out that black and yellow make an awesome green! But which black do you use?

New rule. Not all black is the same.

Yes, you heard me right, they are actually entirely different colours and I am just now beginning to understand them, a wee bit. When I first started to add black to my palette, I chose the one that seemed to make sense, Ivory Black. The name itself is a contradiction as ivory is actually white in my mind, but hey, I did not have anything to do with the name. It created lovely blue infused darks and made a vibrant but real green mixed with yellow. I started to experiment with more subtly toned paintings rich with greys and added some light dustings of other colour to them with pleasantly interesting results.

Then it happened. I ran out of Ivory black and had to buy Mars black. It's just black I said to myself. Ooops wrong. It created warm dusky greys that reminded me of the sepia-toned photos in my mom's collection. It also lends itself to a more realistic warm green when mixed with yellow.

Look at the 2 paintings and guess which one is created using Ivory and which is Mars Black.

And now, another rule in watercolour is, never use white! Of course not, you have the white of the paper to gleam through right? But that is another blog for another day!

© 2020 Sharon Wadsworth-Smith

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    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 

      3 weeks ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I love paint!

    working

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