Don’t Use Black Paint in Landscape Paintings

Explains why we don’t use black in landscape painting.

Don’t Use Black Paint in Landscape Paintings

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Don’t use black, it is not a color that is found in nature.

Don’t use black because the black looking colors that we see in nature are a combination of all the color around.
The actual colors of an object which might look very close to black but it is not the man made black as seen in black paint.
So if you paint a black stump that has been through a bush fire it is easy to grab a tube of black paint and go for it but your painting will remain in the low standard of craftsmanship.
The black paint is a man made color and holds none of the real colors of the burnt stump which is colored not only by the black looking charcoal but with the reflected light from surrounding objects and the atmosphere which might be influenced by the colors of an unseen sky.

The easy way to mix a color black for your paintings is to take the darkest blue from the palette of the painting and add some burnt sienna.

Dark blue and burnt sienna but that is not all there is to it.

To get the real color black for your painting you should mix a little burnt sienna into the dark blue and also add a little of the red or crimson or whatever color that is also in your landscape that might be reflecting onto the area where you are adding your black.
The colors reflecting onto the black might be a brilliant patch of green grass or an orange toned rock.
You do not need to add a great amount of these odd colors and most important you must not mix the colors completely.

You can half mix the colors

and let the brush do the mixing when you apply the color to your work.
Then you have it, a black just like that black looking color that is made by nature.
You have mixed the darkest dark and if you look closely you will see streaks of every color, just like as in nature.
Those streaks of all the colors is the reflected lights and the atmosphere and the light shining from an unseen sky.
When using the black looking color in the distance you might leave out some of the ‘reflected light colors’ but in the distance the colors fade and therefore you will need to add the colors of the atmosphere
If it’s a blue sky then you will add white and blue and if it’s a red sunset you will add white and red but never reach for that tube of black or grey, it just looks terrible and cheapens a painting.
Don’t try darkening a color by adding black paint out of a tube, it rarely works because it might be the only black paint in the painting and even if it is mixed well into the other colors it will look like a mistake and will be seen at first glance by a trained eye.

Black paint can look like a hole in your canvas.

Black paint has no natural life in it.
Black paint can leave your work in the amateurs basket.
Black paint is a man made color.
Mix your own black paint from the colors on the palette.
A mixed black paint can show life.
A mixed black paint can have reflected light through it.
A mixed black paint looks natural.
 
by Len Hend

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