Colored blacks and Watercolor Sketches || Negruri colorate si Schite in Acuarela

watercolor sketch plein-air

[EN]

A few days ago I bought myself a nice little box of Windsor & Newton watercolors. I love them, the colors are vibrant and rich, the box is cute, but they have two tiny flaws:

No. 1 –  the colors don’t dry very fast and remain a bit too gooey even hours after I stop using them; and because I mainly use them out and about and keep them in my bag, they move around in the box and get stuck to the lid;

No. 2 – there is no black color pan inside!!! And what do you do when life doesn’t give you a black color pan in your watercolor travel box? You effing mix that black yourself!  And this takes us to the subject of my little blog post today: colored blacks. This time I’m in a for a longer article because I think some of you might find this info useful.

What are colored blacks, how to mixed them and why to use them? Keep on reading.

Colored blacks do not mean black mixed with colors but black mix out of colors. Yes, that’s right! “But is that even possible and how does it actually look on paper? It probably looks muddy.”  Well, do you see the black in my two watercolor sketches? (I apologize for the crappy image quality!) That’s not black, it’s burnt umber mixed with ultramarine blue. Does it look muddy? It sure does on the mixing tray, but not in the painting. Why? Because colors are perceived by the human eye in relation to each other (also remember that watercolors dry a few shades darker). Eugene Delacroix famously said “I can paint you the skin of Venus with mud, provided you let me surround it as I will.”  There’s an entire essay on color theory in that one sentence. Remember it! 

You can mix blacks out of many colors, not just the ones I’ve used. Experiment with the darkest colors you have available on your palette. You’ll be amazed. But don’t expect to create the same black you get out of the tube, you’re not going to get it and you’re not aiming for it. Instead, focus on harmonizing it with the rest of your palette.

Now, WHY use colored blacks? Because they bring an extraordinary vibrancy, luminosity and realism to your painting. In nature, nothing is purely black. Pure blacks are only found where there is no light. Black is the absence of light, the absence of light means the absence of color. That pretty much means there’s nothing for you to paint there anyway. But under some sort of light conditions (even one candle burning in a dark room) the black will pick up on its color and also on the color of the objects around it (sometimes more, some times less, depending on the texture of the black object and on the texture of the objects around it). Shadows, coal, black forged iron, black leather, the night sky, they are not pure blacks, even if you can swear that that is what your eyes see. As artists we know that the eye is deceiving and we’re not meant to imitate what we see, we’re meant to make a conscious decision about how to create an illusion on paper/canvas/pixels and how to best represent the harmony of colors that we see around us.

Now, let me get things straight: if you love your black and the two of you can’t be parted, that’s not an artistic sin. Use it right and carefully and it will look good. But just remember that using pure black (on its own or mixed with other colors) lowers the chroma of your painting, while using colored blacks gives your painting a lively vibrancy and  luminosity.

watercolor sketch plein-air

 

[RO]

De curand mi-am cumparat o cutie mica de acuarele Windsor & Newton pe care sa le pot lua cu mine “pe teren”, pentru mici schite plein-air. Sunt foarte multumita de ea. Culorile sunt vii si acopera foarte bine, cutia e draguta, dar are si doua defecte:

Nr. 1 – pastilele de culoare raman moi si se usuca greu, chiar si la cateva ore dupa ce le-am folosit si cum tin cutia in geanta atunci cand o iau cu mine si se misca dintr-o parte in alta inauntru, le gasesc lipite de capac;

Nr. 2 – nu are negru!!! Ce e de facut? Il preparam. Am ajuns deci si la subiectul micului meu articol de azi: negruri colorate. Am sa scriu mai mult decat de obicei cu ocazia asta, deoarece cred ca informatiile de mai jos vor prinde bine multora.

Ce sunt negrurile colorate, cum le obtinem si la ce ne trebuie? Cititi mai departe.

Negrul colorat nu este negru mestecat cu culori, ci negru amestecat DIN culori. Da, ati citit bine! “Dar cum este posibil si cum arata pe hartie? Probabil arata ca o culoare murdara.” Vedeti negrul din cele doua schite in acuarela ale mele? (calitatea imaginii e foarte proasta, imi cer scuze!) Nu este negru, este Umbra Arsa amestecata cu Albastru Ultramarin. Arata ca o culoare murdara? Arata pe paleta de amestec, dar nu si in pictura. De ce? Pentru ca ochiul uman percepe culorile prin relatia dintre ele. Eugene Delacroix a facut binecunoscuta afirmatie “Iti pot picta pielea zeitei Venus din noroi, daca ma lasi sa o inconjor cu culorile pe care le vreau.”  Afirmatia asta contine un intreg eseu asupra teoriei culorii. Tine-o minte! 🙂

Puteti obtine negruri colorate nu doar Umbra Arsa si Ultramarin, ci din orice culori inchise pe care le aveti in paleta (personal prefer sa amestec o culoare rece inchisa si o culoare calda inchisa). Experimentati, o sa fiti uimiti. Dar tineti minte ca scopul nu este sa obtineti aceelasi negru ca cel pe care il aveti in tub, nici nu o sa puteti si nici nu trebuie sa vreti asta. Ideea este sa armonizati negrul obtinut cu restul lucrarii.

Acum, DE CE sa ne preparam propriul negru? Pentru ca ofera vivacitate, luminozitate si un realism minunat lucrarii. In natura, negrul in stare pura (ca cel din tub) este gasit doar acolo unde nu este lumina. Negrul este absenta luminii si unde nu este lumina nu este nici culoare. In astfel de conditii nici nu prea ai ce sa pictezi, nu? In orice tip de lumina, negrul reflecta si imprumuta din culoarea luminii (chiar si cand sursa de lumina este doar o lumanare) si din culoarea obiectelor din jur (uneori mai mult, alteori mai putin, in functie si de materialul din care este facut obiectul negru si obiectul din apropierea lui). Umbrele, carbunele, fierul negru forjat, pielea neagra, cerul noptii, nu sunt negre, chiar daca poti jura ca asta culoare o vezi cu ochii tai. Ca artisti stim ca perceptia ochilor este inselatoare, de aceea rolul nostru este sa luam decizii constiente in privinta felului in care cream iluzii pe hartie/ panza/ pixeli si a felului in care redam armonia culorilor din jurul nostru.

Acum, sa clarific un lucru: daca iubesti negrul si nu te poti desparti de el, nu esti un rebut al lumii artistice. Foloseste-l cu grija si va arata bine. Tine minte doar faptul ca negrul (direct din tub si amestecat cu alte culori) intuneca cromatica lucrarii, in timp ce negrurile colorate ii dau viata si stralucire.

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