25 March 2012

When white isn't white.

One of the most difficult things for me to come to grips with was how to paint a white object and still give it form. Like many beginner artists I thought a white object had to be just that "white". I have slowly realised, and learnt to see, that even white objects have a variety of colours in them. It is these colours which help define and emphasise the form of the object, help a cup look round or a face have shadow.

In this old pen and watercolour piece of some goats you can see that I added some cross hatching to the white areas for shading but had no idea of how to use colour.


From there I progressed to doing negative painting and a small amount of shading in grey, as in this duckling painting...

I was still not happy with the results. There had to be more than just grey for shadows. I began to research  how other artists tackle this problem, including following some wonderful online "classes" at WetCanvas. I finally started to "see" colour in the white. There is a whole rainbow of colour in there at times. Hopefully the following paintings demonstrate this (to varying degrees of success still) and help you to see the colour.





Painting a black object has similar issues. I was watching a crow on the roof just a couple of days ago and saw that black too is not always all black. There was a lot of highlights and light areas where the sun was shining on his feathers and lots of hints of other colours in there too. I guess this is a whole other project to pursue, especially as I have two black cats at home I want to paint successfully one day.

Then again remember that not all paintings and drawings have to be done in realistic colour, just have some fun with it.

4 comments:

  1. Oh,yeah, the old white and black problems. LOL YOu've done a great job with your practice on white objects. I don't always "see" colors in white, but I always try to put them in anyway. It certainly makes a better looking painting. I always make my own black, sometimes using blues and browns, sometimes using red and green. And yes, there are always highlights. Your black cats should give you lots of practice.

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting, and such nice comments too :) Yes I keep trying different combinations to make my own black, still looking for the best way to use them as well. I still remember from my first watercolour class over 20 years ago that you never use white or black paint. It stuck. And I am still finding ways around it. LOL.

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  2. Jacqui - You do well with showing "white." I especially like the flower. Negative painting comes in handy as well as "seeing" all the colors in the whites. Someone just sent me a link to what looks like an easy sketchbook to make. I'll have to send the link to you, or post it on WetCanvas later.

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    1. Thank you Joan. I actually find negative painting hard to do. I'm glad you like the flower, that took me ages to do and is half sheet size. I look forward to seeing the sketchbook link, thanks for thinking of me.

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