More paintings are ruined because of too much white paint than any other reason. You composition can be great, but if your color is cold and chalky the painting will look sickly. Unfortunately most beginners cannot understand the problem. You want light color you add white, right? Not so fast!
Today I'm going to be show you some color mixing and more importantly, how to keep white paint out of your painting for as long as possible to get rich, deep color. Let's have a closer look.
Watch the demo video:
Now, I've said in the past that I like to keep white paint out for as long as possible in a painting. A lot of artists have been asking me how I do this and they don't quite understand what I mean by this. So in this lesson, I'm going to show you some basic color mixing in a quick little demonstration to illustrate what I mean by keeping white paint out for as long as possible.
The real reason I do this is because I like to start with color. The rich colors that give a painting vibrancy, especially in shadows and in some middle value colors, you don't need any white paint.
So the white paint comes in a little later for strong, opaque light color.
What is the problem with white paint? Well, there's no real problem inherently with white paint. It's just how you use it. White paint is, by its very nature, a cold and opaque color. Titanium white makes a dramatic difference to your colors.
So if you are going for a rich, deep, transparent color, particularly in your shadows and you put in too much white paint, or sometimes any white paint, and it completely throws out those values and color temperature. So you've got to know how to use white and when to bring it in.
Another question is, what is transparent color? Now I'll show you in the demonstration as I go along. But all that really means is that the color has a sense of depth to it. It also means that if it is applied very thin, you can see colors coming through or colours beneath will influence the look of that paint that you are applying. Sometimes it's the canvas that shows through or a colour below it.
But very often the real benefit is when you're painting darks or shadows and they provide almost a luminous depth and you can kind of see colors in there, just like in real life shadows. So you can really push that and experiment with it and get beautiful effects. Now let's go through this little demo and I'll explain along the way my basic process and see if you can try this out for yourself.
The Big Idea
As you can see from the demonstration the idea is to get rich color through the use of transparent color. That means not making the color very opaque with white paint. White paint is great for adjusting value, but terrible for rich vibrant color. It is a compromise when we resort to white. We get a lighter value, but sacrifice some richness of color. So use white carefully and sparingly.
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