Monday Motivator: Tone Deeper Than Black

Monsieur P painting

“… indigo with terra sienna, Prussian blue with burnt sienna actually produce much deeper tones even than pure black. What I sometimes think when I hear people saying ?there is no black in nature? is — there doesn?t have to be any black in paint either.”

— Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo van Gogh. June 1884

Talking to another local artist about the differences and similarities between our paintings, one thing that came up was her use of black. Often strongly as one of the final layers on a painting; thinly glazed in places, quite opaque in others. This layer is not mixed with colours, it’s embracing black as a pure colour. It’s striking and dramatic.

I tend to work with a mixed black, and to invite ‘happy accidents’ by not being meticulous in mixing the colours together so that occasionally I’ve suddenly got a bit of blue (or red or green or whatever else is in there), emerging beneath my brush or knife.

It’s a choice of style and working method. Neither is better. Explore both, feel which you prefer; it may even be it’s not an either/or for you.

Art is Communication

Art is communication in some way, whether we want it to, plan for it to, or do not . Our thoughts, attitudes, emotional states while working, beliefs, and so on will impact our work. So even if we paint the same still-life as a bunch of other people, our own imprint will be on our image of it.”
Beth Peterson