|Cabbage leaf on black (a work in progress). The right side of the leaf will disappear by the way - they'll be no white on that side by the time I am finished...|
Friday, 20 February 2015
50 Shades of Black
Forget the 50 shades of grey - no grey here, just 50 shades of black. Today we go black. It is the point of no return. I might destroy what is actually turning out to be a rather good painting through this process, but it has to be done. The leaf disappears into the darkness and so the darkness needs to be put in. End of.
So this morning I tiptoed into the studio (my legs hurt after too much gardening yesterday) and started painting the lightest bits. It felt a bit contradictory doing this, but I already had a gut feeling that I might be turning to the dark side later on in the day and I knew that once I had turned, I wouldn't be able to do the light tones in those same 10 hours - my eyes change. I also often find that lighter bits are easier to do at the beginning of the day - there is something about the optimism of mornings.
After lunch I had a lovely walk in the countryside. It's been very warm here in Granada over the past couple of days (nights are blooming freezing though) and everything is bursting with life. The Almond blossom has just come out, the Broad Beans are sprouting in the fields and there is a stunning bank of Speedwell in full bloom. It's gorgeous, so I took my time.
When I eventually returned home I got into the painting straight away. Over the past week I have been mulling over which shade of black to use for his particular piece. I originally wanted to do a more cerise-violet black to complement the green, then a bluey black to create a sense of depth. In the end I went with green - quelle surprise! I haven't used any black pigment in this painting - it's all just a case of mixing up the colours that I am already using in the leaf. French Ultramarine, New Gamboge, Permanent Magenta, Phtalo Blue, Permanent Rose, Hookers Green, Permanent Sap Green are all in there somewhere. I rarely use ready mixed greens, but as this piece needs so much of the stuff, and because I want to keep a sense of consistency, I went for these two. Needless to say, this green-black still isn't green black... it changes from blue, to violet to green as my mood changes. This is one of the joys to be had when mixing your own blacks - you can achieve such an amazing range of hues.
Anyway - hot tip for you guys! If you want to use up your watercolour paints at a rate of knots, and are feeling particularly flush, then I can recommend this endeavour wholeheartedly! Likewise, if you want to mess up your watercolour half pans with loads of dirty colours, I can also recommend turning to the dark side. My watercolour set looks utterly trashed. This is mainly my fault because I am trying to use very, very little water - even less than when painting on vellum - to try to prevent my paper from cockling. So far it is working, but it means I am creating a right mess on the pallet as I am never washing my brush. I am also being overly stingy on paints (can you blame me when so much is going on the paper?!). I hate putting paint in the water, it just seems such a waste, not to mention the fact that it muddies the water incredibly quickly.