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Black: The Queen of All Colors Excerpt

Black: The Queen of All Colors


oil painting of a woman at a piano by Renoir

“I’ve been 40 years discovering that

the queen of all colors was black.”

                                                                    
                                              - Pierre-Auguste Renoir

   Blacks are perhaps one of the most misunderstood group of colors used by painters today. Some painters don’t use them—others only use them in a nearly pure form, as when painting something which is itself black. Those who know the powerful uses of black and regularly use it in their paintings tend to be either classically trained in painting or advanced self-learners. Whether you are a representational artist, seeking to explore the chiaroscuro effects of a subject or an artist working in pure, abstract colors, the mission is the same—how to know which black to use to get the effect wanted.

   We never received much information in our schooling about this group of marvelous colors, perhaps because we have grown up in an age of color variety and availability unknown to previous generations, or perhaps because our instructors themselves did not know. When we examine the paintings of bygone masters like Goya, Velasquez, Sargent and Zorn, we notice that they had very limited palettes and black featured as a major color. Some of this limiting was because of the lack of a broad selection of reliable colors from which to choose, and some was by choice. Either way, they were able to create vibrant worlds of color deep with the illusion of space and light, and they achieved this in large part by understanding the nuances of black mixed with every other color on their palettes. While we are on the subject, be sure to read our article on mixing beautiful greens from black in: Secrets of the Old Masters.

Join us as we unravel the mystery for you in this in-depth and informative examination of 5 popular black oil pigments. Illustrated charts included.

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About Us
Photograph of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty in Glacier National Park
We are artists, authors and teachers with over 35 years of experience in painting the world's beautiful places. We created The Artist's Road in order to share our knowledge and experiences with you, and create a community of like-minded individuals.  You can learn more about us and see our original paintings by clicking on the links below.
About Ann
     About John
 Hulsey Trusty Studios

We are also regular contributors to the Plein Air blog at Artist Daily.

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