This excerpt from Maggie Price’s Painting Sunlight and Shadow With Pastels talks about using blacks in paintings.
Using Dark Blacks
The value of black or close-to-black colors in full shadow is usually the darkest value in a painting. Still, adding hints of colors similar in value keeps these areas from being “black holes” in your painting. A few areas of really dark black are sometimes appropriate though. When I paint rocks, I always look for places to use a rich, unadulterated black. I call these my “spider holes”—places so dark and deep you would never want to reach into them. no light reaches into the depths of spider holes, so they can be painted totally black. Just don’t put in too many!
Painting Black Objects That Fall in Shadow
Although this dark rock in deep shadow is almost black, there are still subtle hints of color to better define the rock’s form.
Look to the Edges
When painting black objects, pay special attention to the edge between the shift from sunlight to shadow. While angular objects may reflect that change as a hard line, rounded surfaces may need to be painted with halftones.
Sun Sculpted – Colette Odya Smith
Pastel on Rising 4-ply museum board – 20″ × 20″ (51cm × 51cm)
Want to learn more?
- Painting From Photos: Pastels With Maggie Price (DVD)
- Painting With Pastels, by Maggie Price
- Pastel Journal (magazine subscription)