Discover Remarkable Darks in Art

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

Rich, luscious dark chocolate or a forkful of oozing blueberry pie; what makes these scrumptious foods catch your eye? Besides delectable, it is their bold, inky color.


When you're gazing at the beauty of your favorite painting, look closely at the dark shadows.


Painters who love color, seldom use black. Instead we'll mix rich, intense dark pigments. It's one reason our watercolors sing and another reason for you to enjoy art!




This concept isn't new. Think back to the masters. DaVinci, below:


4 tricks to mixing dark colors in watercolor



1. Avoid the color black: I find the trick to capturing that luminous richness is to avoid color mixing with black. Colors like Jet black and Mars black are a combination of many colors. I discovered that when I mix more than three colors on my palette the results tend to be muddy. So I avoid black since the manufactured color is already a mix of many colors.


2. I like to mix with pure one-color pigments. My favorite is Thalo green and Alizarin Crimson red. It is the perfect match for the deep shadows of an evergreen tree, and if I add more red, it is the perfect rich color to give raspberries depth. Avoid pre-mixed pigments: such as Cereleun Blue or Paynes Gray. Using these paints puts you one step closer to muddy darks.


3. Use dark pigments to make a dark color. Reach for your darkest colors on your palette to make your dark shadows glow! This include, but aren't limited to: Thalo violet, Quinacridone Violet, Viridian Green, and Winsor blue. I love the power of intense blues.


4. Make a chart. To become more familiar with the characteristics of the watercolor pigment, here is a helpful concept. Simply line up your dark pigments and make a grid as you mix. The next time you paint, use the chart as a guide to find the perfect dark shade for your composition. I think you’ll like the results of mixing your own colored pigments instead of reaching for the black tube of paint.


Learning the tricks to mixing dark colors in watercolor will allow your watercolors to sing!


Color mixing in watercolor. Use dark colors of color theory. Avoid black on your color palette.

Discover Remarkable Darks in Art and Enjoy!

Related article: Enjoy viewing art with or with an art education.