Mixing Rich Darks

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on 15 May 2009 8:22 AM

This week, I shared some advice on mixing rich and transparent darks with a couple of friends. This is something I've learned directly from painting with Richard Schmid. Don't know how many of you have heard of the Putney Painters - a small group of artists that paint along side of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik.

I can't even begin to say how many things I've learned about oil painting from them, but thought I'd share a tip here that I posted on my personal blog yesterday.


 Darks look deeper and richer when they are transparent and when they are warm rather than cool. 

So for my accent darks, I mix transparent Oxide Red (Rembrandt) with just a touch of Thalo green for a rich, almost black but warm and transparent color. Dark mixtures that use bluer tones - such as ultramarine blue are great for distant darks since blue/cooler tones don't appear as dark as warmer tones.

Darks in the painting below were painted with Thalo Green, Transparent Oxide Red and a touch of Alizarin Crimson.  "Daughter" 6x8, Oil on Linen. - this was painted from life during a Putney Painter session.

www.loriwords.com

 

 

 

 

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on 15 May 2009 10:37 PM

Beautiful painting Lori! I love all of the simple - yet effective - brushstrokes; and of course those darks... just great!

-Daniel

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j.b2 wrote
on 17 May 2009 2:19 PM

Transparent and warm is the key and how I was taught. I have found that transparent red oxide (Rembrandt brand) has many uses. I wouldn't paint without the stuff.

Love the painting!!!

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on 18 May 2009 6:00 AM

Thought you folks might like to see where I learn stuff - Richard's painting in progress is on the right hand side of this photo, and I'm standing in the very back behind the counter (blonde hair) Rosemary Ladd - terrific artist - is just to my right.

www.loriwords.com

 

 

 

 

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on 18 May 2009 6:15 AM

OK, so Rosemary is to "my" left, and she's on the right of me in the photo... Other memebers: Kathy Anderson, Dennis Sheehan, Katie Swatland, Gretchen Schmid... etc

 

www.loriwords.com

 

 

 

 

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jlward wrote
on 1 Oct 2009 10:36 AM

Hey Lori,

Thanks for the tip.  I was familiar with Alizarin Crimson and Pthalo Green, but I've never used Transparent Red Oxide.  I'll have to pick some up.  What are some other good mixes that you or others can recommend?

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on 1 Oct 2009 10:43 AM

Try Dioxazine Purple.  Mix it with any other color, especially transparent colors .. you'll be amazed at the richness.  A friend introduced me to it a couple of years ago and it's now always on my palette - for both studio work or plein air. 

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on 1 Oct 2009 10:55 AM

Jlward,

Both Nancy Guzik and Richard Schmid use either Transparent Oxide Red or Transparent Oxide Brown to make rich, transparent darks. Rembrandt makes these colors. The more transparent a dark is - the more air it shows. That means that if these darks are scumbled on with the canvas showing through a bit, they'll look even darker. As soon as a color goes opaque, it picks up light and loses it's ability to look dark.

You can make these transparent colors move toward either the cool or warm by adding ultramarine blue, or Pthalo green for cooler, and alizarin crimson for warmer. Richard points out (and I agree) that the darkest darks are always "hot"... meaning they lean towards red.

If I didn't say it above (don't have time to go back and read). There should be one "darkest dark" and one "lightest light" in a painting. If you put darks with the same value all over the canvas, you'll end up with what looks like polka dots - the viewer's eye won't know where to start or finish.

 

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j.b2 wrote
on 2 Oct 2009 4:49 PM

Love Transparent red oxide.

It solves a lot of problems...

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on 5 Oct 2009 7:39 PM

Chris, I'd like to try this but I suspect Dioxazine Purple can be quite different depending on the brand of paint.  What brand of paint do you use??

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on 5 Oct 2009 7:52 PM

Hi Kathryn,

I just checked my paintbox as I use a number of brands.  The Dioxazine Purple I am now using is by Grumbacher.  Winsor and Newton have Winsor Violet which they also refer to as dioxazine so that may be an equivalent.

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on 5 Oct 2009 7:52 PM

What great comments!!  Thank you so much for sharing these principles to ponder.  I look forward to seeing more of your insights.

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MyTwoDogs wrote
on 27 Feb 2013 8:58 PM

Thanks for the great tips Lori. I am taking Jean Chambers' workshop this week at Scottsdale Artists' School and she has introduced me to Transparent Red Oxide and Transparent Yellow Oxide. I love they way TRO  looks when mixed with Veridian and used in the backgrounds. Jean is a wonderful teacher.

 

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