Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No room for black on my palette!

Nope!  Lots of colors on my palette, but no black here.

Oh, yeah - and my palette is a little messy right now. I've had a very busy painting week and it shows!

But wait, I was talking about black - or rather the absense of black - on my palette, wasn't I?!  Hey - take a look -

There's all my happy little colors! 

Don't I ever need black, you ask?  Well, in a manner of speaking, sometimes I do.  I just finished a little stack of paintings and one of them was a painting of a 'black' dog.

Have you got a 'black' dog handy?  Take a close look.  (note that I did not insert a 'black-lip-dog' joke in here!)  Just how 'black' is your dog?  I rest my case.

See!  That's why there isn't any black on my palette.  Because I prefer to mix a chromatic black that I can change to suit my exact needs for each portion of each painting including the not-so-black dog paintings! 

Chromatic black - now doesn't that sound fancy *winks* - check it out!

Actually, mixing a chromatic black is simple.  Basically, you take a nice earth tone color, mix a little nice blue in there, and add just a smidge of a rich red.  Voila - chromatic black.  In my case, I used burnt sienna, ultramarine deep and alizarin crimson and, by changing the amount of each color, I can control the warmth or coolness of the black.  Because all of these are pure colors, both they and the chromatic black can be used in lovely glaze washes without turning to mud.

Cool, huh?!  I keep lots of notes like this in my little palette book.  Do you have a nifty little book where you keep your helpful notes?

Happy - and color filled - painting!


  1. I have several nifty books where I keep my notes. I too use chromatic black instead of premixed blacks that tend to be flat and dull. Great little post!

  2. I learned something, yea! I have never made chromatic black, I usually use Payne's Gray, now I will play with mixing black.

  3. YAY! I mix my "blacks", too. So much richer than just black!

  4. I agree, Graceful! And flat and dull is not what watercolors want to be ;-) I have lots of notes in my little book, too

    Marlene, I use a little Payne's Gray, too, but the neat thing about the chormatic black is that I can warm up the black tone a bit if I want. It's fun to use the Payne's Gray and then mix the earth tone and/or alizarin crimson in there just to 'spice it up' a bit ;-)

    Totally, Lee! After doing an entire painting with chromatic black, I am double sold! Fun and really rich colors with lots of sparkle.

  5. Hi Kathy,

    Thank you very much for showing us your colour palette.

    Just a quick question, which brands do you used?

    I see some show a 'H' which I assume to be Holbein, others 'MG' which I believe to M. Graham but what about the colours with a 'S'?

    Many thanks.



  6. Please ignore my earlier message I just saw what the initials stand for.

    I must be going blind. LOL

    Kind regards,


  7. Thanks, Rui! Well, it is a little hard to read in the picture. Those are the three brands of watercolor paint that I like the best.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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