Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When is white not white and black not black?

Have you ever looked closely at white?  or at black?  Trust me.  Whatever white or black object or critter that you are looking at is not going to look like a blob of white paint or a blob of black paint.  Ever. Not ever.

Proof?  You want proof? 

Okay... remember Sharla's lovely little kitty, Angel?  (You can see pictures of her on Sharla's very fun blog, Beaded Tail.)  Angel has a lot of color, but her face, neck and front paws have a lot of white, too.  Here is a little work in progress photo of the painting I am doing of Angel.

Angel - watercolor - work in progress
Isn't she precious?!

Without some shading, she is not going to have a lot of definition on her cute paws not to mention her furry nice little face.  Using gray will leave a very flat and dull appearance (I'm sure that Angel would not approve of that!), so I am using various shades of blue.  For the very dark shadows, I will throw in a dash of paynes gray.  That's right... I am not using black for those dark areas.

So what about the painting of Sharla's cute little Tortie, Isabella?  (You can see her on Sharla's blog, too.)  What am I using to create all her "black" fur?

Isabella - watercolor - work in progress

Well, if you look really closely at "black" fur, you will see that it is usually a very dark brown.  Another problem with black paint straight out of the tube is that is has a dull appearance.  What I am doing here is creating a Chromatic Black.  If you want to know how to mix Chromatic Black, check out my blog post, "No room for black on my palette!"  All the directions are there and they can be modified for any painting medium.

For Isabella's little painting, I am changing the chromatic black mixture in order to lighten or darken an area where there is more or less light.  For the very dark details, I mix in a little paynes gray into the chromatic black.

Isabella - watercolor - work in progress
Isabella has caught up to Sadie, now.   You can see Sadie's painting in my blog post, "Oh, yay!  Look what's happening in my studio!"  After I get a little bit more done on Angel's painting, I will lay in the background colors for all of these paintings.

That's what you will get to see next time!  ...and then you will find out the only time I use white paint *winks*

Happy creating!


  1. They are beautiful Kathy! I bet she will love the portraits!

  2. They look beautiful Kathy! Angel has a lot of colors on her and you are capturing them perfectly! And I know that Torties are very hard to paint but you are doing a great job on Isabella! I can't wait to see them in person!

  3. These look amazing! I have always found shading the hardest part of drawing and painting! You've got it down to a science!

  4. Thank you, Pam! I am having a lot of fun painting these!

    Thank you, Sharla!!! I am really enjoying painting all three of your furries! Yes, Torties are challenging, but it's fun to look for all those "extra" colors and bring them to life.

    Thank you, memories! Getting the shading right is tough and it does make all the difference to your artwork.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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