This post has been inspired by a comment left in my last post. It's quite long but hopefully not too rambling....
'A tangent always leads somewhere... beyond the known and comfortable! Isn't that what making art is all about... ?... Exploring and growing! - Bruce Sherman
Bruce I couldn't agree more...
For years I didn't used black paint, after all so much better to mix complimentary colours to get harmonising greys in a painting. ....and black in watercolour...perish the thought! Then a very kind person gave me some paint. Nestling in a box of tube pigments were two tubes, Payne's grey and ivory black. I would pass by these two tubes always reaching for the other colours and staunchly ignoring them.
One day my curiosity got the better of me and I took out the Payne's grey. I think as much as anything the name had put me off as I equated it with 'dull' and 'boring'. What a wonderful surprise awaited..... hold the front page.... Payne's grey is actually a wonderful blue! I took a while to experiment and get better acquainted.
Ivory black is interesting, it's warm, it made me think of sepia. It's a fairly weak, single pigment colour and feels soft like willow charcoal. Mixed with yellows it makes some lovely greens and with blue makes for good 'English winter' (in other words greyish) sea colours.
|neutral tint experiment|
At Maggie's suggestion I tried another version of a moonlit sea just using neutral tint and water - no other colours and no gouache. What a disaster! As you can see...
I tried to blot out highlights in the moon and sky with not much success.... the pigment seems to be a stainer (due to the red in it?). So I resorted to scraping through with a scalpel... the khadi paper didn't take too well to that kind of treatment, it rebelled by fluffing up and refused to give me back my sparkle. This could be because I was getting pretty impatient by that time and the paper was still a little damp. In it's defense though one of the qualities I liked about it was it's absorbency. This experiment feels very hard, dark and oppressive - completely opposite to to what I am trying to achieve in my moonscapes which is a feeling of softness, light, and sparkle.
Not to be deterred I thought to myself that the best way to get to know a new colour is to go back to basics an make a colour chart. The pigments are mixed roughly half and half and I have used Payne's grey, ivory black and neutral tint so that the mixes can be compared side by side.
There were a few surprises for me at the end of this. The three colours that stand out for me in these mixes with neutral tint are when it is added to cadmium lemon pale, cobalt turquoise and quinacridone magenta. (I may need to do a separate chart and test sketch to try out the variables of mixing these colours..... another tangent for another day... ). Now that I felt better acquainted with neutral tint, it was time to have another go at the moonscape using it mixed with indigo and ultramarine violet as in the first experiment but without the gouache.
I still had the problem of the paint seeming to stain which made blotting and lifting out very difficult. Again I have used a scalpel to lift out some highlights.
I think I would need to spend quite a bit more time with neutral tint to gain experience in how to use it successfully. I'm not sure I like the red in it (I very rarely use red) preferring yellow/orange tones which maybe is why I prefer ivory black. It was interesting to see how the neutral tint made more of the violet. I think there is a lesson it this for me... when choosing to use a pre-made grey to darken colours I need to take into account the other pigments I'm going to use and which tone of grey will suit them best - to treat the grey as a colour in it's own right, rather than a darkener if you see what I mean.
In conclusion, I've really enjoyed taking some time to experiment and it has been a reminder that breaking 'the rules' every now and again can be a healthy way to explore new possibilities. The time spent on these test pieces will I think really help in the next couple of paintings that I have planned (even though they will be in acrylic)
**** EDIT Brands used;
Ivory black Daler Rowney, Neutral tint Daler Rowney, Payne's grey Winsor & Newton
**** Maggie Latham a much more experienced watercolourist has posted her take and a repeat of these experiments here her results are a lot different to mine and she raises some really interesting points. She has made the post a part of her Colour Talk Series which I would reccommend reading.