First let me say that I literally just wasted 10 minutes of my life trying to change the color of the word "blue" in the title to blue. Can't be done. Moving on. Disappointed but wiser.
How are the rest of you? Healthy? Safe and sound hunkered down?
Before I get emails asking if I'm ok, YES! We are all fine and nobody around here is black and blue physically. This post is about using blue to perk up your blacks. True, mentally I'm a little more tender than usual. My anxiety is largely out of control with this looming virus, which occasionally I imagine as some cloud lurking over cities from an M. Night Shyamalan movie. I'm adjusting and doing those things I know to help. But you're not here to read about my faulty brain. This is about color. Let's get to the good stuff.
For the longest time a design element that set my work apart was the use of strong darkest dark areas to create space and depth in my otherwise flat paintings. I often split a background into random geometric divisions and go for broke painting one of them a "darkest dark". While it reads black from a distance, up close there is more nuance. My favorite combination of color to arrive at a darkest dark is to combine Phthaylo Blue and Burnt Umber. You can also use any dark red and Phthaylo Green for a dark that leans purple.
Here are a few older works to show you what I mean about this division of space.
However, about a year ago I was working on a nighttime scene and the black was just so "black" and no matter what I did it felt oppressive. An artist friend of mine, Dar James, (check her out she's fabulous), suggested rubbing cobalt blue over top of the darks. And you know how all of the sudden the world shifts on it's axis and you think "Holy shittlestix, I know NOTHING!" Yeah. Something like that. I tried it and Shazam! The "black" perked up and the painting was rescued. And a love for the color cobalt was discovered.
Except a look around my house proved I've long been in love with the color cobalt, I'd just been overlooking it. I know. Sometimes the obvious is right in front of us we just aren't paying attention. Turns out I've got a fair sized collection of cobalt glazed pottery. Everything from delft children's tea sets to Talavera pottery from Mexico and everything in between.
Fast forward to today and I'm really enjoying using cobalt on everything, often over "black".
And that's it really. Often a painting isn't lost. It's just boring in terms of color choices. It probably just needs more layers or more nuance. Let me wrap this up and summarize.
First, if you're using black straight out of the tube, try mixing a darkest dark to add some nuance.
Second, if your paintings tend to lack depth or drama, put on your big girl or boy panties, take a risk and add an area of darkest dark. This can really lift an otherwise ho-hum painting.
Finally, if your darkest dark looks like a black hole in your artwork, add a little cobalt or light ultramarine as an accent. Just a line of light ultramarine along a dark edge will really set things off.
Tag me on IG or FB and let me see the befores and afters. I'm looking forward to seeing.
I'll see you soon. Oh. And before I forget, I invited Dar to share with us how she makes the world's best salad. And by "best salad" I mean literally, the best damned salad EVER. Not only is she a great business woman and a gifted artist, but she can turn a pile of greens into something akin to magic. Showoff. Look for her next best thing sometime in May. Meanwhile see what she's all about here.
See you soon.