Blending different shades of gray can be overwhelming. Today I want to talk about two classic colors that can unlock a plethora of grays for you: Payne's Gray and Davy's Gray. While these two colors may look similar, they have distinct differences that can affect the outcome of your painting.
Payne's Gray is a blue-gray color that is made by mixing ultramarine blue and black. It is named after William Payne (we talked about him last week), an 18th-century watercolorist who used this color extensively in his paintings. Payne's Gray is a versatile color that can be used to create a range of shades, from light to dark. It is often used for painting skies, shadows, fog and water.
Davy's Gray, on the other hand, is a gray color that is made by mixing black and white.
According to the Winsor & Newton website:
"Davy's Gray is named after Henry Davy, born in 1793 at The Poplars (today known as Birketts Farm) in Suffolk, East Anglia in England. Davy's father was a farmer, and after an initial spell as a grocer’s apprentice, Davy made what we would call today a ‘career change’ becoming an artist’s apprentice to the famous English watercolourist, marine and landscape painter John Sell Cotman (...)."
Davy's Gray is a cooler and more neutral gray than Payne's Gray (see. It is often used for painting rocks, buildings, and other architectural elements.
It's essential to understand their differences to achieve your desired effects in your painting. It's tricky. Payne's Gray is a warmer color that leans towards blue, while Davy's Gray is a cooler color that leans towards neutral. Depending on the subject matter of your painting, one color may be more suitable than the other.
When it comes to mixing colors, Payne's Gray can be used to darken other colors without making them too muddy (as long as there isn't too much warm red in them). It can also be used to create a range of grays when mixed with other colors. Davy's Gray, on the other hand, can be used to create a cooler gray when mixed with other colors. It is also useful for creating highlights and shadows in architectural elements.
When choosing between your Payne's Gray or Davy's Gray, it's important to consider the quality of the paint you are using. Cheaper paints may not have the same intensity or consistency as higher quality paints, which can affect the final outcome of your painting. Even among the professional or student level paints (student level being one above cheap paint and one below professional) there are different characteristics that depend on the brand or the style of painting the color was designed for. It's worth investing in quality paints because the cheaper ones often use less pigment and more filler which means less coverage or intensity per stroke. The filler can also affect other characteristics such as spreading or blending.
In addition to Payne's Gray and Davy's Gray, there are many other shades of gray available. Neutral Tint, for example, is often used to tone down other colors. It can be used for creating shadows and adding depth to your painting.
Another option is Sepia, a warm brown-gray color that is often used for painting antique or vintage subjects. Raw Umber is another grayish color (but mostly brown) that can be used for painting natural elements such as rocks, trees, and soil.
Understanding how to use the different grays can help you create more dynamic and interesting paintings.
When using Payne's Gray or Davy's Gray, it's important to consider the amount of water you use. Adding more water can make the colors appear lighter and more transparent while using less water can create a darker and more opaque color. It's also important to consider the paper you are using, as some papers may absorb more water and affect the intensity of the color.
In addition to understanding the differences between Payne's Gray and Davy's Gray, it's important to experiment with different techniques for applying the colors. For example, dry brushing can create a more textured and layered effect, while wet-on-wet techniques can create a more blended and seamless look.
Ultimately, choosing between Payne's Gray and Davy's Gray comes down to personal preference and the subject matter of your painting. By understanding the characteristics of each color and experimenting with different techniques, you can create beautiful works of art.