Home » Color Theory: Studying The World Of Color With Isabella Kung

Color Theory: Studying The World Of Color With Isabella Kung

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Step 9: When To Use Black (Or Not)


With all this talk about color theory, you might be wondering: where does black fit into all this? Well, its boldness and dulling tendencies means that black isn’t used very often in a color painting. However, it’s still needed to get certain colors, or to adjust a color’s brightness. As an example, Isabella tones down Viridian with a touch of Ivory Black to get a mint green color.

Should you decide to apply black to your painting, you can create it by mixing together very dark colors. Isabella mixes a very saturated Indigo, Vandyke Brown, and Alizarin Crimson to show how to do this. In contrast, Ivory Black is quite pigmented and tends to look flat. Isabella shows a side-by-side comparison, where the mixed black has much more depth, while the pure Ivory Black is very flat and can destroy the color harmony in a painting due to its black hole-like density.

Of course, all we’ve talked about so far are just suggestions to limit yourself when coloring to produce color harmony. The fastest way to learn is to try them for yourself, and see what colors best express the content of your painting. Hopefully, this demonstration provides an insight to the realm of colors, and helps you in all your future painting endeavours.