Why I Don't Paint with Black (And Why You Shouldn't Either)


If you've ever done research on art techniques, or taken classes, you've probably heard at some point that an aversion to using black is something that you should have.


Annoying, right?

Well, I'm on Team No-Black-Paint.


Or at least Team I-Don't-Use-Black-Paint-Very-Often, but that doesn't look as great on a T-shirt.


"But how can I create deep shadows without black"

"But I'm painting someone with black hair!"

"But my painting is greyscale! Don't I need to use black?"


I hear you. It sounds crazy at first, but it has made a world of difference in my art, not to mention it allows you the opportunity to do some fun paint mixing and add some extra  personality to your work.


"But how can I create deep shadows without black"

Paint mixing to the rescue! In almost all of my paintings, I replace my black paint (Mars, Ivory or Lamp) with a combination of Burnt Umber, Manganese Violet and Prussian Blue, the ratio of each changes depending on the overall mood or tone of the piece. These mixed together create an incredibly rich and dark paint, that when applied thickly and opaquely, looks very close to black, but are much more captivating.


"But I'm painting someone with black hair!"

Take a good close look at that black hair - is it truly black? Is it truly devoid of colour? In almost all cases I think you would find yourself saying that there is indeed colour present. And if you still aren't satisfied with the dark tone of the black hair at the end of using your non-black paint mixture, you could always add a glaze with a bit of Mars, Ivory or Lamp Black to boost the darkness.


"But my painting is greyscale! Don't I need to use black?"

Well, you may have found my one exception. If you are aiming for a truly greyscale painting, then you are bound to using black.


But short of that last example, I think you will find a huge benefit out of putting your tubes of black paint aside.


Here are a few reasons why (in case I haven't convinced you yet!)

- True black doesn't exist in nature (short of the complete absence of light)

- black doesn't have a relationship with other colours, because it is not a colour

- adding black to another tone to darken it will lower the chroma (the intensity or purity of a colour)


Now, despite the strong message here of "don't use black", this is ultimately a personal decision.

When used carefully, blacks can have a lovely effect that can add emphasis to the other tones in your painting.

And most black paint is not truly black after all.


Ivory Black has slightly brown undertones, Lamp Black leans toward the bluish spectrum, and Mars Black can have a lovely warm effect.


Ultimately, don't bind yourself to the rules set out by society.


What works for me may not work for you, we are all individuals with unique tastes, so go be your magical self use whatever paint you want!

Stay magical,


Want to know the materials I use to create my paintings?

Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Colour Paint - https://amzn.to/2GeXEu2
Gamblin Artist's Oil Colors - https://amzn.to/2WCEnZk

Mediums and other liquids
Winsor & Newton Liquin Original - https://amzn.to/2GmK87N
Mona Lisa Linseed Oil - https://amzn.to/2Tmh1F4
Mona Lisa Odorless Paint Thinner - https://amzn.to/2SfH0kk
Gamblin Gamvar - https://amzn.to/2D2IlRW
Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Size Adhesive - https://amzn.to/2GfEeVH
Gold Leaf (Imitation) - https://amzn.to/2GeWAWZ
Gold Leaf (Genuine) - https://amzn.to/2t1Hlst
Liquitex White Gesso - https://amzn.to/2MM0gAy

Filming Equipment for Videos
Canon Rebel T5i - https://amzn.to/2Ef1QZj
Tripod - https://amzn.to/2TUamlG
Lavalier Microphone (for voiceovers) - https://amzn.to/2IiArtj
Adobe Premiere Pro CC

* The above product links are affiliate links that allow me to make a small commission on each sale - every little bit helps!

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Danielle Trudeau creates paintings that walk the line between dreams and reality, infusing magic into every day life.

Wildlife often graces her canvases, brought to life with a spark of magic and oil paint.