View Full Version : silvery greys

04-30-2013, 12:06 AM
Hello Everyone....New to the forum and pretty new topainting. Began classes for the first time since high school in January. Have a wonderful instructor whose primarypalette in both watercolor and oil is Winsor & Newton Cobalt, Alizarin& Rose Madder Genuine. This week'sexercise is twofold. A portrait of ananimal and a diptych of animals. I chosemy pets in both cases, the diptych was easy, my 3 kitties. The portrait is of my silky terrier and I amhaving a very difficult time with the light wash layering technique of comingup with his silvery grey color. Anysuggestions.

I can't figure out the uploading, when I do, I will post the work in progress. Thanks everyone, looking forward to hearing from all of you

04-30-2013, 12:21 AM
Welcome, ChefCharlotte! I think you have to have a minimum number of posts before the uploader works, one of the mods will surely be along soon to clarify that.

Silvery greys turn out surprisingly well when you mix them from ultramarine blue and a dark brown... either burnt or raw umber work well. If you feel adventurous, wet the paper then place some of each, pure color and let them mingle without brushing them around too much. You'll get a lively gray with hints of pure color to keep it lively. Not sure whether that look is what you want, but might be worth trying on some scrap paper to see.

If your assignment is to build up thin layers, perhaps a wash of umber, let dry and come back with ultramarine to cool it into a silvery gray? Again might be worth a swatch or two and see how you like it.

Hopefully you sort out the uploader quickly, I would like to see your furry family!

04-30-2013, 12:32 AM
Thanks Cyntada: Unfortunately I am limited to the palette ofcobalt, alizarin and rose madder genuine. Once she feels I have a grasp on thelayering and mixing, I can expand. This is quite the challenge.

Trying to extract what I can from your advice, I wouldcreate a burnt umber by layering and then top with a light wash of thecobalt...? Yikes. I'm in over my head at the moment...

04-30-2013, 06:21 AM
Welcome to the watercolor forum. I don't see how you can get a gray with the colors you have. You have two reds and a blue, basically a purple palette. The best ways to make grey is to mix the three primaries (red, yellow, blue) in different strengths. Example. A blue and red of equal amounts (purple) with a little yellow added makes a lavender gray. Add more red and you have a more reddish gray, add less red and more yellow and you have a greenish gray. For watercolor, keep your mixes juicy like milk or cream consistency. In your case you will end up with a warm lavender or a cool lavender.

04-30-2013, 07:01 AM
Welcome to the forum Charlotte! Are you sure that you have a primary triad challenge? In order to mix your greys or neutrals, you're going to need a yellow.

And, as an emerging artist, I really hate to ask you this... but do you know what pigment numbers your alizarin and rose madder are? If your alizarin is PR83 and your rose madder genuine is NR9, then both of these colours are quite fugitive. That means that they'll both fade over a short period of time. You can find these pigment numbers on the side of your paint tube in very tiny lettering. When you've finished these classes, I would suggest that you not use these two colours anymore.

My "go to" grey for my students is a mixture of ultramarine blue + burnt sienna. But the three primaries will also produce a lovely grey. It's a little more challenging to get the ratios of each colour just right, but it can be done. You just need to find out what your yellow choice is.

04-30-2013, 07:41 AM
Given the palette you have to work with the best I can offer is to fall back on the comic book artists' trick of rendering blacks and greys wih blue. Selectively applied accents of blues can sometimes read to the eye as silver.

Otherwise try to get the values right and let the hues be "wrong".

04-30-2013, 10:39 AM
Thank you , thank you and I am a dunce. It is NOT Alizarin it IS Aureloin PY40, Rose Madder Genuine NR9 and Cobalt Blue P8 28. Thank you auto correct...

I am coming up with lavendars and roses, deeper blues and purples for shadoes, a decent black and a full strength black with the 3 mixed out of the tube no water. Just not getting his beautiful silver. I see this is something I can achieve with an expanded palette and will continue on as instructed.

04-30-2013, 10:40 AM
Expanded post....
Thank you, thank you and I am a dunce. It is NOT Alizarin it IS Aureolin PY40, Rose Madder Genuine NR9 and Cobalt Blue P8 28. Thank you Microsoft auto correct...
I am coming up with lavenders and roses, deeper blues and purples for shades, a decent black for recesses like ears and a full strength black with the 3 mixed out of the tube no water for nose and eyes. Just not getting his beautiful silver. I see this is something I can achieve with an expanded palette and will continue on as instructed because I think I have been successful with values and it is an interesting (and dare I say it, almost ok) rendering, just not what I wanted.
So excited to have this support when I need it. Thanks again!

04-30-2013, 12:04 PM
Charlotte, your Aureolin is also fugitive. Shame on your Instructor for encouraging you to buy and use it. It's going to fade and/or turn brown over time.

A better yellow would be hansa medium (PY97) or Azo Yellow (PY151). A substitution for your rose madder would be quinacridone rose (PV19) or quinacridone magenta (PR122). If you also have alizarin crimson (PR83) then the PV19 would be a good substitute or anthraquinone red (PR177).

You can get a beautiful, clear grey, but patience will be the key in finding the ratio of each colour in the mix.

Oh... and you're not a dunce! That person wouldn't have come here and asked for help! :)

04-30-2013, 09:01 PM
Thank you Char. Ihave made notes about your color recommendations and when Jerry's or Cheap Joeshas another sale I will look into them. Thanks again for the encouragement, once I figure out the uploadingfeature I'll post the WIP.

05-01-2013, 05:45 AM
Hi Charlotte,
Welcome to the Watercolor Forum. As you can see from the response here, we love to help newcomers to our medium. :D

To use the Uploader, resize your photo to a maximum of 600 pixels high x 800 pixels wide. Then open a thread and click on the icon at the top of the box that is yellow and looks like it has mountains in it.

When that opens, follow the directions that are in it and your image should appear in the window of your post. Leave a blank line space between any text you write and the image and you should be good to go.

If that doesn't work, send me a PM and I'll see what I can do. :D


05-01-2013, 09:02 AM
I'm anxious to see your WIP, Charlotte. Char has given you some good advice regarding your palette.