View Full Version : White woes.

10-30-2001, 08:56 PM
I would sincerly like to pick the minds of the pros here. I read Milt's "color black" post and found some very respectable ideas to play around my head. The attitude I have (based on my clumsy handling) is quite fearful of the stuff. I make mud, and I am timidly approaching it but...
My crutch is white.
I start dark and slurp mounds of white to mix all of my real colors into and think I may be missing the boat.
I KNOW, but am not able to use the concept of purer color doing a lot of what I want the white to do. Intensify, lighten, brighten etc. BUT I still use white.
Not really sure where I am going here, but would like to hear prejudices, insights, discoveries or failures in the realm of white.
I want to use color more as color, so maybe if you guys talk, I will be better able to phrase my question...

10-31-2001, 12:46 AM
My preference is to use white sparingly in mixtures. Adding only just enough to do the job. Over dependence on it will often make your colors look chalky. Try to find other ways to lighten colors. Such as, adding a lighter tube color of the same hue, or family. Or using value or color contrast to get the affect. With practive you will find that very little white is really needed in most cases.

To avoid mud, use no more than two or three tube colors in any mixture. If your mixture needs more adjustment after using that number, then you've probably chosen the wrong colors. Try a different set. Again, with time you will more quickly and intuitively pick the right ones. You will find that using a palette knife to mix the colors on the palette will generally give a cleaner result.

IMO most of the trouble with lights comes from creating a too light overall key when beginning the painting. Lights need darks as a contrast to really appear light. Try to skew the tonality of the painting to the mid or lower end of the value range. That way you'll have plenty of leeway to make those lights sing.

Most of the problems you encounter with mixing will go away with time. I know you are a serious and prolific creator, so it shouldn't be too long before you are comfortable with it.

10-31-2001, 04:12 AM
David, that was an excellent reply...said everything I wanted to say. And I agree that value contrast is essential to give the effect of luminosity...if you don't have darks, even lightest, brightest colors (such as cadmium lemon) just won't have that luminous quality you're looking for.

I remember when I was beginning painting (only about 3 years ago) when I would make highlights seem brighter by only adding white. When I would highlight pine trees I would just add white, without changing the hue toward yellowish. Forget chalky, it looked downright snowy!

For really sunny highlights, I feel you really need some good, highly pigmented, pure, opaque colors in the yellow-orange area, such as cadmiums. I was considering getting nickel titanate yellow for just this. This is pale, very greenish yellow, only slightly greyer than cadmium lemon. But since I already have hansa yellow light, I suppose I could get a similar result with hansa yellow light plus a little bit of white. I don't like to get extra colors unless they're hard to mix from other colors.

Phyllis Rennie
11-06-2001, 08:45 PM
Hi DJ, I had the same problem for a long time. One statement that was made to me that I found helpful was--"you don't need a lighter color--you need a color with higher chroma." Don't know exactly how to explain that statement but it did help me to get rid of some of the fogginess in my paintings.