If a recipe is calling for sugar...and you instead use salt, flour...but you use oatmeal, well...then you will have a far different product and judgment on the recipe thereafter is not fair.
Black is a legitimate recipe or ingredient to a palette strategy for artists whose ends in mind would be served best by black. However, we have to becareful to sum all painters up as being "real" painters...
John Singer Sargent was without question a master painter. He used black quite masterfully with his portraits. He was friends with many of the Impressionists that did not use black. At times painted with some of them.
Sargent also used "China white" with his watercolors which would put him at odds with watercolor purists, and rarely does his name come up among watercolors as being a master, but certainly Singer Sargent's paintings of Venice, rivers, landscapes, sculpture fountains, Arab nomads and so forth are some of the finest watercolors ever produced.
But just as important is THAT working order that one will come upon that will fuel, energy, direct, and develop one's painting direction.
Relatively speaking near any color scheme works so long as the values are right, (something Emile A. Gruppe himself pointed out); and the artist is free to create their own atmosphere within the confines of the canvas that will work itself out in that relative way.
Now having said that...I am often suggesting and making a point against the use of black.
Because...black is salt, when my recipe calls for sugar.
If artists ask me, or ask of anyone an opinion...I believe black is very difficult to pull off, Sargent an exception. Pulling it off means that the painting when completed goes beyond benign realism but also possesses a believable REAL'ness.
My recipe...for my manner of working (subjective...thus need not apply to all artists, all art...) is that many artists work in keeping to a realism that photographs suggest. After all many artists work from photographs.
We get away with it in our culture because moderns have been enculturated or shall we say bombarded since birth with images. Magazine pictures, billboards, television, movies...everywhere. We have come to accept the photo as telling truth...frozen time.
However...if one's recipe is to paint and project the sense of REAL'ness, then one seeks their work to feel as light does witnessing and seeing it directly.
A thru the lens shuttering system of the camera is all geared to favor the light, push shadows to a colorless flat lifeless area. In fact, even photos in art books of our favorite painters lie to us, for they never do justice to the actual work seen in the museum. More so then with nature.
I painted with black on my palette the first 17 years of my artist's career, working instudio. It wasn't until around 1995 when I first ventured to take a makeshift homemade easel outdoors to paint from nature that I observed that black would no longer represent the truth of what I was seeing.
Understand though that would apply only if the relative truth of instudio works was no longer the recipe and direction for me to go.
Outdoors, a shadow was not the lifeless colorless darks of a photograph, but an opportunity for indirect atmospheric light and bounced reflected light to demonstrate their presence. A photograph reference does not reveal such. The only time I really saw totally black, painting outdoors was painting nocturnals with a light on the bill of my ballcap but even then, I saw color in the blacks as part of the equation.
One winter, about 3am...with a moon...about 8 degrees below zero. Eerie greens in the darks. Still not perfectly black.
I have tried using black outdoors introducing color into it...but something about the black pigment killing the color and not looking nor feeling right. In other words, unlike Sargent, I've not learned to use black right.
What I will submit...is that I don't believe 99% of artists have learned to use black right either. It is like the kiss of death. That is...if REAL'ness as a necessary ingredient to support real'ism.
A painting possesses REAL'ness for me if standing before it I can allow myself to fall captive to the painting for just a moment and FEEL as though I could be standing there. I can feel the light, imagine the breeze or winds, and so forth.
Color is one of those things that projects that feeling for me, and for the recipe that projects REAL'ness rightly for ME...I find the use of black causes artist's work to feel more like representing a photograph than it does nature.
It is difficult in the passion of our discussions, wearing our emotions on our sleeves as artists often do...to not well explain one's opinion...just as we do not necessarily read a thing said rightly. I will insist black is not good to have on the palette...but that will be in speaking with vested interest for why my paintings turn out as they do and those paintings of others I most enjoy.
This does not mean I am not capable of seeing the art in the art of those that do use black. They just lack the feeling of convincing REAL'ness for the recipe I incline to. If you love using it...by all means do.
To show I am open minded about this...this past year, I did a few indoor larger waterfall oils and used black. The intent I was after allowed for black in the recipe. The paintings fail to deliver the sense of REAL'ness my other paintings have, but they are yet strong works of art invoking something else in the viewer making them worthwhile; which was an interesting experiment for me. Yet...when I returned to paint outdoors...knowing what I would experience outdoors...I left the black home.