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Realism Techniques 5

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

My Black Sauce

In order to add richness, subtlety and depth to the darkest areas of my paitnings, I avoid the use of the color black entirely (i.e. Ivory Black, Lamp Black, etc.), opting instead for my own dark color blend.

I’ve found through my experience that the mixture of several dark colors creates a new color approaching the solidity of true black when applied in enough thick layers, yet yielding enough translucency in thinner applications to open up a much wider range of subtle color variation. This flexibility and translucency in turn creates the possibility of much more realistic shadows and a truly convincing “absence of light” that the viewer can still see into.

Mixing up my special black sauce at the start of a new painting. This recipe consisted of Ultramarine, Burnt Umber, Veridian, and Alizarin.

I use a simple demonstration during my instructional seminars to prove the necessity of what I call “translucent shadows.” I find a well-lit patch of space in the room and hold an opaque object in front of my o