How to handle white areas

This topic contains 11 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Susan Cuss 1 year, 7 months ago.

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  • #132850
     MMcBuck 
    Participant
    @mmcbuck

    I painted a dog, which was white, but did have a few areas of darker fur. My idea was to use paynes gray and just put brush strokes.

    It’s like reading the directions on how to put something together, after you did it on your own and realized there was an issue.

    So, now I’m asking how you all handle whites. Whites in beards, hair, fur, etc.

    Thanks in advance, I know you all will have so many great answers.

    Sorry, somehow this posted twice. Can’t find where to delete one here.

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  MMcBuck.
    #132851
     MMcBuck 
    Participant
    @mmcbuck

    I painted a dog, which was white, but did have a few areas of darker fur. My idea was to use paynes gray and just put brush strokes.

    It’s like reading the directions on how to put something together, after you did it on your own and realized there was an issue.

    So, now I’m asking how you all handle whites. Whites in beards, hair, fur, etc.

    Thanks in advance, I know you all will have so many great answers.

    #132857
     Julia Proulx 
    Participant
    @julia-proulx

    Thanks for the question, as I am looking for the same answers. I love your dog’s eyes and he/she looks wonderfully textured.

    #132864
     Sandra Strait 
    Participant
    @sandra-strait

    White reflects the colors around it, and you’ll never see a truly pure white for that reason.  All the colors of the subject and the background are therefore reflected in the whites.

    What you need to do is really look at the white areas and see the color, rather than believing what you know.  We’re taught that white is an absence of color and tend to ignore the fact that it isn’t.  The color is usually very pale – a tint, so if you have a blue background, you will see a very pale tinge of blue in the white.  If there are other colors around, say red flowers, the blue might turn into a purple tinge in some areas, or you might have distinct areas of blue and red tinges.

    In the painting below, my Siamese cat has two local colors – white with lavender-ish points. I reserved the white of the paper for the highlights and used the local color of the points (sort of a lavender) for the shadows.

    Note how little of the white of the paper that I used.  The amount of white changes according to the lighting you are trying to portray.

    I thinned my lavender mix with water to vary how dark it was.  In the darker shadowed areas, I used the reflected color of the background.

    Using local and reflected colors can get very complex, and it’s well worth studying, but there is an easier method.  You can make executive decisions, and simply choose the color that you want in your whites rather than depending on the real thing.

    I’m showing one of my fineliner pen drawings here because I think it shows what I’m talking about more clearly than any my watercolors.

    I felt the local color – ‘liver’ brown – of this Springer Spaniel would make for an ugly white.  So I chose to put him on a blue blanket, and used two shades of blue for my tints.  For the darkest shadows, I simply used the black pen.  Black is trickier for watercolor.  If I had painted this, I would have used Payne’s Gray in a pinch, or mixed blue and brown to get an almost black.

    If you weren’t showing any background except a shadow, you would want your shadow to be a darker version of the colors in your white.

     

    Clear as mud? I hoped I’ve helped somewhat.

    #132866
     Sandra Strait 
    Participant
    @sandra-strait

    Oh, and I love your dog! You chose local color for your whites. Since it was all gray/blue you have painted a monochromatic painting, which is very cool.  You didn’t show a background but if you had wanted more color, you could have chosen a background color, and had it reflected in the shadows – sort of an implied background.

    #132999
     Anonymous

    Not really skilled at this yet, but one tip I have picked up is to use a piece of card/thickish paper. Make a hole with a hole punch. Examine your photo through the hole. You now have a way to compare the local colour with white, without being distracted by the surrounding colours which can influence perception.

    #133000
     Sandra Strait 
    Participant
    @sandra-strait

    Good tip, Rod!

    #133030
     Anonymous

     

    #133048
     Kate Powell 
    Participant
    @kate-powell

    Following, so far good suggestions.  I so rarely paint with white!

    (I asked to have your other post taken down.)

    #133068
     MMcBuck 
    Participant
    @mmcbuck

    Thanks so much to you all! I knew there was an answer! Plus we all got to enjoy your work Sandra.

    #133072
     Sandra Strait 
    Participant
    @sandra-strait

    I just hoped I helped rather than making it seem more complex than it is.

    #133517
     Susan Cuss 
    Participant
    @susan-cuss-1

    Wonderful and clear explanation (and art!!) Sandra! Thank you.

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