Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Feather, Beetle and Skull: painting blacks without black

From left: feather of a Tawny Frogmouth, Podargus strigoides; Rhinoceros Beetle, Xylotrupes ulysses; skull of a Pied Butcherbird, Cracticus nigrogularis.


This small painting is a technical exploration on how to reach the darkest darks without using any black-containing pigment - no black, neutral tint, Payne's grey, seppia or indigo. A bit daunting considering that neutrals have always been my favourite and most used colours from the beginning. Yet I can now say that chromatic greys offer a neverending, moody, subtle and beautiful alternative to the black pigments. Colours used: Perylene Maroon, Phthalo Green, Prussian Blue, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine Blue, Titanium (opaque) White for the very last few details on the beetle.


20 comments:

  1. A lot of nice subtleties in the color of the beetle.

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  2. I like it a lot--and thanks for including the color list (had never heard of Perylene Maroon).

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    1. I also 'discovered' Perylene Maroon just lately and fell in love immediately... it is a very intense and rich dark red slightly dull and amazing for mixing darks.

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  3. exquisite matteo ..perylene maroon is a beautiful with greens and blues

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  4. The beetle is fantastic! I love to watch these oddly shaped creatures when they show up on our deck. Their body form is amazing.

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  5. Really wonderful work! Love those dark colours.

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  6. Hi Matteo, I was really interested to read about your experiments on mixing 'black' without black pigment. I always try to stick with the principle and made a number of 'black' shade cards to see how far I could go with it. Perylene Maroon is one of my favourites for its covering qualities. Indanthrene Blue is also a good one as I find it stronget than Prussian but still with great colour. Your sketches are exquisite, especially that beetle. There is so much more colour there, even though we think of it as black.

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    1. Thank you for the comment and for mentioning Indanthrene Blue, I haven't tried it yet..
      Best whishes

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  7. Wonderful work and very beautiful details. Love it.
    Lovely greet
    Marja

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  8. This is a such a beautiful and useful post. I wish I could see the three upclose!

    p.

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  9. This is SO beautiful... were they done in life size?

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    1. Thank you very much! Yes they're done in life size.

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    2. That is very lovely. I will try out your beautiful challenge. Among other things this post got me thinking about the relative size of things in nature, and I guess the weight also. All three probably weigh very little. The way you are able to give things this fealing and do them in life size is so delicate!
      I have never seen the rhinocerous beetle (alive) :(, I know that dried out it I would think it could weigh just as much as a medium-heavy feather; But what could be the order weight between the tree?

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    3. The lightest is the feather, the scull and the beetle are very similar but I rekon the beetle is the heaviest.

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  10. Your artwork is exceptional Matteo - the detail is incredible, so lifelike.

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  11. Very good all his paintings, matteo!

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  12. Beautiful,sensitive work!

    I'm having problems signing out as a follower,the process seems to be stuck.I'll come back to it later today.

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  13. Great studies with superb detail as usual, Matteo! I recently found a beetle looking similar to the one you painted as well, but with longer horns.

    PS. thanks a lot for informing me about the Spanish magazine. You read it even before I did lol

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  14. Thank you everybody! Your comments are always soo nice, I'm lucky to have such followers!

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