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Painting a Crow

This is a realistic painting of a handsome black Crow.

How do we paint the colour black?

I remember reading somewhere many years ago that there was no such thing as the colour black, just the absence of colour where all light had been absorbed. For that reason, black would “contain” all colours, and modern painters were warned not to use Lamp Black or Ivory Black in their paintings as they were dull and lifeless tube colours. Paynes Grey became more acceptable, as it is a blend of Black and Indigo Blue.

Although this Crow appears to be black, he is better portrayed if other colours are included in his plumage. So, my Crow was painted with four colours, namely Paynes Grey, Indigo Blue, Winsor Violet and Olive Green. By mixing those together you can achieve a richer black than you get if you just use black from a tube.

I painted the bird in many layers, starting by wetting the paper with a thin layer of water and gradually building up wet in wet. Then, after allowing the painting to dry, I worked on more glazes of colour until the desired intensity of blackness was reached.

The painting is finished off by lifting out some light areas in the tail, the beak and the eye.