HOW TO: Mix your own black paint

Going back through my old art journals, I’ve been finding all sorts of interesting notes scattered throughout the pages. Figured here would be a great place to record some of these things. They mostly document my own journey as a little first-year art student to now, all-grown-up graduate. There’s highs, lows, triumphs and tribulations – what’s not to love? See how I got to where I am — what to do, and also what not to do! Whoops!


Mixing your own black paint

I mixed up the palette easy enough, but it did come out a lot bluer than intended, I think partially because of the cheaper paints I was practising with, and partly because of the poor lighting. USE MORE YELLOW NEXT TIME.

However, one consistency with the quality paints was I found a cooler, darker blue made all the difference. In this instance, I didn’t have a cheap yellow available, but I did have a kind of ochre colour. This may have actually helped darken it more than it might have otherwise.

This is the first acrylic painting I’ve done in a long time, so… here goes!

That’s his thumb
You can see I’ve blotted out the eye a bit here to correct some mistakes
Still his thumb >_>
A mostly-finished portrait of Robert Downey Jr 🙂

TIME SPENT: approx. 3 hours

What I’ve learned:

  • LAYERING IS KEY!!!!!! Don’t just jump into the detail.
  • Start messy and big. Slap on a light coat.
  • Don’t mix so much paint – it just goes to waste
  • Add a little more yellow for a more neutral grey tone
  • White dulls as it dries, but black looks darker. Had to layer white a fair bit more to get things brighter
  • Painting this way is brilliant for fixing mistakes! Originally had his face entirely out of whack, just had to wait until he dried a bit and painted over those snafus
  • Adding a smidge more water while painting helps colour flow, but not too much or it’s too watery and thin
  • Keep brushstrokes quick and messy for a more painterly effect, also helps prevent getting bogged down in tight details which (I think) makes for a more lively portrait
Acrylic on canvas, 2014.