Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Seven!


Black objects! Now, there’s a challenge for you and, if that isn’t enough, look at all of those reflections.

My demonstration dealt with two main things. First of all, how do you make black when there is no black in your palette? I showed two combinations that work very well. The first is a balance of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna. Ultramarine Blue can be substituted for Cobalt Blue. The second is a mix of Phthalo Green and Rose Madder Quinacridone (almost any cool red will work). I suggested that the students try both on a study sheet and see which they preferred. I think it’s best and more consistent to stick with one mixture of black in a painting. In addition to that, it’s important to keep the darkest values fluid and transparent. A thick buildup of paint, as in an acrylic or gouache, will be opaque and kill luminosity.

We also touched on sharp or crisp edge reflections. These can be painted as shapes and allowed to dry before adding the colour around them. Note that the lightest area of the reflection is darker than the light on the actual object. Go ahead. Read that again. Now, you’ll see that the light on the actual orange is much lighter, and thinner, than the light in the reflection.

We didn’t discuss soft edge reflections. They’re harder to control as wet must touch wet to achieve a soft edge. Undaunted, many of the students went ahead and created some successful soft edge reflections in their paintings.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

Everyone seemed to be very engaged in the challenge of mixing and applying blacks. Obtaining different values and maintaining a consistent hue was a good learning experience. Also, the presence of so much black in the still life gave the watercolours a very dramatic quality.

Tuesday AM Critique

Tuesday AM Critique

Tuesday PM Critique

Tuesday PM Critique


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6 Responses to “Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Seven!”

  1. btacoma Says:


  2. lindahalcombfineart Says:

    This is very useful information. Do you think you can get good blacks by glazing your two colors? Or just by mixing? I’ve never been very successful with glazing.

    • Barry Coombs Says:

      I find that mixing works well, Linda. However, a value can be darkened even more by glazing it with the same mix. Make sure it’s dry first. Does that make sense? Glazing with the same mix can help prevent opacity which is usually a result of applying the paint thickly and not fluidly.

    • lindahalcombfineart Says:

      Makes sense…thank you!

  3. Carol King Says:

    Another informative post. Thanks Barry.

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