Why not black?
It is often heard that black paint should be avoided, or even that it is forbidden in watercolor painting. I can understand why, a black detail. in a painting that does not contain any black otherwise, does not look good. But if the black color is part of the coloring of the painting, and is included in mixtures with other colors, black color works just as well as anyone else.
Many claim that all black colors MUST be mixed from other colors, that black must not be painted with just black. Nonsense, black is just one of many colors that the watercolor painter has at his disposal, but it must be used with common sense, just like any other color.
For that reason, here is an exercise with almost only black color.
The painting is made with ivory black, burnt sienna and raw sienna. It works with lamp black if you do not have ivory black, but I personally prefer the former.
This painting is very difficult to do without a really good drawing as a basis. Be very careful with the drawing, each line must be drawn with precision. With an accurate and precise drawing, the painting is quite simple to perform, without one it becomes almost impossible.
After all the drawing, it’s time to start painting. Soak the paper around the coffee pot and the cup with clean water, then with black paint, on the wet paper, put all the different shadows that you see in the photo. It can be difficult to see where it is dark and bright in the photo because of all the black lines that confuse. If so, look at my first step that might be helpful with the shadows.
As always when you are going to paint a larger surface wet on wet, it is better to wet the paper very much and then let the liquid sink in. That way, the paper is saturated with water and you have more time for the actual painting.
The color of this first step is black only.
When the paper is dry after the first step, start to paint the coffee pot and cup.
Paint the lid of the coffee pot with black + raw sienna. While the color is still wet, add a little darker reflections with black color. Leave the light upper part unpainted.
Wet the entire outside of the coffee pot and then paint, with black paint, wet in wet a few shades that make the pot look like metal.
Paint the coffee cup and saucer with light color (the cup is white) Feel free to mix a little warm color in the black, burnt or unburned sienna. Be sure to leave a white unpainted edge along the saucer edge and the top of the cup.
Now it’s time to paint all the black lines on the surface. Use only black paint for this.
If you look really closely at my painting, you will see that not all lines have the same value. The lines are lighter where the white surface is the lightest. This is not insignificant, it creates more light in the painting if the lines are not only black, but you should be able to discern small nuances between all the black lines.
In this step, reflections in the coffee pot should be painted. It is important to be careful and follow the photo as closely as possible. Black color is used for all lines in the jug’s reflections, in the yellow part of the lid the lines should only be indicated with light color.
Do not forget the reflex of the cup with saucer in the coffee pot. The shadows in the cup can be made a little warmer, either with the help of burnt or unburnt sienna + black. The coffee in the cup should be painted with black + burnt sienna so that it gets a “coffee color”
The handle and thumb grip on the coffee pot can be started, because it must be painted in two steps, this first step must be allowed to dry before the second step is painted.
Finish the coffee pot handle with a really dark black color. Leave a few narrow unpainted lines between the different surfaces so that the handle does not just become a black lump.
Lighter surfaces in the black handle can be soaked up with a damp brush. Do not forget to paint the hole in the front of the coffee pot lid, without it, there will be no coffee.
I used white paint to show some highlights in the lid of the coffee pot at the end of the painting, you can also do it if needed. But if your painting is perfect and the light in the painting is believable, ignore the white color.