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Make a statement with black

Marie Antoniou demonstrates when and how the use of black can create impact in your acrylic paintings
Sumatran Tiger, acrylic, 50×70in (20×27.5cm)

This painting is made up of marks and colours but the black used for the tiger’s markings brings the painting together, making sense of the subject. Used sparingly, the black doesn’t overwhelm the painting or dull off other colours. I kept my colours clean by allowing layers of paint to dry before applying other colours on top

I have seen black used to great effect in paintings but having been taught never to use black, I wonder how something that is allegedly so wrong can be so right. I teach a lot of beginners, so I see some of the pitfalls they face when using black (I admit to giving a disapproving look when I see a tube of black creeping out of a student’s painting kit).

Introducing black into your work is certainly going to make a statement, because of its sheer strength, and it can make or break your final painting. When I began painting, I used a limited palette of primary colours – red, blue and yellow – and experimented by mixing to see the different shades of darks I could create without using black.

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About The Artist

Water-based media enthusiasts will find huge inspiration and masses of great advice from professional artists Hazel Soan, Jake Winkle, Cheryl Culver, Paul Weaver and Marie Antoniou this month. Hazel explains how to translate tones into watercolour on paper to maximise the effects of light and shade in your paintings; Jake reveals the watercolour techniques he recommends to paint texture and patterns in animals; Cheryl demonstrates a coastal scene in acrylics; Paul urges you to try quick studies in line and wash to keep your en plein air skills in tip top condition while Marie demonstrates how to use tube black to best effect in your acrylic paintings! Learn more from Adele Wagstaff about the structure of the lower limbs and feet to help improve your figure painting, and the colours to use for skin tones for your coloured pencil portraits from Alyona Nicklesen. With more features on pastel painting, detailed still lifes, a new technique to try and oil painting demonstrations from Peter Graham and Bob Brandt, whatever your favourite subject matter or medium you're bound to find loads to inspire you in this month's issue!