Uses of Mars Black

Black is banned.

This statement rings in my ears from my art school days, and I keep reading it in how-to books.  It can’t be further from the truth.

Black acrylic paint is an extremely versatile addition to your colour palette – just use it VERY carefully.  Small amounts will have a dramatic effect on the colours you are mixing.

You need to understand what it can do to use it correctly and avoid dirty colours.

Uses of Mars Black

A bit about Mars black:
It has a slightly blue bias: So what you ask!  Well it is this colour bias that can work in your favour to mix some gorgeous subtle colour mixes.

Here are a couple of examples.
The top colour swatches show the brown – blue colour bias of the different blacks.  Its colour bias becomes obvious when mixed with a little Titanium white – as we can see – Ivory Black has a subtle brown tinge/bias, while the Mars black has a slightly blue tinge or bias.

The green on the left is a Mars black/Cadmium yellow mix which gives a warm green with a brown bias due to the orange in the Cad yellow.  The green on the right is a Mars black/Lemon yellow mix which gives a more acidic green due to the lemon yellow.

The red on the left is a Mars black/Crimson mix which gives a deep dark red with a purply bias due to Crimson’s blue bias.  The red on the right is a Mars black/Cadmium red mix giving a dark rich red with a brown tinge due to the yellow in the Cadmium red

Uses of Mars Black

So there you go!  This should give you an idea as to how the careful use of Mars black can result in a far wider range of subtle colour mixes.  

DON’T WORRY – if you got a little confused with all the colour bias stuff.  As long as you got the basic idea that you CAN use black in your colour mixing – all be it with care.  The rest will come with colour mixing practice, reading up a bit on colour theory and generally just paying attention to what happens when you mix one colour with another.

But that’s what art is all about – paying attention.
Have fun.
Feel free to ask any questions – I’ll do my best to explain further.