Sunday, October 28, 2012
Solomon was a Royal Academy painter who also trained in France. In his book "The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing," he lists black as one of the colors on his palette. But he also quotes a maxim of Rubens: "It is very dangerous to use white and black."
There's nothing wrong with black as a color—Sargent used it, too, and so have painters all through the ages. The danger comes from using black to tone all the dark mixtures, and from infusing the painting with too many heavy, colorless passages in the deep tones of the picture. This can rob the dark passages of luminosity, and can take away the specialness that a black note should have. Contemporary painters who use photos as reference tools should be especially aware of this problem, since photos usually present a lot of areas of pure black.
You can order Solomon Solomon's book on painting from my website store. I wrote the introduction, and have some copies that I've signed. The book is also available through Amazon.