How to create rich backgrounds with dark colors

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Have you ever wondered how artists obtain a rich, velvety depth to their paintings? Here is one way of using a Using Burnt Umber gesso as a base and applying multiple layers of opaques and transparent colors. In this example I am using a drybrush technique and a cotton cloth.

Step 1. Apply Burnt Umber Gesso all over your surface

Step 2. Organize your color family paints

  • Move around your surface with different colors within the same color family. In this example I am working with blues. Put thin layers of blue colors down. Normally, you would dry the surface between coats.
  • Color used: Cobalt Blue, Anthraquinone Blue, Manganese Blue Hue, Cerulean Blue Chromioum, Cobalt Teal, Aqua, Celadon, Sapphire and Brilliant Blue.

Step 3. Move all around your surface

  • You can use all your leftover opaque and transparent paints of the same color family. You can also use a cotton cloth to move the colors around . Keep overlapping and layering the opaques and the transparent colors within the blue spectrum – the order of application is not important. The goal is to create richness of color. Stop when the paint no longer moves around easily. Dry.

Step 4. Uniting different colors with one color

  • Unite all the different blues with Burnt Umber Gesso. Spritz with water if the mixture is too thick.
  • Good colors to unite the colors of your surface: Manganese Blue, Quinacridone Gold, thinned down Anthraquinone Blue or Burnt Umber.

Step 5. It’s up to you!

  • Decide if you want to paint over top or do a collage or wherever your imagination leads you.

Watch many more “How To?” videos on my YouTube channel .