Paula has sent me the painting she is doing of the Black Labrador project and asked:
“Do I have to make the background like your one? I should like to keep my background light, can I make it pale pink (like the tongue) and a touch of green?”
This is a very interesting question and I am pleased that I have the opportunity of explaining the do’s and don’t’s of the background techniques on this subject. The function of a background is to frame and enhance the subject by using tones that match or compliment the colours in the work. It is also important to place lighter tones against the dark areas of the subject and dark tones against the light areas. This creates a pleasing contrast that works best with a subtle approach.
Paula has asked if she could use pinks and greens on the background to this painting and the answer is yes as long as she adheres to the rule that a base colour of light grey (270 or 230) placed on first and rubbed well into the pastel paper. The reason for this is that the black is very dominant and if any other light tone was used it would clash with the dark tones. I would also use a 273 or 233 mid grey on top of the light grey as this will strengthen the overall tone and give both the light and dark areas a good contrast.
After that pale pinks and greens can then be added to the mix a little at a time until the desired effect is realised. I am afraid that if these light colours were used just on their own without any base it would not work out so well.