Chromatic Black

A Unique Black

Many painters choose to mix their own blacks, rather than using black pigments such as Ivory or Mars. Mixed blacks can certainly have more subtle mixing characteristics and relate closer to the rest of the colors in one’s palette. However, limiting the use of tubed blacks can make the work of color mixing much harder than it needs to be. Gamblin has taken a very unique approach to the issue of “mixed” blacks.

Gamblin Chromatic Black gives painters a neutral, tinting black with energy that doesn’t muddy and flatten the colors the way traditional blacks do. Because Chromatic Black is made from two colors that are perfect complements, Quinacridone Red and Phthalo Emerald, it gives painters a dead-center black with life to it and a clean transparency.

The transparency of Chromatic Black gives it a deep, rich quality and makes it ideal for mixing with other transparent colors for glazing techniques.

Frustrated with the strong tinting strength of other black pigments, Michigan artist Sharon Griffes Tarr sought out a black with greater sensitivity in mixing and mark-making. Not only did she adopt Chromatic Black for toning her canvases, but she incorporates this unique black throughout her color mixing to control the values and temperature of her color schemes to create a unified mood throughout her compositions.


Sharon explains, “The color tints out to a lovely grayish mauve and is supportive to many of the more vivid color combinations found in nature. I’ve found that adding Chromatic Black to colors creates beautiful subtle variations that are very pleasing to the eye. It has become a most welcome and frequent addition to my regular palette.”

Mississippi artist Marc Hanson recently added Chromatic Black to his paint box and found it ideal to capture the deep summer greens within the piece, “Corner Light.” At a time of year when color and contrast are at their maximum, Marc beautifully deepens the value within the mass of surrounding greens to provide a strong balance to the thin highlight, while maintaining great nuance and vibrancy of color.

Featured Artists’ Websites:

Sharon Griffes Tarr:
Marc Hanson:

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