Monochromatic / Monochrome paintings
A monochromatic color scheme or monochrome
painting limits you to just one color along with black and
white. This scheme does not allow for conflicting colors, even
the colors of the highlights are the same as the color of the
subject you are painting, only lighter. With monochromatic
color scheme, achieving color harmony is guaranteed, as only
one color and its various light and dark values are used.
Using this simplified color plan to make an
elementary statement about your subject is fun. Monochromatic
paintings are most successful when you use a wide range of
values that provide strong lights and darks. Painting with only
a few close values can limit the visual impact. So, to avoid a
bland look, add light and dark accents just as your would
season a dish with salt and pepper. Bring your painting into
focus by placing extreme value contrasts near the center of
Example of when a
monochromatic color scheme is used:
When the reference photo or scene has a
limited color range such as a blue and white boat in blue water
with white reflection, using Monochromatic color scheme
naturally make sense. The painting can go from black to dark
blue, to medium and light blue, and to white. To give the scene
of depth, the colors progress from relatively warm blue in the
foreground to cooler blue-gray and gray as they recede in the
distance. The center of interest is the boat, where the largest
area of temperature and value contrasts occurs.
- Monochromatic landscape
- Using a small, soft brush, mark out the painting with a
thin solution of red. For example, use Alzarin
- Using a large, round-ended hog bristle brush, lay in
the sky by painting the background sky first followed by
the shadow on the clouds. Then add the highlighted clouds
in thick white. With a hog bristle bright, mix two tones
for the land, using the paler on behind.
- Make the nearer hills stronger in tone. You will still
need to keep a little white in the nearest land. This gives
the paint its body. Finally add the trees, which are the
darkest part and therefore have mainly red in them.
Paint the road a pale pink.
Exercise - Monochromatic
- Use a small, soft brush to mix a little Cobalt Blue and
a lot of medium to create a watery color, and use this
to mark out y our clouds. Clouds become flatter and
longer as they recede into the distance.
- Change to a large, round ended brush and on your
palette mix blue with a little white and very little
medium. Apply this mix from the top of the picture moving
downwards. As you do so, add more white to the mix to make
the sky lighter in the distance.
- Still using your large brush, mix a medium toned blue
(rather like the color half way down the sky). Apply this
on the undersides of the clouds. This will be the cloud
- Wipe your brush thoroughly on a rag and pick up a large
amount of white. Lay the white paint on thickly with your
brush to create the highlights on the clouds. Mix blue with
a touch of white for the land.