How to do the gray color drawing. How to do the gray color? Let’s face it: gray, among the many colors that exist, is one of the most snubbed. How many people do you know who answer that it is gray when asked about their favorite color? Probably none, or almost none. A survey conducted between the United States and Europe asked to discover that gray is the favorite color of 1% of the population. Not only that: with this test, it found that people tend to associate this color with old age, boredom, modesty, and indifference. In short, not a color full of joy or the most loved.
However, this does not mean that gray is not fundamental in the art world. Indeed, it is most likely for this reason that you came here: you are painting, or you are preparing to do it, but you have noticed that you do not even have a tube of gray color available. The most convenient option is to connect to our e-commerce, in the sections dedicated to oil colors, acrylics, tempera, or watercolors. And buy the gray you are looking for. But as fast as our shipments may be, they will never be fast enough for you to start painting right away!
Gray in history and art
Admit it: you, too, thinking about the Middle Ages, immediately visualize, among other things, just the color gray. The stones of the castles were gray, the clothes worn by the poor were gray, the color of the untreated wool gray, and the armor of the knights gray. But that’s not all. The days of the monks also contributed to the overall greyness: the Cistercians, the Capuchins, and the Franciscans dressed in colors that played around the gray to underline their vows of humility.
In short, in the middle Ages, gray was not highly regarded, being a color destined for poverty and humility. With the Renaissance, however, things began to change, with gray beginning to creep into the clothing of the nobility. It is certainly no coincidence that even today, many elegant dresses are gray: this is because, starting from 1400, black and white began to be the colors of nobility, and therefore of elegance. And you know, both of these colors are in perfect harmony with the gray lotus flower drawing.
At the same time, gray began to make more and more space in the world of painting, especially for paintings with oil colors, with the affirmation of the “grisaille” technique, which we will discuss below. Gray was then widely used as a background for the colors of the skin, as well as as a factual background, thanks to which it was possible to emphasize the most influential figures in the painting: in this sense, for example, gray was used frequently by Rembrandt, famous for his use of dark tints.
Finally, in 1700, the color gray became the fashionable color par excellence. From the paintings, we discover that the general preference was for a relatively bright gray, light in summer, and darker during the cold months. However, it must say that gray was still a typical color of the humbler sections of the population: it is not by chance that the low-class Parisian prostitutes, still in the nineteenth century, were called “grisette.”
How to do the theoretical gray color drawing
How is gray achieved? Most likely, you already know the most immediate, and yes, most mundane, answer to this question. To make gray, combine black and white. With a higher dose of white, you will naturally have a light gray, while with a higher amount of black, you will have a darker gray. So simple. This color combination gives what painters call neutral gray, pure gray, or theoretical gray. The term “pure” is used to indicate that, in this case, the gray does not have particular shades or shades of color: it is gray and nothing else.
On the other hand, the term “theoretical,” tends to express a negative judgment on this color. Yes, because theoretical gray is something artificial, which does not exist in nature, and therefore should not be used in paintings that want to be realistic. Theoretical gray is, in fact, a flat color, unlikely, not at all vibrant. So yes, to make the color gray, mix black and white. But to make an excellent gray, a gray to use for painting, it is better to take an extra step: let’s find out how to prepare the pictorial gray!
How to do the pictorial gray color
Here we are no longer talking about theory: here, we are talking about the gray you should do with watercolors, oil paints, or acrylics to have a satisfying painting. In this case, we speak of “pictorial” gray or a “richer” gray. But, first, you need to know that there are many different ways to achieve painterly gray.
For example, it is possible to create a primary gray by mixing the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), possibly giving more space to the tone that will prevail: for a reddish-gray, therefore, redder will be added, for a gray tending to yellow will abound with yellow. But, in general, if you mix the primary colors, you will still get a dark gray.
Another approach, diametrically different, is to use two complementary colors. These are color pairs that are on the opposite side of the color circle. For example, Cyan and orange are complementary, like purple and yellow, magenta and green, etc. Do you want a gray in shades of orange? Then, following this technique, you should mix a bit of burnt sienna and then an orange, with its complement, ultramarine blue, using more of the first than the second. You will have a nice “painterly” gray, which you can then adjust with a touch of white or black.
What is gray in painting for?
A warm gray, a pearl gray, a charcoal gray, a bluish-gray – following the instructions we saw above, you can create any gray with your colors and your brush. You can use it to make backgrounds, for a cloudy sky, paint shadows, turn off a too bright color, and so on.
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