Transparent Darks



This is a recent painting of a waterfall in Boone, NC.  I have been viewing a DVD by Jeffrey Hein, who is an amazing painter (  He talks about using transparent darks and opaque highlights in this film.  I remember him discussing his exploration into transparent colors a few years ago at the Portrait Society conference.  That concept went right over my head.  He again mentions that keeping your darks transparent helps with the illusion of depth and making forms turn.  I won’t do his information justice, but I did accidentally find that worked in this particular painting.

I blocked in the stream area and some of the other darks with some combination of Sap Green, Alizarin Crimson Permanent and some Ultramarine Blue.  I kept that transparency particularly in the forefront of the water.  I think it made a difference in creating depth.  I also kept it in some of the darks in the bushes with the green and blue.

Looking at the painting again I’m not happy with that triangle of trees above the bright green patch in the background — also the clouds follow that line as well.  I’ll probably go back in and adjust those so they don’t look so contrived. But all in all I was pretty happy with this painting.  It’s a combination of brushwork and palette knife.  I didn’t try to demand that I do palette knife everywhere.

Of course the next day I went out and tried to duplicate that sense of depth with transparent darks and was not as successful.  But it’s a concept that I want to continue to explore.  In fact I think that Jeff Hein has an opaque and transparent version of all his colors on his palette.

All in all a fun weekend painting!  Happy painting to you!!!



2 thoughts on “Transparent Darks

  1. Donn

    Your paintings are beautiful and communicate well that you love to paint. How did you find the rest of the Dvd by Jeff Hein? I’m considering buying it but I’m nervous as my budgets tight. Is it as informative as he says? Any feedback is appreciated!

    1. Robin Wellner Post author

      Thank you for your kind words. I do love to paint!! It was good. He has students asking questions during it and he answers those. He really doesn’t talk much as a “teacher”, its mainly him painting — as a result it’s quite long. I think they filmed the whole time. I’d like to watch it again. He’s an amazing painter!! Had it on while I was painting!!!


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