I often struggle with high key areas and highlights. I have a bad habit of grabbing titanium white to achieve those high key values. I always kick myself afterwards when critiquing my pieces and remind myself to NEVER NEVER apply white from the tube. But I keep forgetting.
I recently read a comment on Facebook from noted British painter Michael Richardson that brought back memories of a workshop suggestion that I should have incorporated into my work:
"Michael Richardson one of my teachers told me never to use anything but Naples Yellow until right at the end of a painting when white can be used for bright accents and particularly to avoid titanium because it is so blue and kills colour in mixes ..."
Naples yellow is a muted dull yellow. Various manufacturers make a Naples Light and Naples Deep. Historically, Naples Yellow was a lead-based pigment, and therefore highly toxic. Today, many companies produce it from a mix of "safer" colours - a hue. For example, Golden Naples Yellow Hue blends Titanium White, Yellow Oxide and Diarylide Yellow to create an opaque, rich hue.
I use it but not often .
This week I added some Naples Yellow Light to my titanium white - about 50%. It cuts the harshness of the white and warms it with very little change in value. I made a couple of small sketches using this mix for raising the value and for areas of highest value. I liked it. It leaves value room for a special highlight of almost pure white should I need it.
The acrylic sketch above is one of a few from a recent trip to Tofino on Vancouver Island. I need to produce a few larger pieces and so am playing with compositonal choices, values etc. All lightening was done with the titanium- naples mixture.
If you suffer from similar issues of white overpowering your pieces, consider adding Naples to your titanium white and completely remove titanium from your palette until you have critiqued your work and decided that you need that last high value punch. Worth playing with to see if you like it.