Ask the Expert…Becky Joy

Don’t Tell Me Don’t


Don’t tell me I can’t build my own website. I learned and built two. Maybe my time could have been spent more wisely, but I’m happy about it now. Don’t tell me to not touch a cactus. I did it. Ouch! Don’t tell me to not do some electrical work in the house. I did it. (Just in case, I hired an electrician afterward. It was OK.). Don’t tell me I can’t make a living as an artist. I do and should have made the decision to do it earlier. Don’t tell me not to use black. That’s ridiculous. Don’t tell me not to mix more than three colors together. I do it all the time and even use the results. Don’t tell me to not over mix my colors. I mix as long as I want.

I’m betting that you are much like me, the word “don’t” is a green light.


Just the fact that you are an artist makes you a risk-taker to some degree. You may feel you had no choice but to be an artist, it is who you are. Ultimately, that is how I feel. Although, I tried to suppress it for a time, it didn’t work.


I’m much more likely to jump into something when someone tells me I can’t, shouldn’t or don’t. In fact, I have to admit I occasionally get myself into things I shouldn’t be doing. But, most of the time I learn and expand my horizons.

Many successful artists have used black including Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas. The use of black should be a personal choice. I have seen artists that I believe abuse the use of black, having “dirty” looking paintings, black shadows or using black for graying of all colors. It’s easy to contaminate or overwhelm colors with black. But if an artist learns to control black and use it wisely, it can be very effective. Which is really the case with any color. I went through what I call my “yellow” period. I was told not to use white in my paintings to instead replace it with yellow. This must also have been a compliant period for me, for all my paintings had an overwhelming yellow tone to them.


Then there is the “gray issue”. Don’t mix more than three colors together. Come on, this just doesn’t make sense to me. By definition, gray is the mixture of all three primaries in various amounts. Does it really matter how you get there? Say I need my gray to be more violet. I’ve already mixed my three primaries to get my theoretical gray, but it’s not quite right. The dilemma: Should I just take a violet (that would make four colors in my mixture) or do I go back to the primaries of red and blue. Does it really matter? I’ll go for the violet every time, to quickly mix the violet-gray that I want. Now, this is a really big NO, I continuously clean my palette, gathering all the paint together creating a gray which I modify for whatever I need. Whoa! I didn’t stop to count how many colors I mixed together.


And of course, don’t over mix your colors. Why not? I want control of my colors. When I’m mixing colors together, they are often different values. If the colors are not mixed thoroughly, they often look too busy, muddy or not unified. If I purposely want several colors juxtaposed together, I will mix each color, thoroughly, and then place them next to each other. But, each of those colors that I mix and place together in a space will be the same value. To me it looks more cohesive and stronger. I’m not sure that I can suppress the urge to stand up and quietly defy when I’m told “don’t”. But then, it’s not something that I really want to do. I have learned many things on this journey and have continuously evolved on my own path. So don’t tell me “don’t over mix your colors”. I’ll mix as long as I want, besides, I love playing in the paint.



Visit Becky’s website to find out more about her work, online classes and workshops.

#beckyjoy #artmusecontest #intheartiststudio #paintingtips #oilpainter



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