First of all I will say what not to do, and it is just what I saw in a television program where they gave a course of crafts and there was a demonstration of painting, the advice of the craftsman to darken and clarify the colors was simply to use white and Black, and that is NOT ok, obviously many colors are brightened with white, but almost seldom darkened with black, unless we are painting something really black.
I will explain, if we clarify everything with white, we will be taking life to the colors, leaving them whitish and very opaque, we will end up with milky colors, if we darken with black we would be destroying all the colors, taking out there strength and vividness.
Imagine clarifying a green with white instead of light it up with yellow, with white we will have an opaque green so in this case it will work better to clarify with yellow, imagine a blue, if we try to lighten the blue with yellow what we will get is a green, then In this case only white is used, if we clarify a red with white we will get pink, if we apply yellow we will get orange and from there we can continue to clarify with more yellow and a pinch of white, this also depends on the illumination, imagine A sunny day and our still life (imagine that we paint a still life) it is getting direct the sunlight, so here the light will be dominated by yellow, so we will use more yellow for the lights, but if the lighting is as soft as an Interior, then the lights are opaque and therefore to clarify the lights will be used more white, but becareful because here enters another factor: the colors of the objects, If the color of the object is dark the light possibly does not become very clear, so we will not need as much yellow or white.
A litle bit complicated? The truth that the color theory in painting is what we should study the most, it is not easy and there are many factors to take into account.
Now we have another way to clarify, and it is by contrast or tone, here comes the question, are we tone painters or colorists? The tone looks for the contrast between light and shadow, and the colorist focuses more on the vibration and contrast of the color itself.
Here an example, a colorist would clarify using more yellow and contrasting the objects by color, that is if we have an orange object, let’s say a blue background, this would be a very high contrast of complementary colors and therefore would clarify the orange and at the same time would make it vibrate more intensely, in the case of the tonalist painter he would try to use a light and dark contrast, if he have a yellow object, he would surround it with dark colors and by contrast the yellow would be clearer, so here we see how we can clarify the colors In several ways.
Now let’s darken the colors.
Darkening a color follows a basic rule in color theory: To get the shade of a color we must mix it with its complementary color and add a pinch of blue, ultramarine blue is the choosen one.
If we follow this simple rule we will get vibrat dark colors , which would be different to only apply black, imagine the yellow darkening it with black, we will get a dark greenish mixture, a dirty color, dead, now if we darken the yellow mixing it with its complementary one that is The violet will get a variety of ochres depending on how much violet we apply to the mixture, try and see the difference.