Should I use black paint for shadows?

When it comes to painting, no matter what your subject is, you need to take note of the area’s that are in full light and in shadow and choose your palette around these factors. The lighting in a painting is just as important as the composition.


Photo by Jeremy Bishop, Bali, Indonesia – Unsplash

Take a look at the image above and look closely at the area’s that are in shadow. There are a lot of them, it is a very busy photo but what you will notice is that the shadows are just darker hues of the colours already there. Now look at the area’s that the sunlight is hitting. Again, they become a lighter hue of the existing colour. This photo has been taken when the sun is high and the light is at its best. Let’s take a look at a photo taken when the sun is just rising.


Photo by Joshua Sortino, Big Sur, USA – Unsplash

Now take a look at the areas that are in shadow. The light is poor therefor the only way you can get depth and contrast when painting an image lit with poor light is by using black in your mix of paint.

In summary of the photos above, light is a main factor when it comes to choosing how dark shadows should be painted.


Let’s now explore how YOU can darken a colour, without any black paint in sight. I have painted the colour wheel using only the three primary colours and then added more colour to create the darkest hue possible for red and blue.


Colour wheel

We will start by having a look at the basic colour wheel.

Primary colours are RED, BLUE, YELLOW. Why are they called the primary colours? Because you cannot make these colours by mixing other colours together.

Secondary colours are PURPLE, ORANGE, GREEN. These colours are made by mixing two primary colours together.

Complimentary colours are the opposite colours facing each other on the colour wheel. RED & GREEN, BLUE & ORANGE, YELLOW & PURPLE.

Cool colours are BLUE, GREEN, PURPLE.

Warm colours are RED, ORANGE, YELLOW.

To darken a WARM colour, it is best to use a COOL. It does not have to be its complimentary colour.

Red dark hues
Green has been added to get a darker colour.

To darken a COOL colour you have to use another COOL colour.

Blue dark hues
Purple has been added to get a darker colour.


Compare the Pear

Black Shadow Pear

Here are two pears I have painted. Pear A has no black in it, the shadows have been created by darkening and mixing colours and it was very easy for colours to blend, mix and sit beside each other, using this process. Pear B uses only black to make shadows. Black is such a dominant colour and I have only used the tiniest amount and it was very hard to try and blend the shadow area in. I don’t think I did a very good job of it at all, I felt scared I was going to ruin the painting and therefore it is definitely the worse of the two.

Click here to watch the colour wheel and Compare the Pear video on YouTube.

It just so happened that I wrote this article after days of wet and overcast weather and looking outside trying to look at shadows was not easy because of the dull light. It’s your turn now, have a look at natural light casting shadows on objects and see what colour the shadows are. Why not have a go at Compare the Pear and see which way feels more comfortable, using colour to paint shadows or using black. You don’t have to paint a pear, a simple rock or ball will do but I do recommend you use more than one colour in your paintings.

Also worth noting, I painted the colour wheel and pears with Gouache paint, mainly because it is always close by however this article relates to all paint varieties, from water colour through to oils.

And finally, if you do give this exercise a go, please #mrsredsartroom so I can see your results as well.

Happy painting!

Mrs Red







Meet an Art Cart’er – Jasmin Pinnington

I have met some wonderful people in such a short time with Red’s Art Carts and there are some seriously talented folk out there! Every month I will feature another Art Cart’er so everyone can have a sticky beak into the creative lives.

If you had to describe an ‘art dabbler’, Jasmin comes to mind. She walked into Mrs Red’s art room several years ago when I had a shop here on the Gold Coast and every Friday she would come in to fill her creative soul by purchasing something. She had a budget and if items exceeded that budget, I would see her in two weeks rather than one. She became a great friend, one I could bounce creative ideas off and she is one of very few people who I told about Red’s Art Cart (although never what was inside). She was on board immediately and is the reason why I wanted to ask her to be my first Art Cart’er – so thank you for your ongoing support Jasmin Flower (that’s how I remembered her name in the early days and how her name and number is stored in my phone).



Describe yourself in 5 to 10 individual words.
Neurotic, creative, honest, empathetic, over-thinker, enthusiastic, open minded, argumentative, fickle.

Where do you reside and who do you live with?
Burleigh, on the Gold Coast with my husband and three of my four children (20, 15 and 8). The eldest (22) moved out 2 months ago but is close by and still comes home at least once a week to do her washing and raid the fridge and pantry.

Jas Map

Where would you like to reside?
Burleigh, on the Gold Coast! Maybe a little closer to the beach, and with a little more of a garden. Tallebudgera is gorgeous and the NSW North Coast is also beautiful.

Describe your ultimate holiday escape.
Either backpacking Europe, or on a beach in Fiji.

Describe your art style.
I don’t know! Eclectic perhaps. I actually don’t feel like I have developed a ‘style’ yet, there’s too much that I love and feel inspired by. I love colourful, busy art and also simple minimal and whimsical artwork.


Did you do art at school? If so, please tell us a memory from the art room that stood out (the good or the bad).
Only in the first year of high school, and I hated it, probably mostly because of the teacher. I also thought I was no good at art so why bother trying (probably why the teacher didn’t think much of me either!)

Do you have an actual art space at home?
Can I preface this question by saying, I am really looking forward to reading other answers, I am a bit obsessed with studios and creative spaces in general and I have a Pinterest board full of dream studios! One day!….

Anyway, what I have now is, half of our living area space. Over the past few years, I have gradually taken it over… our dining table hasn’t been a dining table for about five years! I don’t love that it interferes visually with our living area but it’s pretty vital space for the continued existence of ‘me’ as a person and it accommodates all my interests. I am very lucky that I have a very accommodating husband and an understanding family and nobody yells about all the space I take up.


Do you earn any money from your creative talents? If not, do you want to or just happy doing it for yourself?
Not really! I have sold a bare handful of pieces. And that’s ok. I ‘make’ because I am alive and it’s like breathing for me, so…. I would love to make some money from it, just to finance my obsession with buying new art supplies J (I am sure my husband would also appreciate this!)

Where do you get your creative inspiration from?
Everywhere. The beach and nature, are really big things for me. Some of the polymer clay pendants I have made are very ocean inspired. But I tend to love everything so inspiration is really, everywhere.


At time of this interview, please note down the last photo taken on your phone and describe why you took it.
The last photo I took is actually a screenshot of Vodafone’s phone plans! So, let’s go with this one… it’s a close up of a skirt that I made for myself, I took the photo to send to my mum.

Last photo

What was for dinner last night? Did you make it? Are you the main cook? Do you like cooking dinner?
Last night was Subway, because I was on my way out. Cooking is shared in our house, I don’t do anywhere near as much as I used to which I’m very happy with. I kind of got over it, after doing it for so many years. Occasionally I have bursts of culinary inspiration but mostly, it’s a chore.

Scroll forward 10 years. What is life looking like?
In ten years time our youngest child will be 18 and the other three will have all moved out. All I can see is more time for making – it looks fantastic! 😀

How are you going with the Art Carts?
I love getting them, and opening them up. That’s the highlight of my month! I need to dedicate time to actually using the supplies though, that’s my big let down at the moment.

Do you have art galleries and art shops where you live? What about ‘art’ style markets?
Yeah, I guess so? We have the Art Centre at least….to be honest I don’t look around that much… I do look online a lot and we go to local markets which often have artists there.


Facebook       Instagram      Etsy shop

Thanks Jasmin for letting us into your world. Above are the links to where you can follow Jasmin’s business, Indigo Shores and maybe even support one of our budding Gold Coast artists!



What’s inside OCTOBER Red’s Art Cart?

With another month beginning, another truck load (ok maybe not truck load, yet) of Art Carts were sent out in the post. There is a triple wow factor with these carts.



The first WOW starts with the simple and old style brown paper packaging complete with colourful washi tape. What a shame I cannot put all the postage stamps on these parcels, that would top the look right off!



The second WOW is when the customer opens the brown paper and is greeted with a paint splattered box. This is one of my most favourite times of the month. I put all the flat boxes out on the back lawn and go nuts splattering paint everywhere and then watch as colours come together, so much fun!



The third WOW is opening the box and seeing what is inside! Only my own family knows what is in each months carts and they are sworn to secrecy. Working 3 months ahead of delivery, there is always a lot of art supplies turning up at my front door, ready to play with or pack.


So, let’s have a look at what exactly did arrive in the October Art Cart.


Watch the link of the YouTube video, with the first few minutes just scanning the items in the cart. I then show how each item actually works. This does make for longer video’s and I am trying to make them shorter but there are two problems in my way. One is that I love to talk, secondly, I am very passionate about my art supplies and can’t help throwing in a little story/experience from time to time. Sorry!

If you like what was inside and want to see more of how the marker pens are being used then please watch the Dream Catcher video, which happens to be sped up 600 times so doesn’t take as long to watch.

If you have purchased this cart, please show us your artworks via Instagram or the Facebook page which is mentioned on your information card inside your cart.

Info card-2

I look forward to seeing marker pens take over October!

Learn how to draw a Tonal Scale


Tonal ScaleThis week I wanted to show you a quick exercise to try if you are about to draw something in pencil or about to sketch something up, like a painting for example.

A graphite tonal scale shows how heavy that grade of pencil can go following through to how light it can be used. In the YouTube video, I used a 2B which is a fairly standard weight. Ladies, if your own weight is somewhere between size 12-14, the next time you are asked what is your weight, just say 2B, merely to see the reaction!

Tone is a critical part of any drawing, painting or mixed media artwork. Why? Because without tone, your artwork will look flat and 2D. By doing a tonal scale in just one weight pencil for a graphite sketch, you can then check if your sketch includes all areas of that scale.

Artist: Norman Lindsay (1878-1969) Title: Study for Marriage Medium: Pencil on paper Image Size: 64.5 x 51.5 cm

Australian artist, Norman Lindsay (1878-1969), is a great example for tonal sketches. This continues in his pen sketches, etchings and also paintings. Imagine the lack of choice art supplies available around the turn of the 20th century yet the quality of the work of these artists is simply outstanding.

Enjoy watching this quick video of Mrs Red doing a tonal scale in 2B pencil and then have a go yourself. All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper, too easy!

9 ways to make time for art, every week.

Photo by Atilla Taskiran on Unsplash

Since I released the Red’s Art Cart in July 2017 some of my subscribers have said that in that month they haven’t found the time to open the box and play with the products. I am going to help you FIND time to do some art every week, regardless if you are a subscriber to the Art Carts or not.


Below is 9 ways to make ART time every week!

Set 30 minutes aside ONCE a week. This may be on your day off, get up 30 minutes earlier if you are an early riser like myself or if you are the opposite, a night owl, plan for 30 minutes in the evening after dinner and when kids have gone to bed. It’s 30 minutes in a WEEK, not a day. It has to be a full 30 minutes too, not broken into 10 minute sessions.

Set a monthly theme. Perhaps for the month of October, your theme is all about flowers (its spring time in Australia so there is an abundance). Set yourself a monthly goal of maybe 4 art projects related to flowers. Again, this is once a week and depending on your skills and your materials, these projects may take 10 minutes or a few hours. Breaking down 4 projects into 4 weeks becomes manageable though.

Photo by Victoria Bilsborough on Unsplash

Behave like a Master! Think about the Masters of the art world. The likes of Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet. I truly believe they became so darn amazing at what they did because back then in the late 1800’s they did not have the distractions that we have now. No television, no telephones, no fast cars to get you from A to B and the big one and you know where I am going with this… no online world to distract them from their profession! I hate to be blunt BUT replace 30 minutes (a week remember) by turning the TV off, put your phone down, stop scrolling through social media. Just 30 minutes, replace 30 minutes of most likely wasted screen time with art time. Social media will still be there half an hour later, I promise.

Join in on a challenge. Contradicting myself a little bit here, because this always seems to be a social media game but there are many #challenges you can join, particularly on Instagram. In the Red’s Art Cart, I include an Artist Trading Card (ATC) in every cart and the challenge if you wish, is to create a little artwork on that ATC and send it back to me and I then put it into someone else’s cart in the future. Joining a challenge also makes you accountable.

Work small. Big isn’t always better! Sometimes a big sketchbook or large canvas can just seem overwhelming. An A6 sketchbook, ATC, or postcard size canvas – all these make a little artwork more achievable and then you feel like you have achieved.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Art is the best therapy! Studies have revealed that people who doodle on a constant basis are at less risk of losing their mind, as in dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s not hard to understand that a simple little creative session does sooth the mind, relaxes you and if it is going to help your mind stay strong and healthy in your golden years then what other reason do you want!

Take a course. This could be one in your local community or online based. It is hard to know the good from the bad and not all art teachers are on the same wave length as yourself but my advice is to start a course that is in your budget and find out from that if you are getting value for money.


Purchase an Art Cart! The best thing about Red’s Art Cart is that you can create something from the contents solely from that cart. Most carts even include paper. They arrive on your door and you don’t know what is inside until you open the box and then you can watch Mrs Red on YouTube creating an artwork with the materials from that cart, to give you a little more inspiration.


Create a studio space. There is nothing worse, when you have to wipe down the kitchen table of leftover food so that you don’t get grease stains on your paper. And then you have to pack your artwork up because it’s time for dinner! Create a nook, something that invites you to sit down to be creative. Those small square card tables are perfect as a starting point.

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

In summary, if you can adapt just one of these 9 ways to find more ART time, then you are on your way! Let me know how you go and if you have any other ideas, please share with us all by commenting below.

Red’s Art Cart or Red’s Student Art Cart?


If you have been wondering which Art Cart to choose then perhaps an explanation behind both of them will help with your decision.

The idea originated from the ‘subscription box’ concept that other businesses have created. From my research, the most popular subscription boxes around are related to health & beauty. And then there are smaller more gift like as well, candles, socks, even ties! I personally love the idea of these boxes and wanted to jump on board.

My competition was in the States and they are kicking arse with it. So, I decided to test the waters and subscribed to one to find out what it is all about. To say my excitement level was overwhelming when that first box arrived was an understatement. I was onboard immediately, using my materials that same day and although I knew what all the products were, they were ones that I had not tried. The following months box contained a product that hadn’t even arrived in Australia yet so felt very special indeed. The biggest issue though was the price. Converted to $AU plus postage hiked the price up considerably. Several months followed and I had a better idea of how to go about this myself.  After all, I have art reps I have been doing business with for 5 years prior to being solely an online art business.

The plan was to kick off the adults monthly Art Cart first and then follow it up with a student version. The monthly cart is planned four months ahead which works well with my need to plan, be organized and not leave anything to last minute. The student version was a little harder to work out. What age was I going to target, how in depth was the project going to be. I decided on a bi-monthly box for students, with all supplies and paper included plus detailed project plans.

So, who are you, which box is right for you and is it for you in the first place?

Red’s Art Cart is a monthly cart suited to ages 14+. Each month is a big secret as to what is inside and the month follows a theme so you can use the entire cart for one complete project OR you can just add new supplies to your, most likely, overfilled art supply box/cupboard/drawer. Donna Downey, one of America’s most popular mixed media artists and business owner once said, “she who dies with the most art supplies wins”. I love this quote and I think I am possibly in the running for that award! The monthly cart is not for the novice however. You want to be a hobby artist at the very least, someone who loves to dabble, try new things and get downright excited about starting a new artwork. I want to see you enjoy the challenge of creating something with the materials you received and sharing your artworks on social media with me and the world. All the details for this are mentioned on the information card included in each cart. There are no guided projects in this cart. You do however get to see myself, Mrs Red, create an artwork with the months cart materials over on the Mrs Red’s art room YouTube channel. This cart is designed to be a subscription which means the buyer doesn’t have to worry about remembering to pay before the next month. You can test the waters and buy a one-off month for a slightly higher price and I have also begun to add a few leftover carts to the online shop once that months has been sent out. The other fantastic reason to join this monthly subscription is if you live in a rural/remote area where art supply shops are just not an option.

Contents of September 17 Art Cart

On the flip side, we have Red’s Student Art Cart. My main reason for calling it ‘student’ rather than ‘kids’ is because the projects that are included are really guided with detailed project plans for each artwork. You may be an adult novice who hasn’t done art since high school and have no idea where to start and this will be the starting point before you progress to the monthly cart. I also wanted to target disadvantaged adult youth, the disabled and aged care. This cart is not aimed at ages 5+ with the projects able to be completed by this young age, with guidance from an adult. Also, a great option for home schooled youth as well as primary school teachers who want to incorporate some art projects with a difference in their classrooms. Three projects are included in the cart with all the supplies needed including the papers, which go up to A2 in size. Each project has a detailed project plan with a step-by-step format and you can also watch Mrs Red do the project on the YouTube channel. These carts begin in October 2017 and I will just keep releasing a new cart every 2 months. When you click on the Student Art Cart in the online shop, you will see a snapshot of the 3 projects included in that cart. So even if you want the October 17 cart in July 18 you can still purchase it, as the projects don’t date.

Snapshot of the projects found in the October 17 Student Art cart


I hope this has helped in any decisions you have to make about which is the right cart for your needs. If there is anything I have missed, please send me a question below this post.

And remember, it is healthy for the mind and the soul to take time out and do something creative. “Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain and artist when they grow up” – Pablo Picasso

Red’s STUDENT Art Cart has arrived!


Please click here STUDENT to read more about what is included and price options. The Student Art Cart is in my opinion the first of its kind in that the 3 projects inside have lesson plans included and you can also watch Mrs Red do the projects as well on the YouTube channel.

The first Student Art Cart orders close on 30th September and will be sent out on the 13th October. A whole lot of fun!!!!

Contents of AUGUST art cart!

Interested in signing up to Red’s Art Cart but want to know what is inside first? Here is a look at what is in this months Red’s Art Cart. The July cart is also on YouTube along with 2 video’s of artwork that I have done using the contents of each cart.

You have until 14th August to sign up to the September cart and one thing I am fairly confident in saying is that the contents are very different to any overseas art subscription service. I have gone the extra mile with this one!!!


Contents of July’s Art Cart!

If you have been waiting to purchase Red’s Art Cart because you wanted a rough idea of what is inside, now is your chance! Every cart offers professional and student grade art supplies, info sheet about the products, example art work showing off the products and 2 YouTube video’s, this one, showing the contents and how to use them and the other filming the making of the art work. Great value for money.

August Red’s Art Cart closes on the 14th July so make sure you don’t miss out by clicking on the Art Cart tab and following the links to purchase.