PDA

View Full Version : Limited Palette Mixing Strategies


Michael24
08-09-2004, 05:26 PM
OK before starting.....Stop the madness of confusing additive with substractive. It's too much to read and nobody is the wiser after reading it, just more frustrated.


A practical color mixing issue entirely in the SUBTRACTIVE realm.

Does order matter when mixing colors from a limited palette. I was experimenting with Kevin McPhearson limited palette of cad yellow, aliz. crimson, ultramarine blue, phthalo green and white.

In trying to make earth tones, I always seemed to be chasing around and never quite hitting the mark. I would mix red and blue and add a bit of yellow and get some kind of brownish thing. However if I mixed yellow and red and made a nice orange, Mixing a little bit of blue at a time would ramp the hue down to an acceptable burnt umber. If I did the same thing by mixing yellow and blue together then adding the red, it would not quite work out. Also I could not mix a decent beige (a yellowish dirt color) to save my life.

So the question stands, is order important when mixing limited palette colors? and How can I get a good range of earth tones before I give up and just add more tubes to my palette?

Thanks for the responses.

Michael Skalka, Nat. Gallery of Art. Wash. DC

turlogh
08-09-2004, 07:29 PM
OK before starting.....Stop the madness of confusing additive with substractive. It's too much to read and nobody is the wiser after reading it, just more frustrated.

A practical color mixing issue entirely in the SUBTRACTIVE realm.
Additive color does come in when you are trying to depict the mixture of additive light. For example, one occasionally sees a sky by a painter who doesn't know any better in which yellow grades into blue...with a mixed green in between because that's what they got when they mixed those two colors. Because the sky follows additive rather than subtractive color rules, they made the wrong color (more correct would be a neutral gray between the blue and yellow). So a painter may need to understand additive color even if it does not apply to the physical process of mixing the paint.

Does order matter when mixing colors from a limited palette. I was experimenting with Kevin McPhearson limited palette of cad yellow, aliz. crimson, ultramarine blue, phthalo green and white.
The physical properties of the paint shouldn't matter (there is no chemical change ocurring, just light being absorbed or reflected from small particles). There is also a psychological component to mixing color, however. The subject is incredibly complex because the number of possible hues (including saturation and value) that can be generated from even three pigments mixed together is vast. No one memorizes all the rules; it has to have an intuitive component. Under those circumstances, we learn processes for getting from one color to a different color. Mixing up the order that we have learned can be very confusing.

That said, I personally use lots of earth colors. I know I can approximate them by mixing bright primaries in the right combinations, but it just isn't worth the aggravation.

Patrick1
08-09-2004, 08:43 PM
Regarding mixing earth tones, I usually use burnt sienna or burnt umber as my earth colour 'anchor' and use that as a basis for mixing other earthy colours. But I decided to to try mixing my own earths from a limited palette of quin. rose, a middle yellow which looks like hansa yellow medium PY73, and phthalo blue GS.

It was a lot tougher than I thought. The best way seems to be to first mix up the hue using red/rose/magenta + yellow, (or possibly red + blue if you want a maroon-like colour) and mix well. I find the actual hue of browns is often redder (less yellow) than it might look. Then using a clean brush, mix up a small, seperate batch the mixing complement to that hue, mix it well. Using another clean brush, add the complement to the original mix in small increments. Don't add too much or you might overshoot and have to start over again.

By now, you might notice a hue shift away from what you wanted. It might be either too greenish (often the case) or too reddish. If it's too greenish, incrementally add tiny touches of red/magenta. If it's too reddish, mix up a small seperate batch of your own green and add tiny touches of it to your mix to bring the hue in line. Keep on adding small amounts of colours to get closer to the target. You might have to add white, and this might shift the hue. If it does, add small amounts of whatever colour is necessary to bring it closer to the target colour.

I found that small amounts of residual paint hidden in the brush can greatly mess up the mix (especially phthalo blue...which has a nasty propensity of turning many mixes an unwanted greenish hue) so that's why I like to use a seperate brush for each batch I mix. And when I use phthalo blue, I use it very sparingly in mixes...start with the other colour and add the phthalo in tiny increments at a time.

That's how me does it.

These are my imitation earth colours I mixed from rose, yellow, and phthalo blue GS. I should've added small amounts of white into the burnt sienna and violet oxide.

Michael24
08-09-2004, 10:08 PM
Thanks Patrick.

It sometimes feels like trying to fly a plane in a video game... a little too much to the right or left and you crash. Same with color mixing using a limited palette and especially with colors that are not balanced in terms of tinting strength.

I was initially wondering if color mixing followed this hypothesis: When two colorants are mixed, the union of the two optically make it MORE or LESS difficult for a third color to join the mixture. My original example: If yellow and red are mixed together, then making a dark brown is possible because the orange union of colorants with red and yellow pigment particles fit together in a way that attracts (or in some cases inhibit) blue or another pigment from joining physically with the two that are already combined. So that mixing order makes a difference. I know it sounds a bit wacky, but the paint chemists I converse with on occasion talk about finding the right number of times they must grind a color through a roller mill to attain the correct hue. It has to do with the physical properties of the pigment particles and how they accept oil and other additives. Why not with hand mixed pigments using brushes or a knife, both, which in comparison to a roller mill, are crude instruments for mixing paint.

It would be interesting to do an experiment. (the little gears are turning now) Using some kind of device like a syringe pump, put out precisely know quantities of paint on a very non-absorptive surface and mix together with a device that creates a consistent amalgamation. Change the order of the introduction of the pigments and see if they change spectrally. I will try a non-scientific, down and dirty version to see if any of this is valid.

In all, I do agree with you. It should make no difference what order the pigments are introduced as long as the proportions are the same from batch to batch. Also agree, I will need to practice more and perhaps add some vital earth colors. I am trying to wean myself off of the 20 colors I use now.

Thanks for sharing.

Michael Skalka

Einion
08-10-2004, 01:16 AM
Hi Michael, purely on a technical level, if I can call it that, colour mixing is completely commutative - that is it doesn't matter what order you mix ochre, red and white together for a skintone; as long as the proportions are equal the results will be the same. But on a practical level on the palette the order in which you mix can indeed make a lot of difference.

I know just the kind of thing you mean with mixing an umber, in a previous discussion that touched on using a primary palette I mentioned that I had found myself mixing some colours as halfway points to further mixes. You can work without doing this certainly, it's just easier to have an orange ready that you can mix with the phthalo blue, a green ready to add magenta to and so on; you're basically following the practice you'd normally use in painting, starting with high-chroma colour and adding the complement to neutralise. With regard to mixing earths by hand this highlights the value of knowing the hue of a given colour from reflectance readings if you have difficulty in 'reading' hue when the chroma is low.

Further to the skintone example for a midtone I often mix an orange from the Yellow Ochre and Cad Red Light I generally use, mix in the white to about the right value and then add Cerulean Blue incrementally as a neutraliser. On a theoretical level one of the things I like about flesh mixes is that you can think of the neutralising process in more than one way - the blue and ochre making a green which neutralises the red, or the red and ochre making orange which is a rough complement of the blue.

Back to your palette, because of the very high tinting strength of Phthalo Green (blue shade or yellow shade by the way?) compared to the other colours I would be very cautious when adding it, it's so easy to overwhelm a mix! For a beige I would mix an orange, raise the value with white and then add in the Ultramarine, that's the process I've used most successfully for this sort of thing in the past. For a Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber simulation I would probably mix a ready amount of the green and blue together as the shift in hue and added transparency would help achieve both I think. For the first mix an orange and then neutralise, for the second mix an orange-red and then neutralise. For a Raw Umber simulation you'll need to start with a yellow just a little towards orange and then I think add the Ultramarine alone and see how it goes; I would probably add a smidge of white too since I like RU not to be as dark in value as BU.

By the way, have you tried mixing a cyan from Ultramarine, a little Phthalo Green and a touch of white? Quite nice I think.

Einion

Dharma_bum
08-10-2004, 02:03 AM
This may be just rephrasing what Einion said, but I think that the problem has to do with the varying tinting strength of the pigments. They are easier to mix when approximately equal, because you can sneak up on the desired color. When adding a very high stregth pigment, you can overshoot the color without even realizing you went past it. I have been playing around with that palette, finding that with enough time I can eventually get pretty close to what I want, but with plein air I just spend too much time mixing, so am now adding a few modifiers. It has been a useful experiement though.

Dan

WFMartin
08-10-2004, 03:15 AM
Michael24,

There are only 6 colors in the world, ;) and they are cyan, magenta, yellow, red, blue, and green. Every other color is some derivative of one of those 6 colors. Cyan, magenta, and yellow are the primaries, and red, blue, and green, are mixtures of the three primaries.

What about brown, you may ask. Brown is "red" at a reduced brightness level.

What about chartreuse? It is a yellowish, grayed, green.

What is "Pink"? Pink is red, at a lighter brightness level.

You get the idea, I'm sure.

You're trying to mix a sort of burnt umber, which is a dark version of a warm yellow. Whatever hue is the most prevalent in any color (by guess) is the primary with which you should be starting--in this case, yellow. Next, add magenta, to warm your yellow. Last, add a tiny bit of the "graying" component, which in this case is the cyan. This concept you seem to have discovered on your own. Well, it's true

In mixing colors such as burnt umber, or burnt sienna, or raw sienna, you need to work with primaries, and not a bunch of other colors which are mixes themselves. Even if you select tubes of earth-type pigments which are single pigments, that doesn't make them "primaries". They represent a "mix" of the primary COLORS, even if they are truly made from a single pigment.

In any mix, there are two main primaries composing the secondary, of which there are only three, red, green, and blue (or violet if you prefer that nomenclature). The remaining primary (whatever it is) is the complement you need to add to "dirty", "darken", "neutralize" "gray" your color.

By the way, I am a firm believer that color only behaves by one particular set of rules, just as gravity does. I once taught a semester college course in color theory and application, and never ONCE mentioned either "additive" or "subtractive" in that course. You don't need to differentiate between the two to understand how color behaves.

Once you understand which colors are absorbed and which colors are reflected (or transmitted) by each primary color of pigment, you can understand the behavior of all color, whether it be contained in light or pigment.

In a previous post, here, Turlogh made reference to mixtures of colors in a sky, and he is absolutely correct in his assessment of the condition it takes to make "green" in the sky or "neutral" in the sky. But, I can explain it without ever using the terms "additive" or "subtractive". Primary colors of light, and colored objects that light falls on can be easily explained using one set of rules. Those rules simply involve what colors get absorbed and what colors get reflected (or transmitted). Too long a tutorial to do here, though.

Your best colors to use for the type of mixing you're trying to do? For cyan, pick Winsor Blue Red Shade 706, for magenta, pick Winsor Newton Permanent Rose 502, for yellow, pick Winsor Newton Transparent Yellow 653. Bring money, as that yellow costs a bunch!

These may not be the absolute purest form of primaries you can get, but they'll mix anything that your paint inventory has for earth tones, I'll bet. Accompany those paints with a good white, as those suggested colors are extremely transparent, and require a degree of white to reveal the beautiful primary colors. Mix that yellow with that magenta, and cyan, and I guarantee you'll get the deepest, darkest neutral you can imagine. Artists are often advised to paint shadows transparently, are they not?.....well this combination will certainly accomplish that! Want your colors a little more opaque? Add white. It's just that simple. I painted a 9" x 12" oil for one of the "painting in primaries" project threads here, and you couldn't tell it from a painting done with 20 tube colors. Honest, it works.

Try it, you'll like it!

Bill

Einion
08-10-2004, 01:21 PM
...you can sneak up on the desired color.
I love that phrase :D


There are only 6 colors in the world, ;) and they are cyan, magenta, yellow, red, blue, and green. Every other color is some derivative of one of those 6 colors.
Realistically all colour is varied proportions of red, blue and green light. Cyan, magenta and yellow are merely a reflection (no pun intended!) of the human visual system in one perspective ;)

I am a firm believer that color only behaves by one particular set of rules, just as gravity does.
There are sound reasons to sometimes think in other ways about paint interactions because they are dirty, messy things that don't follow rules in a linear manner - the varied tints of a single-pigment orange and a mix of the same hue is a clear example of this. Just thinking of these two paints merely as colour and theorising how they will react when tinted does not predict the outcome with accuracy; even two single-pigment colours of the same hue don't react the same when mixed because their dominant hue, the masstone, is by no means their only colour characteristic.

I once taught a semester college course in color theory and application, and never ONCE mentioned either "additive" or "subtractive" in that course.
I know where you're going with this of course Bill but I personally have found it very beneficial to think of paint interactions as the process of sequential subtraction of the incident light; it's very simple to explain to others like this and I believe that people generally grasp it more easily this way.

You're trying to mix a sort of burnt umber, which is a dark version of a warm yellow.
Burnt Umber is usually more orange (http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/earthc.html) than this, especially the chocolate colour I favour, yum :)

With regard to pigment primary choices, the green shade of phthalo blue is far closer to cyan and Quin Magenta is far closer to the hue of magenta (and even then it's on the red side). As for the yellow, PY74 is not as transparent but its very high chroma and lower cost make it a very good alternative, superior in my book, as I'd want the added opacity in anything other that watercolours. I believe I mentioned before that W&N probably chose these specific paints to give better reds and oranges at the cost of violets (a sound decision given the scarcity of high-chroma violet in the real world) and the greens that PB15:1 will give are still more saturated than generally needed. At the time they didn't offer PR122 in oils but they do now, it should be interesting to see if they change their recommended triad at some point.

Einion

Michael24
08-10-2004, 01:33 PM
Einion: Thanks, you made me think of a fundamental issue. The idea of sneaking up on a color, odd as it sounds, is so true. This is especially the case when mixing ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson. It is really difficult to mix two dark colors together and determine what you have. At times you don't want to add white to see where you are going with the mixture of ultra. blue and alizarin. So you do need benchmark positions to allow small incremental changes to be evaluated as you adjust a color.

Dharma_bum: Yes, the relative intensities/concentrations are an issue. I am thinking to substitute viridian for the phthalo green. That might create a less intense mixing partner.

Bill: Thanks so much for your lengthy comments. I agree with your approach and the physics behind what you say. In reading your reply, I realize that the method you use requires a bit more thinking and subtle manipulation. It is not the far rougher method of needing an orange hue in a passage on a painting, pulling a dab of cadmium orange from your palette and perhaps lowering its intensity with some ultramarine blue or adding a bit of yellow to warm it further. With the limited palette, you have to make the orange, and then modify it accordingly.

I never determined by you posts if you paint outside. My problem with a limited palette is time. Especially, outside, I seem to have to spend a great deal of time mixing colors to get things right. I am always struggling with trying to get the landscape colors, especially greens and earth tones to appear to be lit by the same quality of light.

Example: I lay down some dark greens for trees and go back to make middle and highlights where the sun is striking the branches. Some times my addition of cad. yellow light to green just does not hit the mark. Its looks too yellow. Add some white, too pale or worse yet, too cool and I wind up with yellow green-mid tones and mint green highlights. It is not so much that the values are wrong, its that the hue is unbalanced and does not capture the light conditions that I am seeing.

It may be that I have not explored my colors well enought to know what to do to fix this problem. Perhaps a cmy palette is well worth the mental/physical effort because it forces tight control. It is like I am stuck on trying to find a color that I can mix with everything else that will create a harmonious lighting relationship between elements in my pictures.

If anyone has any tips, I would be most grateful...

Michael Skalka, Nat. Gallery of Art, Wash. DC

WFMartin
08-10-2004, 05:21 PM
Michael,

Please don't misunderstand my intentions. Just because I am capable of achieving what I believe to be nearly every color you could buy in a tube, by mixing primaries, doesn't mean that I would necessarily do that, nor would I recommend it to anyone else, ESPECIALLY one who wishes to paint en pleine aire, where speed is of the utmost consideration. The last thing I would ever do is to mix a burnt sienna color, when there is a tube of it within my grasp!

Earth colors and convenience colors are certainly the way to go for quick application and convenience. I use them, and so should everyone else for sensible, practical application in oil painting.

But, when asked the question regarding what colors to select if you were only going to use three, my choice is always the primaries. If you are going for some artistic "effect" piece, made by using a blue and a couple of earth colors, then by all means do it. If, however, you're goal is to reproduce as many colors as possible with only three, there is only one logical answer, and that is to use the primaries.

BTW, Einion is probably correct in that there are perhaps "better" versions of Cyan and Magenta than those I mentioned. If that's the case, then by all means use them instead of the ones I mentioned. I am a firm believer that in using primary colors, one is better equipped to produce every color imaginable on a painted piece of art, and that's what it's all about. The colors that I recommended were simply recommended to me for that "paint with primaries" thread awhile ago, and do not necessarily represent what are the purest form of primaries available. I used them for that project because I felt they fairly well represented the primaries, but there certainly may be others far better in hue and purity than those, I'll be the first to admit.

Bill

Marc Sabatella
08-12-2004, 06:43 PM
I rather doubt the order colors are mixed in really matters , *if* you have the relative amounts correct. But it is definitely true that it is easier to do this if you do it in the "right" order.

The basic principle I'd go with is this: when you are mixing a lot of something with a little of something else, start with the color you will use larger quantity and add the tiniest bit of the other to it. Otherwise, you are likely to start with too much of the latter color.

For instance, if you want an off-white blue, start with a good sized hunk of white, and just add the tiniest fleck of blue. If you start with blue, you'll almost always start with too much, and you'll need a whole tube of white to get it the right value.

The specific application of this principle to a limited palette is this: if you are mixing a dull color that you know will come from three "primaries", start with the two primaries that come closes to the right hue, then use just a touch of the third to tone down the intensity.

Another useful thing to keep in mind: most whites tends to cool most colors. So get the value more or less right before adjusting hue or intensity. No sense mixing the perfect umber but have it be too dark, then add white only to see your color move too far toward a bluish-gray.

JamieWG
08-12-2004, 07:55 PM
I was experimenting with Kevin McPhearson limited palette of cad yellow, aliz. crimson, ultramarine blue, phthalo green and white.

.......... How can I get a good range of earth tones before I give up and just add more tubes to my palette?


Michael, consider the source! Mixing earth tones is not KM's forte, nor does his palette lend itself to doing that with ease. I think you're in for a tough ride with those colors, considering your particular taste in style/color for your own work. (Am I wrong about that?)

Perhaps a cmy palette is well worth the mental/physical effort because it forces tight control. It is like I am stuck on trying to find a color that I can mix with everything else that will create a harmonious lighting relationship between elements in my pictures.

If anyone has any tips, I would be most grateful...

Michael, what about trying the limited palette that Scott Christensen uses (and Marc Hanson too), and then use that as a basis for determining what additional colors you would need to satisfy your own aesthetic sense? He uses:
French Ultramarine or Ultramarine Deep
Cad Yellow Lemon
Rembrandt Permanent Red Medium (blend of two pyrrole reds, or you could try substituting a napthol)
TiO2

I eventually added cad yellow deep (for late afternoon scenes) and trans red oxide (for warmer darks) to that combination and I'm very happy with it for a landscape palette.

You'll find that with the cad lemon instead of a more mid-yellow, you won't need the phthalo green to pump up the greens. I think you'll find this RYB palette mixes believable colors and handles very easily. 'Interested in hearing more about your mixing/color adventures, dilemmas and discoveries.

Bill, I painted for a long time with a CMY palette, and added in some secondaries too (cad orange and diox), but it was a mixing nightmare. Yes, it can give the widest possible colors, but to produce believable colors it requires an enormous amount of mixing---far more than is possible on a plein air race against the sun, IMO.

Jamie

Richard Saylor
08-12-2004, 09:53 PM
I agree with Jamie, CMY is a hassle to use for landscapes. RYB is the way to go, with lemon yellow, ultramarine blue, and red. In acrylics I'm finding Golden's Quinacridone Red to work well, although it may be too cool for some. It's actually a rose red, PV19. Makes great violets with UB, and lemon yellow warms it up very nicely for colors in the red to yellow hue sector.

Michael24
08-12-2004, 10:45 PM
Thanks for the input. I will try these limited palette combinations.

However, the stupid question I have still vexes me, especially in light of your suggestion to use cad. lemon.

I find that cad lemon, cad yel. light and really all the yellows never seem to capture the light I am trying to paint. As I said before, they always seem to just look too yellow, not light natural light. Sometime, I get close with cad yel mixed into a green to capture sunlight on leaves in a middle tone and then I add a bit of white to make intense highlights and then the mixture looks too cool. So I get a tree with dark sap green shade, middle tone cad yellow and blue with a lot of yellow to lighten it and almost lime green cool by the addition of white to the yellow-green mixture.

I just can't seem to get the quality of the light or the balance right. Any suggestions?

Richard Saylor
08-12-2004, 11:34 PM
I just can't seem to get the quality of the light or the balance right. Any suggestions?
This is probably impractical for plein air, but yellow glazes should do the trick, preferably with transparent pigments, not cadmium.

coh
08-13-2004, 04:51 PM
I've been following this discussion with interest. Michael, I've been running
into the same problem with those bright (highlight-type) greens. I've been
using the ultramarine/cad lemon/med red/titan white palette. I was thinking
it was me, but maybe this is just a limitation of this set of colors. Then
again, I've seen others produce believable greens with this type of
palette so maybe it just requires more practice. Perhaps the issue is the
colors that we are using to surround what should be the bright greens,
maybe we need to be thinking about how to make the greens appear
brighter. I don't know.

In any case, keep us posted on how you resolve this. I'm pretty sure that
I'm going to add some colors to my palette but I can't decide which
ones. I think I'd like to avoid the thalo colors, but that thalo green (yellow
version) seems like it might be the best color for mixing really bright
sunlit greens. Also, thalo blue and cad lemon makes a really bright green.

I watched 2 of the Schmid videos the other day and he made bright sunlit
greens that looked convincing using viridian, cad lemon (and perhaps
touches of other yellows, he didn't always say what he was mixing)
and white. Then again, he's Schmid.

Chris

WFMartin
08-13-2004, 07:10 PM
I have seldom encountered a browser or buyer of art who ever gave a hoot regarding "how many colors of paint" the creator of the art had on his palette when he/she painted the piece of art in question.

Limited palettes seem to be for the purpose of several things,....and nearly ALL of them revolve around the artist, himself/herself, and to a decidedly LESSER extent around the resulting quality of the art produced by the use of that palette.

First, it is easier for an artist to squeeze out only a limited number of paint colors when starting up, and to clean up that limited number of paints upon completion of the session. That revolves around the artist.

Second, there is a great difference between "believeable" (or "convincing") colors, and the brightest possible colors. For "the brightest possible colors", one needs to use primaries, assuming you also wish to keep your palette "limited". For mixing "believeable" colors, (which are quite grayed, contaminated, dirtied with complements in comparison), one can still use a limited palette, but select the choice from earth and convenience colors. That makes it easer for the artist (he/she doesn't get as involved with difficult mixing, as it's basically "already done" for you), in the use of convenience colors.

Third, (and this is the one revolving more around the viewer than the artist) Perhaps you are attempting to create a work involving a particular color "scheme" or "harmony". This may involve secondary or tertiary colors, and could also involve using a limited palette. In this case it's for "effect" (the way it will look to a viewer), and not because of the ease of the artist.

Fourth, is for the rather dubious reason of, how shall I say,...."bragging rights?" This is strictly for one's own ego as a way of rather showing your skill and ability to create colors where there should be none of that color, and to have done it with a choice of only three or four quite unlikely colors. This is a sort of "Look what I can do, using these three colors." Again, it considers the average viewer of the art very little. The "average" viewer or prospective buyer couldn't really care any less how many colors of paint you may have had on your palette when you did the painting, but only whether they like the result or not.

So, my point here is that in my opinion, before embarking on a limited palette, an artist first needs to decide the precise reason for doing so. For example, I entered a project thread on this form in which we were required to paint using only three primaries, of cyan, magenta, and yellow. I entered it eagerly, because as a "theorist", I truly felt that it was time I put my effort where my mouth was. Well, it worked quite well, and most were interested in following my progress. I did that painting for no other reason than for "bragging rights" in showing off my work to other artists. I have that same painting hanging in my house, and besides my wife and me, NOBODY ELSE who views the painting even knows (or cares) what it took to accomplish it. Whether I worked from 3 or 23 colors of paint doesn't seem to impress ANYONE. :rolleyes:

Before deciding on what colors to place on a limited palette, you first need to decide whether you need a limited palette at all. :D

Just my opinion.

Bill

Richard Saylor
08-13-2004, 07:54 PM
My web page of 3-color paintings is primarily for educational purposes: to show skeptics that a limited palette need not be dull and to show beginners (almost all of whom seem to be short of money for buying supplies) that they don't have to have every color in the catalog in order to paint colorful pictures.

I have no interest in bragging about what I can do with a limited palette. In fact, I freely admit that for me it is more than anything else a crutch to help me obtain color harmony. For this reason also, I do not necessarily select those CMY colors which yield the widest possible gamut.

WFMartin
08-13-2004, 08:16 PM
My web page of 3-color paintings is primarily for educational purposes: to show skeptics that a limited palette need not be dull and to show beginners (almost all of whom seem to be short of money for buying supplies) that they don't have to have every color in the catalog in order to paint colorful pictures.

I have no interest in bragging about what I can do with a limited palette. In fact, I freely admit that for me it is more than anything else a crutch to help me obtain color harmony. For this reason also, I do not necessarily select those CMY colors which yield the widest possible gamut.

Richard,
Yes, the "color harmony" direction is quite a legitimate reason for a limited palette. I agree. I think that was one of my points, as well. Also, the idea of suggesting a limited palette for beginners to save money in buying paints is truly a good reason, and it sort of goes hand in hand with the ease of squeezing out (and, subsequently, cleaning up) only a few paints, that I had mentioned.

Bill

Richard Saylor
08-13-2004, 11:44 PM
...Also, the idea of suggesting a limited palette for beginners to save money in buying paints is truly a good reason, and it sort of goes hand in hand with the ease of squeezing out (and, subsequently, cleaning up) only a few paints, that I had mentioned...
They also learn how to mix colors. I can still remember (from long ago) running out of green and not thinking that I could easily mix it from the yellow and blue on my palette.

WFMartin
08-14-2004, 12:28 AM
They also learn how to mix colors. I can still remember (from long ago) running out of green and not thinking that I could easily mix it from the yellow and blue on my palette.

Richard,

THAT one made me smile, buddy! :D :D

Bill

Einion
08-14-2004, 10:56 AM
The basic principle I'd go with is this: when you are mixing a lot of something with a little of something else, start with the color you will use larger quantity and add the tiniest bit of the other to it. Otherwise, you are likely to start with too much of the latter color.
I can still remember making exactly this mistake myself over 20 years ago when I learned this lesson the hard way :) There's no question that mixing is commutative so order isn't important except on a practical level.

Another useful thing to keep in mind: most whites tends to cool most colors.
Bill and I were talking about related points to this a short while ago. I really can't understand why this is still so commonly stated (Schmid even says so in one of his books apparently). You've put it here a lot more conditionally than one tends to see it but it's still not really a general rule in my experience.

By the standards of the warm/cool principle itself, adding white to cool colours would tend to warm them (since white includes the 'warm' light in higher proportion than the 'cool' colours with which you're mixing). So, as a general rule white cools warm colours and warms cool colours is much better. It's still only a generalisation because there are exceptions, but it is far more accurate than how it's usually stated.


I agree with Jamie, CMY is a hassle to use for landscapes. RYB is the way to go, with lemon yellow, ultramarine blue, and red.
There's a lot to be said for this. The green-biased yellow will offset the relatively dull greens that Ultramarine will tend to give and a middle red with the blue should provide mixed violets that will cover most needs. I would perhaps prefer to use a middle-of-the-road yellow with higher chroma and an opaque red for reasons of coverage (in oils or acrylic only) in which case expanding to a secondary palette wouldn't be a bad idea, but for three colours that provide a good gamut and ease mixing they're not bad at all.


I find that cad lemon, cad yel. light and really all the yellows never seem to capture the light I am trying to paint. As I said before, they always seem to just look too yellow, not light natural light... Any suggestions?
I think I know what you mean here. To minimise the problem I think it would be worthwhile to ready-mix a yellow specifically for this sort of use, as a halfway-point colour like those I mention above. But within a palette's gamut one has to live with certain limitations in what one can capture; certainly the correct hue is achievable here (as any intermediate hue is with almost all palettes) just not at the right saturation.


I've been running into the same problem with those bright (highlight-type) greens. I've been using the ultramarine/cad lemon/med red/titan white palette...
Hi Chris, if you're using only these colours it shouldn't be too hard to make believable greens. Just add a touch of red to a mix and bingo! there you go :)

I'm pretty sure that I'm going to add some colors to my palette but I can't decide which ones. I think I'd like to avoid the thalo colors, but that thalo green (yellow version) seems like it might be the best color for mixing really bright sunlit greens. Also, thalo blue and cad lemon makes a really bright green.
If you see the mixed greens from Cadmium Lemon and Ultramarine as too brilliant then I wouldn't imagine either phthalo green would be a good addition and as you say the greens mixed from phthalo blues and Cad Lemon are really intense; more than bright enough to satisfy most needs. If you want a single-pigment green that wouldn't be as hard to get along with then Viridian is a worthwhile choice as it is much lower in tinting strength and mixes using it have lower chroma.


I have seldom encountered a browser or buyer of art who ever gave a hoot regarding "how many colors of paint" the creator of the art had on his palette when he/she painted the piece of art in question.
I agree.

I think your summary of the reasons for a limited palette are good Bill. The point about achieving believable colour in context is certainly a major practical reason one would use a limiting limited palette: the oft-mentioned reason among artists about it helping with colour harmony is really only germane with a palette that actually restricts chroma.

Fourth, is for the rather dubious reason of, how shall I say,...."bragging rights?" .
That's certainly true in some cases! I'm currently painting using "ridiculous" primaries just to prove that they can work :D

Bragging rights might not be confined to the artist alone though, I'm sure the informed buyer of Chuck Close's work might use the 'you'll never believe how few colours the artist used on this' as a conversation piece!

Whether I worked from 3 or 23 colors of paint doesn't seem to impress ANYONE.
On a related point, it can be impossible to determine the palette used by a painter just from looking at the finished work, even for another experienced painter. If we take any really limited palette by today's standards, early renaissance for example, a good painter using only modern pigments could easily achieve the same colours by careful mixing - although it would require a lot more effort than using equivalent colours of course. This is the another crux of the limited palette argument, since all intermediate colours have to be mixed it requires a lot more effort from the artist; as long as this is accepted the advantages can outweigh the disadvantages. And to make it work well one has to really have a good handle on colour.

Einion

coh
08-14-2004, 12:42 PM
Einion wrote (in part)

If you see the mixed greens from Cadmium Lemon and Ultramarine as too brilliant...

No, actually I think the greens mixed from these 2 colors (plus the red)
are pretty good for most of what I "see", I don't think they're too brilliant. It's just that
I can't seem to make them work for the brightest sunlit greens. That
may be my problem more than the colors.

Viridian is tempting but to me it appears a little too bluish. That's why I'm
considering one of the thalo greens (or another blue which will expand the
range of mixed greens available to me). I've got all the colors and have done
color-chart studies so I think I just need to try some paintings with
various combinations and see how they work. Maybe I'll find out that
the thalo colors aren't as difficult to control as I've heard.

Incidentally, my reasons for using a limited palette at this time - I'm just
getting back into painting after several years (and wasn't too advanced at
that time) and thought it would be better to keep the number of variables
down. Thought the limitations would force me to look more carefully at
values and color mixing (which it has). Also saw some paintings done with
limited palettes and liked the harmonious appearance they often had. Finally,
I hoped that as I determined the limitations of the limited palette it would
be obvious which colors I should add to "fill in the gaps". Well, I see where
the gaps are but it's still not obvious what to add!

Chris

Pars
08-14-2004, 01:17 PM
Thanks for the input. I will try these limited palette combinations.

However, the stupid question I have still vexes me, especially in light of your suggestion to use cad. lemon.

I find that cad lemon, cad yel. light and really all the yellows never seem to capture the light I am trying to paint. As I said before, they always seem to just look too yellow, not light natural light. Sometime, I get close with cad yel mixed into a green to capture sunlight on leaves in a middle tone and then I add a bit of white to make intense highlights and then the mixture looks too cool. So I get a tree with dark sap green shade, middle tone cad yellow and blue with a lot of yellow to lighten it and almost lime green cool by the addition of white to the yellow-green mixture.

I just can't seem to get the quality of the light or the balance right. Any suggestions?

At the risk of coming into this conversation at the "tail" and "ignorant" end, I'm wondering which yellow would create the highlight affect you are looking for. Of all the colours on my never-ending palette, it is "yellow" that troubles me the most. I've lemon, hansa and others, but thus far one of the least referenced, "nickel titante, MG" comes the closest to highlight in watercolour at my reading.

What are others using?

And apology, I am rather new to posting at WC and this is my first in color theory/mixing. Hope I've not stepped out too far on the limb.

Zoe :)

Marc Sabatella
08-14-2004, 02:06 PM
A few observations in response to comments made here:

First, regarding mixing bright greens - I find that sunlit greens in landscape are often mixed quite well simply using way more yellow than you think you might need. Maybe toward the orange side if that is the overall color of light. With reference to the color harmony benefits of a limited palette, in landscape painting, I'm also a big fan of trying to keep a similar color sense in your light struck areas, as they are all being struck by the same color of light. This is one of those effects that I think one does well to exaggerate. In real life, we have all sorts of other cues to show tell us about light and shadow (more striking value differences than can be achieved in paint, for one). But in any case, I long ago decided to add phthalo green to my RYB palette, and while I don't use it much, it is practically indispensible when I do want it. I don't tend to use it for landscape greens per se, though - sky and water or man made objects, mostly, also to get more variety in darks.

I think the color harmony advantages of a limited palette cannot be overstated, but Bill's list of reasons to adopt a limited palette looks good overall. One that is missing, that I almost never hear mentioned as a reason for adopting a limited palette because everyone assumes the opposite, is that it greatly simplified mixing. If you've only got three colors on your palette, it is a simple matter to decide which need to go into a given mixture. The only issue is how much of each, and you learn this as you go.

Regarding the tendency of white to cool colors: I hedged in my statement because I've never done a really good experiment. But I see most oranges go toward red, and most greens go toward blue, as I lighten then with titatnium or zinc or a mixture. Those tend to be the colors I'm most often wanting as my lightest lights, so I'm most aware of it there. But I can easily believe there are colors that get warmer.

Richard Saylor
08-14-2004, 02:31 PM
I think your summary of the reasons for a limited palette are good Bill. The point about achieving believable colour in context is certainly a major practical reason one would use a limiting limited palette: the oft-mentioned reason among artists about it helping with colour harmony is really only germane with a palette that actually restricts chroma.
Limited palettes do restrict chroma. Maybe you meant hue. Anyhow, whatever the reason, I find it difficult to create color disharmony with a limited palette. Limited palettes (even CMY) are limiting.

LarrySeiler
08-15-2004, 12:24 AM
I don't know if it will help Michael...but here are a number of recent plein airs of mine...painted outdoors with intention to represent my authentic experience..AND YET...with a limited palette.

The palette is French Ultramarine blue, Cadmium Lemon Yellow, W&N Bright Red, Naples Yellow...and titanium white.

Wisconsin rural scenes...
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Aug-2004/532-532-colemanrural72.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Aug-2004/532-lilyhaystacks.jpg

Upper Michigan at my family's cabin...another to join my boat series...9"x 12" on linen, oil-
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Aug-2004/532-boat_july04endsession.jpg

here, a closeup...
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Aug-2004/532-boat_july04closeup.jpg

the town of Marquette in upper Michigan-
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Aug-2004/532-endmarquette_july04.jpg

You say Michael- I find that cad lemon, cad yel. light and really all the yellows never seem to capture the light I am trying to paint. As I said before, they always seem to just look too yellow, not light natural light.

For one thing the limited palette is...well, er umm...hey, LIMITED...and as such, it has to be judged in progress relative to the work coming together as a whole.

I find some moments frustrating. For instance, today I painted three plein airs at a plein air event. (I'd share, but the system I'm using at the moment does not have a floppy disk drive, so will have to wait till I get home.)

Recently...I began adding a few of my old split primary colors back to my palette ...but did not have them with today. I find that ultramarine blue does not always satisfy my desire to see just a bit more the blue I'd like in the sky. A touch of pthalo blue comes in nice for me for that. Just a bit more strength in my greens...and viridian is appreciated for that.

Having painted limited now for several months...even adding a few of my ole split primary pigs back...I will do so in reserve for the limited palette has taught me much about what strength there is in restraint and reserve.

The painting works out the illusion of projecting a working green and yellow because relatively the colors interwoven have a harmony, a color rhythm...and various other principles where because it holds together cohesively and works AS A PAINTING the viewing eye perceives what it needs to see to believe it.

ONe learns the power to manipulate the eye with this reserve.

Other yellows are too orangie or warm. I need the coolness of lemon yellow..

For one...I have chosen W&N's Bright Red over say Rembrandt's Permanent Red, because in my opinion that red and many others leans too much to the orange side. I avoid the alizarin and others that hint at some violet in it.

The W&N Bright Red (IMHO) is a red that is not perceived with an orange side, and I see no violet nature to it. IT seems as close to red as I can see. Add a bit of cadmium lemon yellow to it...I get my orange reds no problem.

I don't need a cadmium yellow medium (which would be too warm) to get those warm reds or leaning to orange...for I get that just fine with the lemon yellow. Besides...just a touch of Bright Red to Lemon Yellow and I can very closely simulate a cadmium yellow medium color.

Without the cool lemon yellow...that is, with a warmer yellow...I would lose the power of the yellow to make decent greens with the ultramarine blue. A yellow leaning a bit toward the orange or warmer yellow begins to get too close to a complement of blue. It de-intensifies or somewhat deadens as a neutral.

At the same time the coolness of the lemon yellow then mixed with white (also a cool color) more naturally takes on that character of yellows in the midground that begin to cool in temperature.

I use my Naples Yellow to help get unique variations of greens, mixing in at times the lemon yellow. Naples Yellow and French Ultramarine Blue also make interesting blues and greens for distance effect.

One learns in time (becoming more intuitive) that an adjacent color placed near an area of the lemon yellow can change the character of the yellow to appear differently.

Someone around here not long ago said in a condescending manner that the limited palette was okay for beginners...but, I have found having developed first a greater knowledge of mixing color with a fuller palette...that the limited palette is ever as much a challenge. I think it has helped me better understand the capabilities of color, brought back more sensitivity and respect for the place values have...and that not much of additional pigments are needed.

The really rich greens can be made with this palette...and as green goes back, it cools quickly anyway.

This palette is built for subtleties in nature...and it is otherwise with a full palette too easy to respond to those visual voices that most obviously shout.

with the full palette you go from painting one thing that shouts to another and another, and try and pull all together. With this palette you set the stage for drama using more discrimination for that which will command attention. If I'm making any sense....

take care

Larry

LarrySeiler
08-15-2004, 08:22 AM
woke up this morning...and think I could fall back to sleep? Naw...I had this lemon yellow thing on my mind, so best to empty the mind...hahaha...

I respect the members here in color theory...but admittedly much of the talk is over my head. PB15 or whatever that is...stuff like that makes little painter's sense to me.

What is important to me in the field...(outdoors where the moment demands a response and hesitation which if lost amounts to lost light and lost opportunity), is to think in terms of warm and cool color based on what I'm seeing.

True a limited palette is more limiting yet relative still...

You'll notice Michael how my thinking works in the above post when I see how the warmth of cadmium yellow medium (being thus that closer to blue's complement- orange than say the cadmium lemon yellow would be) translates to give me an instant understanding how a green would be more muted.

If I want a more neutral green...I'd rather have to add just a touch of the red pigment to gray the green down or take some of its chroma down than get that effect from my yellow.

Depth, dealing with light outdoors...it so much evolves around warm and cool, light and dark...and I think if you look at a pigment and begin to think of it in more those terms, how and why the limited palette (or any palette outdoors) might work will be easier to understand and commit to intuition.

By "intuition" I mean...you wrestle thru a number of paintings outdoors initially to acquire that knowledge and sense of it...but as it becomes second nature, as you can trust your instincts or intuition you then develop an empowerment to lock horns with the moment and not lose the drama that inspired you to paint inspite of what changes may suddenly come of the light.

Larry
(ahhh...think my mind's poured out now)

Einion
08-15-2004, 01:48 PM
No, actually I think the greens mixed from these 2 colors (plus the red) are pretty good for most of what I "see", I don't think they're too brilliant. It's just that I can't seem to make them work for the brightest sunlit greens. That may be my problem more than the colors.
Oops, sorry Chris I read what you said the wrong way. You're having trouble mixing those 'highlight-type' greens yes? I thought you meant that's what you were getting :o Limited brilliance is a feature of limited palettes generally so no, it's not just you.

Finally, I hoped that as I determined the limitations of the limited palette it would be obvious which colors I should add to "fill in the gaps". Well, I see where the gaps are but it's still not obvious what to add!
Don't despair, figuring out this sort of thing isn't as obvious as one might think, some people struggle literally for years with their palette choices.

Looking at the palette you're using now the simplest solution purely in terms of colour is to expand it to a secondary palette as I mention above; you'll still have to live with limited variation in opacity but it would plug the colour gaps most successfully (keeping to the principle of colours evenly spread around the wheel being the most useful). I would suggest the green and the orange are the most valuable but to give better mixes in the crimson/deep red end a violet or magenta wouldn't be useless. FWIW Quinacridone Violet, Cadmium Orange and Phthalo Green BS would be my choices.


Limited palettes do restrict chroma. Maybe you meant hue.
Hi Richard, nope, I meant chroma :)

Any workable primary set has no limit as to the hues it can mix; RYB triads inherently limit chroma (some very much so) and lowering chroma is one of the easiest ways to achieve colour harmony.

Einion

Richard Saylor
08-15-2004, 07:23 PM
Example: I lay down some dark greens for trees and go back to make middle and highlights where the sun is striking the branches. Some times my addition of cad. yellow light to green just does not hit the mark. Its looks too yellow. Add some white, too pale or worse yet, too cool and I wind up with yellow green-mid tones and mint green highlights. It is not so much that the values are wrong, its that the hue is unbalanced and does not capture the light conditions that I am seeing.
I recently saw a strong recommendation that cad yellow + ivory or lamp black be used for foliage highlights. (It was from a trustworty source but most definitely not from within the WC cummunity, :evil: !) I think it's worth a try. Black brings down the chroma of the yellow quite a bit, and the green produced is really very nice.

Michael24
08-15-2004, 09:55 PM
I recently saw a strong recommendation that cad yellow + ivory or lamp black be used for foliage highlights. (It was from a trustworty source but most definitely not from within the WC cummunity, :evil: !) I think it's worth a try. Black brings down the chroma of the yellow quite a bit, and the green produced is really very nice.

Thanks Richard: I have tried that combination before. I do like the greens that cad yellow and black make. However, to me they really seem to be out of harmony with the greens that I can make with cad yellow light and ultramarine blue.

I do go back to cad yellow and black at times when a scene feels like it needs this combination. It tend to make more olive hues. They look truer to nature than the phthalo combinations which if not ramped down can appear too high in chroma to be foliage in natural light.

Thanks again.

Michael Skalka

Michael24
08-15-2004, 10:23 PM
woke up this morning...and think I could fall back to sleep? Naw...I had this lemon yellow thing on my mind, so best to empty the mind...hahaha...



Gosh Larry, I did not post these questions for your to loose sleep over!!! Thanks for pouring out your thoughts anyway.


I respect the members here in color theory...but admittedly much of the talk is over my head. PB15 or whatever that is...stuff like that makes little painter's sense to me.




It does get complicated if you want to dive into the science of color. However, artists who experiment and mix color know much of what science can explain from a practical viewpoint. Take ultramarine blue. Loved by many and hated by others, it get a bad rap because when mixing it with cad yellow light it make a dull muted green. (This is where a little science is helpful.) When you look at ultramarine blue's spectrum, it has so much red reflectance that any green made with it and yellow will be pre-muted so to speak.


What is important to me in the field...(outdoors where the moment demands a response and hesitation which if lost amounts to lost light and lost opportunity), is to think in terms of warm and cool color based on what I'm seeing.

True a limited palette is more limiting yet relative still...

You'll notice Michael how my thinking works in the above post when I see how the warmth of cadmium yellow medium (being thus that closer to blue's complement- orange than say the cadmium lemon yellow would be) translates to give me an instant understanding how a green would be more muted.

If I want a more neutral green...I'd rather have to add just a touch of the red pigment to gray the green down or take some of its chroma down than get that effect from my yellow.



Thanks, yes I see how you are working with these colors.


Depth, dealing with light outdoors...it so much evolves around warm and cool, light and dark...and I think if you look at a pigment and begin to think of it in more those terms, how and why the limited palette (or any palette outdoors) might work will be easier to understand and commit to intuition.

By "intuition" I mean...you wrestle thru a number of paintings outdoors initially to acquire that knowledge and sense of it...but as it becomes second nature, as you can trust your instincts or intuition you then develop an empowerment to lock horns with the moment and not lose the drama that inspired you to paint inspite of what changes may suddenly come of the light.

Larry
(ahhh...think my mind's poured out now)

Thanks again Larry. With your assistance I think that my solution lies in digging deep into understanding what will happen when I mix colors, how to make corrections when colors are off a bit and to create a relative working environment of harmonious color relationships. I see this in your painting examples. Correct me if I am wrong, but in one of the hay roll paintings, you seem to peg your highlight to Naples Yellow with a touch of white added. Then everything stems from the color temperature and appearance of sunlight your created to fit all the other hue temperatures around that Naples Yellow colorant. Yes?

Whoever said that painting was easy? I think it is one of the hardest things that I have ever done.

Thanks again for sharing your paintings.

Michael Skalka

Richard Saylor
08-16-2004, 12:16 AM
I respect the members here in color theory...but admittedly much of the talk is over my head. PB15 or whatever that is...stuff like that makes little painter's sense to me.
Larry, with all due respect, your use of terms like "complement" and "chroma" belie your disdain of the technical aspects of color theory. I'll bet you know exactly what PB15 is. Maybe this stuff doesn't help an experienced artist like yourself, but maybe it can be of some value to those of us who are still struggling with the basics.

LarrySeiler
08-16-2004, 11:54 AM
Larry, with all due respect, your use of terms like "complement" and "chroma" belie your disdain of the technical aspects of color theory. I'll bet you know exactly what PB15 is. Maybe this stuff doesn't help an experienced artist like yourself, but maybe it can be of some value to those of us who are still struggling with the basics.

no...I am not lying...nor gesting for sport to boost an egotiscal need.

I have never personally bothered to read the content labels of pigments. I have no clue what PB15 is...

I say this, transparently.... risking all total disregard of my deserving to be considered a professional by you fine people.

Perhaps it will make some wonder how it is that a person can be ignorant of such and yet paint decent pictures (if some might agree that they are...that is for you to decide). I try some paints. If I don't like what I see...I try something else. All is based on results, and what I see. Trusting my eyes.

Jamie suggested I try French Ultramarine Blue rather than just Ultramarine blue citing it is darker and more opaque. "Darker and more opaque"...THAT I understood...and yes, I love the stuff. I don't know the numbers, don't know technically why. It serves what I see and how I work.

I am suggesting...that a simpleton can yet have their own way of viewing color...and a color theory that works for them that can rest, can breathe a sigh of relief to be understood as simply as warm and cool variants, from a basic understanding of color wheel models.

Richard, sometimes I think you've got a stick under the skin toward me...believing my intentions and interests to be contentious, but they are not. I like to laugh and enjoy life much more, and more laid back than perhaps you may think.

I have the deepest respect and regards for those of you that have what I think is a higher knowledge concerning pigment ratios, names..numbers and all that stuff. AT the same time...I'm not sure my work lacks in superiority for not having this knowledge.

I value color theory...but, mine is as I said more that of a simpleton, but then conveniently I'll have something to say of value to other simpletons like myself. Those of you with this deeper pigment understanding are needed and valuable so that someone around here has something of value to say to other professionals who think alike.

Perhaps I've just been lucky to get results that I get...but then I tend to think if I get consistently lucky..then perhaps other simpletons might get lucky like I have following what I've done.

Not to make light of what you guys have shared with Michael...(all probably good stuff, but it is over my head)...but in reading over his sharing honestly his frustration, my intent was to at least give testimony or witness to how and why the limited palette works for me; how in my limited simpleton way of seeing warm and cools he might glean something to help him.

Maybe not...but I valued him and everyone here enough to try.

Now...I hope I have done my very best to address my lowered stature here so that in the future my attempts to share are not considered to be crass or coy. I was just trying to help...

peace

Larry

LarrySeiler
08-16-2004, 12:00 PM
one more thought...

I have played guitar since 1970...still playing in a band, still performing solo. I play blues...played hard rockn' metal in the big hair 80's era. Been on a few albums, and have a couple cd's out.

Yet...I do not read music. I don't understand the talk. It goes over my head. Just give me a guitar and I'll play. Like a simpleton. Hand me paints...and let's see what I can do with them.

I'll admit that my growth is limited with the guitar not being able to commit myself to learning to read music. Trying to learn to read music is too frustrating for me, and frustration is not why I've ever had interest to play the instrument.

I mean no disrespect to offer suggestions...but perhaps others in not getting it might yet find hope to not feel they have to abandon their efforts. When some see the likes of me managin' perhaps they might still sense hope in not quite yet giving up. (I don't mean to suggest this describes Michael...but there are always lurkers that read on to find some hope perhaps).

I've been told what can't be done...ought not to be done, what should be done and so forth. I'm just too stubborn to believe what I'm told can't be done if I want to do it badly enough.

peace

Larry

WFMartin
08-16-2004, 01:16 PM
Larry, I'm truly with you on this point. I may consider myself to be a color "theorist", but never in my career, either in the litho trade or in oils or watercolors, have I ever found myself concerned with the material of which the color is composed. That aspect just never seemed to inspire my interest.

Combine that with the fact that you might open three tubes of PB15 from three different manufacturers, and discover you may just have three different colors. As they say, "Close, but no cigar!' While that alone may not make those identification numbers totally meaningless, it surely seems to render them not very worthy of much intensive, concentrated study.

Bill

Richard Saylor
08-16-2004, 02:35 PM
Larry, PB15 is Pigment Blue 15. It's just a Pthalo Blue pigment, that's all. Rocket science? Hardly.

Bill, PB15 is not the name of a color, it's the name of a pigment.

Richard Saylor
08-16-2004, 04:30 PM
Bill, there's another thing which can account for some of the differences in color between different brands of paint using PB15. There's also PB15:1, PB15:2, PB15:3, PB15:4, PB15:5, and PB15:6. Some manufacturers (notably W&N) use the designation PB15 to refer to any or all of these different pigments.

The problem is not always due to sloppy pigment designation, however. For example, PV19 is the pigment for colors ranging all the way from purple (like a grape color) to a cool red (red rose).

There's just no way to determine the color from the pigment. Color names don't help much either. Cadmium Yellow Light can range from a light middle yellow to a lemon yellow, depending on brand. However, that's no reason to ignore color names. :)

LarrySeiler
08-16-2004, 05:00 PM
However, that's no reason to ignore color names. :)


I don't ignore...

I use what works...and it works because it works. Basic physics...and if its not broken, why fix it?

So...the names, the jot and tittle are meaningless for me.

phthalo blue...sure, I get that...but I'm not to commit the need to memorize all the abbreviations, and to what end? Numbers..15:2 or 6..?? Well...just put some on a surface, let me spread it out and see what it looks like. Again, its come to where I trust my eyes and just know that what looks right will work right.

once one develops a palette that works...why twittle endlessly? The idea is to paint. From there, color theory for me is the relationship of how colors work in harmonious unifying manners that work cohesively to pull the painting together as a whole.

Its like my son letting me know there is a new gadget for my bow, one that just came out on the market and he insists I need to get. I look at my freezer full from last year...he and I harvesting seven deer between us...and wonder..what, "these deer are not dead enough?" or..."I need one more?"

Now...its interesting to read about all the bows out there, new technology and stuff and I can appreciate how that translates to pigments I suppose. But where it matters, such as in my tree stand...what I've been doing has worked just fine.

I suppose what I'm doing with my paintings has worked well.

If someone can show me most convincingly how this or that in my painting might be better with another pigment...sure, I'm obligated to pay attention.

I can always improve my color thinking...but that doesn't mean for me necessarily new or different pigments. It can mean a way of thinking about the relationships of those pigments. So...with that explanation, I don't think I've put anything on ignore...but more on, okay...how does this effect me?

I'm not speaking about why bother for everyone else. Just why for me? Just as I respect archers talking constantly about new stuff...that is their right. Me? I wanna shoot that bow.

Someone wants to know how I shoot the bow...I'll explain best I can.

Is it just me? Am I missing the boat? Is there another side to thinking about color theory that can do so in practical ways geared toward making a painting work cohesively that can have a place in the color theory forum that bypasses the numbers and ratios?

I talk about color theory all the time, but never PB15:2 or PB 15:4 and so forth. Can you imagine me in the classroom teaching high school kids introducing color theory gettin' into all that?

So I it is clear in my understanding, does that mean in your estimation I am incomplete whenever I speak of color theory or amiss not to mention such things?

To reiterate so that I'm not making enemies here...I do believe there is a place where the artists that think they need this for some reason indeed must. Perhaps it makes them better painters for having this sophisticated knowledge. Perhaps for good cause, it puts me in the position to be the topic for a good laugh and to be most pitied.

I'll assume then that there is greater proclivity and potential to do much more excellent work having such knowledge. For that those having this knowledge you should be grateful, glad and so forth. Be patient with those of us not there. Some of us just don't get it.

Larry

LarrySeiler
08-16-2004, 05:29 PM
btw...for those wondering why I'm defensive and going on...it was because it was presumed I was making coy jest and sport and "disdain" for the technological.

I have always demonstrated respect for artists and their interests to develop. I bear no disdain for this technical stuff as was suggested. IF it ends with results of excellence...kudos to one and all! Makes you happy...I'm happy.

If my simplistic way of seeing and doing a thing can help someone...fine...

peace, I'm outta here........

Larry

WFMartin
08-16-2004, 07:45 PM
Larry, PB15 is Pigment Blue 15. It's just a Pthalo Blue pigment, that's all. Rocket science? Hardly.

Bill, PB15 is not the name of a color, it's the name of a pigment.

Well, Richard, that doesn't make it more informative,....perhaps even a bit LESS informative, or at least a bit misleading. Two different tubes having the same PB15 on them, but being different in color pretty well indicates the identification number to be quite meaningless, in terms of exact color. As I may have mentioned before, it might indicate they are a "blue" color as opposed to a "yellow", but the average person could tell that 10 feet away, without the assist of the printed ID number.

By the way, these two PB15 colors do NOT have a .1, or a .2, or a .3, etc., as part of the ID number. They are BOTH indicated as being PB15, and nothing more.

One example is Winsor Newton Blue (Red Shade) 706, and the other is Grumbacher Thalo Blue. Both, I'm afraid, have the designation, PB15 on their label, and each is quite noticeably different in color.

All I'm saying, I guess, is that with this sort of discrepancy inherent in this sort of coding system, it brings it to the level of vague trivia. I would think that more artists would be far more interested in the exact color of a tube of paint than the exact ingredient of what it is composed.

I'll have to be honest with everyone, when others began pointing out to me these ID numbers on tubes of paint, I actually began to think I was missing out on some important information regarding the color of paints. Considering myself a bit of a color theorist, I began to feel I was missing something, but the deeper I investigated, the more I began to feel as Larry does. The fact is that those ID numbers have very little to do with what the color is. In fact, as Richard indicates, it deals with the kind of pigment of which it is made, and not the color.

I'll accept that the ID number indicates the type of pigment contained within the tube, but from either a strictly practical artist's or a color theorist's viewpoint, that information would seem to be quite useless, to me.

Bill

Richard Saylor
08-16-2004, 09:27 PM
I'll accept that the ID number indicates the type of pigment contained within the tube, but from either a strictly practical artist's or a color theorist's viewpoint, that information would seem to be quite useless, to me.
The color index name is just an additional little piece of information.

For example, it can tell you whether a tube of paint is a single pigment color or not (although sometimes they lie).

For painters who wish to avoid black, it can tell you whether a color contains any black.

In combination with the color name it can be useful. For example, I like PR122 magenta, but find PV19 magenta to be useless. The designation Quinacridone Magenta tells me nothing since they are both Quinacridones. I really can't afford to buy a useless tube of color, but I do like to try different brands now and them. Knowing the pigment increases the likelihood of my choosing a decent color.

Also, it can indicate whether the paint contains any fugitive pigments. This is especially important for watercolor, since the colors are so vulnerable to fading.

It is indeed a very poor indicator of color, just as the ingredients of a frozen pizza are a poor indicator of taste, but I still like to know what I'm buying whenever possible.

WFMartin
08-16-2004, 09:48 PM
Richard,

I read the "permanence rating" on paint tubes, quite often. That actually has a degree of meaning, I think. However, the day I discover it to be as ambiguous as the ID number, I'll probably begin ignoring that, as well. ;) Perhaps it, too, is undeserving of intense consideration, but as yet, I'm not sure. :confused:

Bill

Marc Sabatella
08-17-2004, 02:51 PM
phthalo blue...sure, I get that...but I'm not to commit the need to memorize all the abbreviations, and to what end? Numbers..15:2 or 6..?? Well...just put some on a surface, let me spread it out and see what it looks like. Again, its come to where I trust my eyes and just know that what looks right will work right.


Well, sure. But we aren't standing here around the same palette with the same tubes of paint to make those comparisons. If we want to talk about which tube of paint is closest to cyan in color, I can't squeeze out a line from a tube and tell someone to look at that. I have to tell him specifically which pigment it is. Calling it "phthalo blue" gets more to the point, but is still somewhat problematic. For one thing, there are different shades of this pigment name, so I'd have to be sure to specify the green shade, not the red shade. And I'd have to depend on the paint manufacturer to name his color consistenly with that, which doesn't always happen.

Consider, I believe you mention using a color by some manufacturer or other called "Bright Red". I can assure you there is no pigment by that name, but I'd be willing to bet more than one manufacturer has seen fit to call one of their colors by this name. How am I to know if W&N's "Bright Red" is the same as, say, Utrecht's? For that matter, I am fairly certain W&N *changed* the pigment used in "Bright Red" recently. One day you might go to the store, buy a tube, and find it looks different than the tube you bought a couple of months ago. Maybe you liked the old one better. How do you find the equivalent color from another manufacturer? Answer: by pigment number.

Anyhow, none of this is to say there is any real need to go around *memorizing* pigment numbers, or obsessing about them in any way. Just that in a discussion of specific colors to use in palettes, pigment numbers are the best bottom line, and criticizing people for trying to be precise seems off base. Using the colloquial names for these pigments is usually a fine substitute when we are reasonably sure everyone will name their paints accordingly. Eg, virtually everyone produces a paint called "Ultramarine Blue" from the same pigment. Of course, even then, some call paint made this same exact pigment "French Ultramarine", leading to confusion among artists wondering what the differences are. And if you are trying to tell someone the benefits of whatever "Bright Red" you are using, it would be most helpful to supplement this information with the specific pigment so others who may prefer other brands can find something similar.


once one develops a palette that works...why twittle endlessly?


How long have you been painting, and how recently did you make the last change to your regular working palette? :-)


I'm not speaking about why bother for everyone else. Just why for me? Just as I respect archers talking constantly about new stuff...that is their right. Me? I wanna shoot that bow.


Fine. But then it seems a bit out of line to interrupt a discussion among people who *are* in the market for new bows by saying, "what difference does it make, since *I* already have a bow I like".


Is there another side to thinking about color theory that can do so in practical ways geared toward making a painting work cohesively that can have a place in the color theory forum that bypasses the numbers and ratios?


Yes, although some would say you are really talking about issues of color "harmony" or some such term, something a bit distinct from color "theory". Still, given there is no separate forum for such topics, this is obviously the right place for both types of discussions, it would seem to me.

LarrySeiler
08-17-2004, 07:52 PM
Yes, although some would say you are really talking about issues of color "harmony" or some such term, something a bit distinct from color "theory". Still, given there is no separate forum for such topics, this is obviously the right place for both types of discussions, it would seem to me.

absolutely it is Marc...

as I said...I felt as though my motives were in question by Richard thinking I was being coy and not honest in my simplistic post on warm and cool and not getting all the talk of pigment stuff.

Yes...absolutely, there needs to be this degree of deeper stuff for everyone, as well as the benefit of the doubt for others saying they are not intimately familiar with such. I guess what that means is...someone might be accomplished without such knowledge. Certainly it can't hurt to know as much as is possible. My life just hasn't presented the need for such, and I'm too busy with other things to believe it is essential. (again..essential for me ). Gotta go...time to eat...

Larry

Richard Saylor
08-17-2004, 08:22 PM
It's all my fault.

LarrySeiler
08-17-2004, 08:38 PM
...and mine as well.

I don't think I do this...but perhaps I have been perceived as not being straight forward and honest. If that perception is out there...it would be no surprise your take on what I said, Richard. I apologize for that.

Its all water off a duck's back now...so, life goes on.


Larry

Marc Hanson
08-17-2004, 10:26 PM
Reading this thread reminds me of being in Ground School before my first flight lessons. Theory, facts, statistics, scientific principles....In the end it only made me more knowledgeable, it didn't help the airplane stay in the air, or make it go where I wanted it to. Knowing the particular grade of aluminum that composed the structure didn't make me feel more confident or skilled. The aluminum was only one component to my staying alive. How to use that aluminum would make more of a difference to me and my passengers in the long run. I learned that, according to most, it was Bernoulli's law that kept the wings flying. But if I didn't use the more 'practical' experience of actual flying, I could easily violate that law and cause ''bad things'' (according to my instructor) to happen.

What I did learn with more experience is that it takes intuition, knowledge and art to be a good pilot. All of the 'theory' and 100%'s on flight tests didn't help when the first big unpredicted thunderstorm loomed it's fierce power in my flight path. It was time to ''put up or.......bad things happen!"

A lot of this discussion about whether lemon yellow, or cadmium yellow, or ultramarine blue/thalo blue makes...whatever.....is way too anal.

Get outside, or into the studio and paint!!! Then you'll find out what YOU need to use to render an effect of a particular lighting situation. Until enough 'pigment' has been mixed,smeared and scraped, none of us know what will work for us each individually. If one doesn't do it for you, try another until it works the way you want it to.

Limited, EXPANSIVE, CMY, RGB, Organic, Inorganic...unless it works for me....it's useless. It doesn't matter if Rembrandt, Pollock, Schmid or Rockwell recommends it! Try them all, then make an educated choice and paint.

In the teaching that I do, I have found that the last thing students need is to be lectured about the color index of their pigments. All that will do is cause great confusion and anxiety. At some point in their painting life they may feel interested enought to investigate what makes up their materials, but I'd hope that doesn't come until much canvas has been covered and pounds of paint have been used.

I mean if a painter hasn't used enough PB15 to know how it even works in the 'real world', how in any other world would those 4 characters make enough sense to do any good?

I studied painting and illustration at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA under Dan McCaw, Lorser Feitelson, Harry Carmean, John Asaro, Judith Crook(color theory 7hrs a week for a semester), William Maghaun, Barron Story, and others. Not once in all of that great instruction by professionals who where all standouts in there chosen fields, did I ever hear anyone mention color index #'s. And that's after Ms Crook put us through dozens of sleepless nights filled with assignments consisting of thousands of color swatches exploring hue, intensity and value from every angle. All of this practical hands on experience plus guidance by the more experienced and knowledgeable is what teaches color.

Please don't take this the wrong way, it's fun to read it all. You guys are extremely knowledgable, and I am in awe. But for painters like Larry and me, painting and results are what count. I guess it's all in what you want out of it...for me it's to be a painter.

Michael, I would guess that if you pay more attention to the part 'value' plays in the 'light effect' on the subject that you are trying to depict, you will find that the highlight on the leaves is less dependent on hue, intensity or temperature. We can't match all of the brilliance that nature is able to throw at us in pigments, we have to get as close as is desired within the limits of our materials.

Marc Sabatella
08-17-2004, 10:53 PM
Certainly it can't hurt to know as much as is possible. My life just hasn't presented the need for such, and I'm too busy with other things to believe it is essential. (again..essential for me ).

Depending on the qualifiers used, this will be true for most people as well, of course. For one thing, it isn't cleasr what is meant by "such" here- the discussion has been rather wide ranging. I was addressing the particular point at which you seemed to be objecting to the formal pigment numbers, so let's stick to that.

I would agree most people have no need for this most of the time. But I'm quite serious about W&N's "Bright Red". I was using that particular paint a few months ago, and then I happened to notice they changed the pigment used. Indeed, the color changed as well (surprise, surprise). If you decide you really really like the old "Bright Red" better than the new, that will be the time you need to look past the manufacturer's color name in big bold letters to the pigment information in the small print to find something comparable from another brand, without having to buy tons of sort-of similar looking colors in hopes one will behave the same way. It won't be *necessary*, of course, but it *will* save you a lot of time and money.

A similar issue has come up for me regaridng the yellow I use, called "Azo Yellow" by the manufacturer, but depending on which batch I get it from, is actually made from either a single pigment or a mixture of two. I haven't decided which I like better, luckily, so whichever ends up being their final choice is fine by me right now. But if that company goes out of business and I want to find the same color from another manufacturer, again, the name "Azo Yellow" won't necessarily help me. I'll need the pigment info.

These are ways in which experienced painters who are starting to develop preferences can still sometimes benefit from reading pigment numbers on the labels - of course there is no need to go around memorizing which is which. It is also useful to the beginner in that they tend to buy student grade paints which are notorious for inconsistent naming. Someone on this forum might be talking about how wonderful cobalt blue is for some purpose or other, and the student buys a tube of "cobalt blue hue" and wonders what the big deal is. Only by reading the pigment info would he see that this paint is actually made from ultramarine and/or phthalo. How could it not be beneficial to the student to see this before buying the tube and trying to get it to do something it cannot do? Or to waste his money since he already *has* both ultramarine and phthalo? Of cours,e he I am using the colloquial names, but in the tube labelling, you pretty much have to go by pigment numbers to be safe.

Now, if you were not actually claiming there is never any reason for people to care about the pigments used in their paints, but were rather objecting to some other aspect of the discussion, it would help to clarify this. All I am talking about here is this very specific point.

Marc Sabatella
08-17-2004, 11:14 PM
Reading this thread reminds me of being in Ground School before my first flight lessons. Theory, facts, statistics, scientific principles....In the end it only made me more knowledgeable, it didn't help the airplane stay in the air, or make it go where I wanted it to.


That isn't a great analogy. No one here is really proposing anything like the sorts of things you learn in ground school before attempting to paint. People seem to be getting really hung on on use of pigment numbers, and I don't understand why.

Here's a better analogy (bear with me as I'm no pilot, so the details may seem off). Someone attending one flight school posts a note to a forum saying, "if you want to keep your nose up during a descent, be sure to press big purple knob to the left of the altimeter". Great advice, perhaps, but only if the person reading is flying the same model of aircraft as the person giving the advice. Otherwise, you are going to have to be more specific, and tell people just what that purple knob is supposed to do, so they can figure out how to achieve the same effect on their own planes. Maybe it's to raise flaps 17%, whatever.

Similarly, in using pigment numbers, we can sparing others having to wonder just what W&N's "Bright Red", or Rembrandt's "Permanent Red Light" really are when we talk about how we use them. Sure, we can buy a tube - which is a lot cheaper than buying a new plane - but if we already have a tube from another brand made from the same pigment but under a different name, wouldn't that be nice to know up front. Sure, it's not something you have to think about every day, and often the colloquial names are specific enough, but why complain about the few times when igment numbers might actually be helpful?


A lot of this discussion about whether lemon yellow, or cadmium yellow, or ultramarine blue/thalo blue makes...whatever.....is way too anal.


You're approaching this from the persepctive of someone with years of experience and who already knows what he needs to know. But are you expecting that students run right out and buy every color of every brand ever made, so they can figure out for themselves which work best? Would you not agree it is worth giving a suggested starting palette, and a little knowledge of why those colors make good choices? And that depending on how you work, different starting points make sense, so it is smart to be aware of some of the advantages and disadvantage of some of different palette options? Sure, it's stuff you'll eventually figure out on your own, and will probably refine beyond what anyone can explain in a forum like this, but why not start with at leats a little knowledge? Should everyone be forced to discover for themselves the differences between ultramarine and phthalo blue?


In the teaching that I do, I have found that the last thing students need is to be lectured about the color index of their pigments.


Again, no one has suggested anything rmeotely like this. It's just that sometimes, in explaining something, it helps to be able to refer to something more specific than "the big purple knob to the left of the altimeter".


I mean if a painter hasn't used enough PB15 to know how it even works in the 'real world', how in any other world would those 4 characters make enough sense to do any good?


note i have no idea what pigment these refer to. You don't have to know that up front for this to be useful. If you are telling me about the advantages of your particular palette, and one of the colors is, say, "American Flag Blue" from ASGJKqweriu Art Supply, how does that help me? I'll need to know what pigment it is made from so I can get a tube myself. It's really as simple as that.


I guess it's all in what you want out of it...for me it's to be a painter.


Well, me too. But if mention pigment numbers every once in a while helps me understand what color someone is talking about when they explain something they've found about that color, I maintain that them telling me the pigment number is sometimes necessary, as not every manufacturer names their colors the same way.

Richard Saylor
08-17-2004, 11:19 PM
Marc H., nobody here is claiming that knowing the color indices of pigments (or similar facts) will make anybody a better artist. You can shoot down a straw man if you wish, but nothing will be gained thereby. That being said, the points made by you and Larry have a great deal of validity and should be carefully considered by anyone who might be thinking that technical knowledge is a substitute for the actual practice of painting. I don't know of anyone here who is that stupid, however.

coh
08-18-2004, 12:29 AM
Well, this thread has become interesting to say the least...

I just looked at the tube of Cobalt Blue (hue) that I was experimenting
with today and lo and behold...the pigments are pthalo blue (pb15),
ultramarine (pb29) and zinc oxide (pw4). So, this has actually been a
very helpful discussion. Why? I have been experimenting with expanding
my palette to something similar to what Schmid uses. One of my big
questions has been which blue to add. Pthalo? Cerulean? Cobalt? It was
gonna be cobalt until I just found out that my "cobalt" is really the
mix described above. So now it seems to make more sense to add pthalo,
since I can mix the "cobalt".

Personally, I don't see what all the fuss is about. There's certainly no harm
in knowing something about the pigments and how they are labeled.
No one is advocating memorizing the pigment names! And while I wouldn't
want a workshop/class teacher spending a lot of time on the topic of
pigment names, I think it would have been to my benefit if someone had
made me aware of this issue earlier in my painting "career". Maybe
I wouldn't have bought so many winton "hue" colors :rolleyes: . Then again,
I'm a cheapskate so it probably wouldn't have stopped me.

Chris

bagwash
08-18-2004, 05:00 AM
I haven't read this whole thread, but have to say I agree with Marc and coh. :)

Pigment names and numbers are the only reliable and scientific color identification system there is. I have never had the experience of selecting a color by pigment name/number and finding it "wrong", as some here have stated. By contrast, I have bought many useless or ugly colors based on whatever fanciful (or misleading) name the manufacturer slaps on them, or the inaccurate color that often appears on the tube.

To say that mostly what an artist needs to do is paint, not learn about materials in a systematic way, is quite wrong, IMO. Many great painters made technical knowledge and innovation the foundation of their amazing abilities to express themselves--Velasquez is one.

As someone who went to art school in the late '70's when it was all the rage to teach you nothing, just let you "go for it" and "express yourself" (while the teacher disappeared, presumably having wandered off to the local bar) I can only say that, for me, all that led to was a lot of confusion and frustration. Having spent the last fifteen years--and having wasted a huge amount of money on rubbishy or unusable materials--trying to teach myself how to paint and learn about tools and art materials, my opinion is that the "just go for it" school of thought leaves a lot to be desired! :) It may work for others (though judging by the artistic output of my own generation of artists, I can't see much evidence that it did!) but it certainly didn't work for me.

Everyone learns in different ways--I had no sense of color till I began to learn about pigments and color characteristics, including (lately) getting down to such details as learning to understand spectral curves. I'm not saying it's necessary for everyone to get down to such a level of detail, but pigment basics are pretty easy. I personally feel a lot more confident since engaging in a bit of unofficial study, and am now able to put color together in an individual and pleasing way. Before, due to buying many awful multi-pigment "convenience" colors, often by the best paintmakers including Old Holland--I seemed to veer into mud every time I experimented with color-mixing.

Learning as much as possible can never be wrong, AFAIC. What seems anal to some is fascinating to others. The only thing that matters is the quality of work produced.

It seems to me rather unhelpful (and quite dogmatic) to take the view, as some people do, that everyone can learn, simply by instinct or by experence without much actual study, all the things many older artists (who probably had a very thorough training of the kind no longer available) already know, and sometimes dismiss, having absorbed the lessons and moved on to actual, successful self-expression. Lucky them! :)

This attitude can make learning painters think they just don't "have it" because their paintings are all god-awful, and there is no clear way out of the mess! I don't think this "go for it" attitude to learning art prevails amongst musicians (I'm not referring to the MTV type) or other non-visual artists (or even great cooks) who spend many years, if not a lifetime, learning how to use their materials/instruments. :cool:


Jenny

Marc Hanson
08-18-2004, 09:56 AM
Original quote by Richard Saylor-....carefully considered by anyone who might be thinking that technical knowledge is a substitute for the actual practice of painting. I don't know of anyone here who is that stupid, however.

That's all that I meant. (Should have just said it that way! ;) )

Obviously no one here is that stupid and I acknowledged just the opposite in my post. I am constantly amazed at the degree of technical knowledge that is shown in this particular area of Wet Canvas by some without the years of painting experience behind them. 30 years ago, I made choices in my learning curve that also would have been nice to have had advice on. And in my classes, my students get that kind of advice. If they're using pigment Hues vs the actual pigment or the historically accepted substitute (ie utramarine, alizarin and others ), believe me I tell them the differences they'll find in using what is usually a more 'professional' grade. Having said that, many of these students cannot afford to use the non-student grade paint, the pure, non-'hue' containing paints. I can't afford authentic Holbein Cobalt Violet Lt...when I want some I use the 'constructed' versions.

Quote by bagwash-Pigment names and numbers are the only reliable and scientific color identification system there is. I have never had the experience of selecting a color by pigment name/number and finding it "wrong", as some here have stated. By contrast, I have bought many useless or ugly colors based on whatever fanciful (or misleading) name the manufacturer slaps on them, or the inaccurate color that often appears on the tube.

I understand what you are saying Jenny, but there is value to the learning experience above. Color in painting is afterall...making a choice. I think that having tried 35 different pigments and deciding that only 5 of those work for your painting and give you everything you need is more important than having someone tell you in the '70's that there are only 5 pigments that you ever need to buy. Those you found "useless or ugly" were a lesson in color choice...expensive yes I wouldn't argue that...but more impressionable perhaps than simply being told the same thing.

To say that mostly what an artist needs to do is paint, not learn about materials in a systematic way, is quite wrong, IMO. Many great painters made technical knowledge and innovation the foundation of their amazing abilities to express themselves--Velasquez is one.

You misunderstood my 'bad' analogy too. What I'm suggesting is that YES, the knowledge base needs to be there. Yes, that is what I teach also. I am talking specifically about 'Color Index #'s', not.... knowing what warm and cool, transperancy, oil content and type(drying time), lightfastness, and permenance of the pigments used is.

And if I were painting in Velasquez's time, and I had to grind or have my pigments ground for me, I'd need to know too. There are painters who like doing that still, it's not for everyone! When it came to the paint hitting the canvas though, I'd doubt that even Velasquez was thinking, "Should I use PY37 or PY75?" There wasn't a Color Index, he and other innovators worked by what they Assumed to be permanent(and that was disasterous for many of the pigments they used), available, and perhaps Most important...what gave them the results they were after.

Learning as much as possible can never be wrong, AFAIC. What seems anal to some is fascinating to others. The only thing that matters is the quality of work produced.

Agree completely. I am also fascinated Jenny, but I don't want beginning painters to become so absorbed in thinking that they have to understand all of this technical info that they freeze when it comes to their putting paint on canvas and seeing the wonder of what results from the hands on experience. Too many are spending too much time on this stuff before they have the experience to understand it, IMO. I see it daily. When I work with them to learn to see color in light, learn to mix what they see, make comparisons, decisions and apply them, none of the 'color index' knowledge is at the fore front. The practical aspects of the craft are.

It seems to me rather unhelpful (and quite dogmatic) to take the view, as some people do, that everyone can learn, simply by instinct or by experence without much actual study, all the things many older artists (who probably had a very thorough training of the kind no longer available) already know, and sometimes dismiss, having absorbed the lessons and moved on to actual, successful self-expression. Lucky them!

That's not my opinion, history or practice. I studied, still study and teach others for that very reason. I also went to school in the mid-70's. To an art school that I sought out for it's reputation in teaching the basics, not, what at least in this country, was being taught in the Universities.

I would add that in the US, and I am not familiar with other places, there is more quality education in painting both formal and informal now than we even dreamed of in the mid-70's. Being a young painter eager to learn today, you'd have so many choices from more art schools teaching traditional training, ateliers' teaching classical academic painting, Private art school's like the Scottsdale Art School, one I teach through The Minnesota River School of Fine Art, and many others. Many, many experienced painters offer themselves through classes today, that wasn't as true until the early 80's.

Marc Hanson
08-18-2004, 11:34 AM
Chris- In the paintings that you've posted in the PA forum, is the response to them, or any of the information that banters back and forth there reliant on whether or not you knew if you were using the correct yellow pigment # in the lower part of the sky, for example? Or was it whether or not you were capturing the effect of that sky? If you had said " No matter what I do with this 'Winton' cad yellow light 'Hue', I can't get the strength in the color that I want!", and I saw the post, I would have suggested you try a non-student grade of paint and would have explained the differences. But that would be based on behavior of the paint, not it's exact pigment makeup. Would you have benefited more from learning that you'd be better off using a better grade of cad yellow light, or what the pigment index # is?

The manufacturers call it student grade because it's cheaper, and they assume that students all want to use the cheap stuff. I think that is a mistake. It makes things more difficult in the long run. My first day at art school I was given a supply list of all very expensive paints and brushes(W&N series '7' size 12's, expensive even then) and told to only use the best. It meant more baked potatoes and Ramen noodle soup than I needed for the next 3 years, but I did see the value in using the best. Paint on!

Quote by Marc S-That isn't a great analogy. No one here is really proposing anything like the sorts of things you learn in ground school before attempting to paint.
Marc, of course not and that isn't my point. I hope you're kidding?! Although the anlaogy of ground school to learning the basics of color theory, design, drawing, and materials in art school or from a teacher privately, or on your own, is analogous.

People seem to be getting really hung on on use of pigment numbers, and I don't understand why.
That's my point.

Someone attending one flight school posts a note to a forum saying, "if you want to keep your nose up during a descent, be sure to press big purple knob to the left of the altimeter". Great advice, perhaps, but only if the person reading is flying the same model of aircraft as the person giving the advice. Otherwise, you are going to have to be more specific, and tell people just what that purple knob is supposed to do, so they can figure out how to achieve the same effect on their own planes. Maybe it's to raise flaps 17%, whatever.
I think this is closer to the analogy Marc- I'm building, when I have a spare dime to spend, an all aluminum, 2 seat, 200kt aircraft(looong term project). I learned to fly before starting this project. Since starting the project I've learned all about the different mil specs of rivets, nuts,bolts, torque tables, about aluminum alloys, more physics about corossion and primers than I ever dreamed of, and so much more. I haven't even made it into the electronics, avionics, and power plant yet. I now know more about an airplane's construction and composition than I ever did before I passed my private, and instrument ratings. Not knowing didn't improve or detract from learning or developing my 'flying' abilities. Yes I am now more aware of how the thing I'm sitting in at 5000 ft putting along at 90 kts is built, and what the ingredients are. But I still have to apply the actual skills of flying to stay aloft and upright. Each aircraft you climb into is different, those 'purple' knobs are in different places on the dash in different aircraft. If you climb into one that is real different from what your used to, you need to be checked out by an approved check pilot to be aware of the differences and safe to fly. But it's more with respect to the qualities of what the differences mean to your flying that aircraft.

Blue and yellow make green, but different blues and different yellows make different greens. That's what is needed to head out to paint.

You're approaching this from the persepctive of someone with years of experience and who already knows what he needs to know. But are you expecting that students run right out and buy every color of every brand ever made, so they can figure out for themselves which work best? Would you not agree it is worth giving a suggested starting palette, and a little knowledge of why those colors make good choices? And that depending on how you work, different starting points make sense, so it is smart to be aware of some of the advantages and disadvantage of some of different palette options? Sure, it's stuff you'll eventually figure out on your own, and will probably refine beyond what anyone can explain in a forum like this, but why not start with at leats a little knowledge?
I did say that I teach. In that teaching all of the points above are covered, but not dealt with to the degree that they are often discussed here. And that's fine, I read these threads and occassionally make the mistake of expressing an opinion. If someone wants to know more, and I know the answer, then I give what I know.

Should everyone be forced to discover for themselves the differences between ultramarine and phthalo blue?
Forced, of course not! But, is that a better way to find out the difference between the two, "for themselves", absolutely. For one thing, as teachers, we can't cover every pigment, so some exploration is inevitable. I don't use pthalo blue, only ultramarine. Should I limit them to only what they see me use? No, they need to explore, experiment, and yes even sacrifice paint, canvas and time....Learning! It's not a waste of time or materials, it's experience and it is valuable. I however do not leave them out in the cold. Pardon me if I left that impression. I am specifically talking about the degree of detail that this topic gets here. Maybe I'm wrong in looking at it that way. But if there are new painters who tune in here....they probably turn tail and run away thinking that this is what is needed to understand how to mix and understand color.

When I talk about paints to use, I always mention the manufacturer. A case in point, until a couple of years ago I used Rembrandt yelow ochre light as a staple on my palette. Suddenly one day I bought several tubes not knowing that they had completely changed the makeup and it was no longer the same color that I had been used to. Same pigment index number from the old to the new one, but in mixture and visually it was NOT the same paint. So I had to search for a substitute from another manufacturer. I did that by looking, and trying several until I found one that was close and worked for me. It still wasn't the 'same', but it was close enough. I think that if a painter is so reliant on an exact pigment, or piece of equipment that it's difficult to work without it, then that painter is too tied to that particular material.

WFMartin
08-18-2004, 01:06 PM
Well, I'm partly in agreement and partly disagree with many of the statements made in the last few posts.

All I can honestly say is that, as an interested color "theorist", there is nothing I would treasure more than to have the identifications on a tube of paint indicate information that is meaningful. Contrary to what some here have experienced, I find that the colors of paint squeezed out from tubes containing the same ID numbers, while not being "wrong" in the deplorable sense of the word, are certainly "different" from a practical sense. To me, that places that ID number in a list of "nice to know, but not needed" trivia.

However, what would be meaningful to many color theorists is if that ID actually indicated a Munsell designation. That would mean that it could be placed in its own position on a 3 dimensional color model, and would have some real, practical meaning, in terms of its hue, value, and chroma. In fact, I originally thought that's what those ID designations were, when I first began painting, and everyone was referring to them, until I learned later of their vague relationship to the actual color in the tube.

I have been aware for some time that one could go about mixing certain convenience colors from other colors which are closer to primaries; in fact I often advocate doing that. I didn't need an ID on a paint tube to tell me that. Cerulean and Cobalt are two blues that can easily be mixed from other colors. However, many of the "earth colors" such as raw umber, burnt umber, yellow ochre, etc. which may actually be considered to be single pigments (I actually don't know, and couldn't care less), can also be mixed from primary colors, so being a "single pigment" as the ID may inform us, does not make them exceptional or unique in any sense of the word, nor does it make that ID any more important or useful.

So, while I, as a "theorist" may truly wish those ID numbers would be chock full of useful information, actually find them to have so little pertinent meaning that I don't usually bother even seeking them out on the tube.

Actually, I seldom get concerned with all that "single pigment" vs. "several pigment" information that interest many, which is apparently indicated by that cherished ID number on the tube. What I AM concerned with is the color of the paint coming out of the tube, and I have seldom, if ever, found the need for caring much of just how it got to be that color.

I call any color but a primary, a "convenience" color, and whether it is a single pigment or a mixed pigment holds very little interest for me, as long as it can be used effectively, and does not need to be mixed by me.....that's what makes it a "convenience" color...it's convenient.

Bill

LarrySeiler
08-18-2004, 01:32 PM
I call any color but a primary, a "convenience" color, and whether it is a single pigment or a mixed pigment holds very little interest for me, as long as it can be used effectively, and does not need to be mixed by me.....that's what makes it a "convenience" color...it's convenient.

Bill

one of the reasons that some of us have come to enjoy the limited palette is that based on sharing information, we come to know which are higher quality pigments based on color, mixing, consistency, binders and such...and can target our money in fewer pigments but better ones.

That also lightens up the portable for those that carry one, and perhaps great distance.

In fact...I've borrowed Jamie's suggestion of using the plastic pill containter that has a flip top lid for each day of the week.

I fill a separate well with the paint I need for the day's outing or next day as well, pop it in a zip lock plastic bag, and toss 'em into the freezer till I need them.

Instead of having to mix up a gazillion pigments on location where I risk losing the drama of the light, its fast, convenient, and I'm on top of it in a moment's time of setting up.

The limited palette really forces you to develop sensitivity in mixing.

I own a dvd of Scott Christensen painting, and he uses the limited palette I do. A friend came over to visit him in his studio and insisted that he could never do without his burnt sienna. So, while his friend walked off to use Scott's bathroom...Scott took out a tube of burnt sienna and squeezed some off onto his mixing palette. Then he took his limited palette and mixed the color up and set the two piles of pigment next to each other.

When his friend came out, Scott challenged him to pick the real burnt sienna, and he was not able to.

To me...what is lost with the ease of convenience is the art of seeing a thing and mixing it. That art...to fully empower a person painting from life and especially a fleeting moment's experience with fickle light, needs to become second nature and near intuitive. The more pigments you bring to the table...the longer that intimate understanding will take to make this empowerment second nature. Of course....that's just IMHO....

Larry

Richard Saylor
08-18-2004, 01:42 PM
Actually, I seldom get concerned with all that "single pigment" vs. "several pigment" information that interest many, which is apparently indicated by that cherished ID number on the tube. What I AM concerned with is the color of the paint coming out of the tube, and I have seldom, if ever, found the need for caring much of just how it got to be that color.
Unfortunately, the color of the paint coming out of the tube does not indicate how it will behave in mixtures. Here are a couple of examples. I don't expect you to consider them very important, but they are to me and might be to others.

1. You know the old rule of thumb: "The more colors you mix together, the more likely you are to get mud." Well, if a certain color contains 2 pigments, and you mix it with another color containing 2 pigments, then you have, in effect, mixed together 4 colors. The more pigments in the colors being mixed, the greater the potential for problems. This is important to limited palette painters like me and is one of the reasons why it is more desirable to use colors like genuine cobalt blue rather than cobalt blue hue.

2. Some napthol reds look very similar in color to some cadmium reds "coming out of the tube." However, napthol + UB makes a recognizable violet, whereas cadmium + UB can make mud (according to Jamie's experiences with oils, and what I have observed with acrylics). (Actually, with Liquitex acrylics, cadmium red + UB can make a beautiful chocolate brown which looks good enough to eat.) This behavior can also be predicted from the spectral reflectance of these pigments, but of course that's much too arcane for real artists to bother with, right?

Richard Saylor
08-18-2004, 02:07 PM
However, what would be meaningful to many color theorists is if that ID actually indicated a Munsell designation.
It's too bad you don't like acrylics, because Liquitex and (I believe) Holbein do indeed have the Munsell designations on the tube. Holbein oils might have that information too, and I'm sure Permanent Pigments would if they were still in production, since they were leaning in that direction when they were discontinued.

James or Jimmy Jim
08-18-2004, 04:13 PM
Quite the mass-debate here in this thread. ;)

My personal view on art theory is: first show me your work, then give me your opinion.

The difference between theory and practice is in theory somewhat smaller than in practice.

Or as someone said in another forum:

Shut up and paint! :D

WFMartin
08-18-2004, 04:34 PM
Unfortunately, the color of the paint coming out of the tube does not indicate how it will behave in mixtures. Here are a couple of examples. I don't expect you to consider them very important, but they are to me and might be to others.

1. You know the old rule of thumb: "The more colors you mix together, the more likely you are to get mud." Well, if a certain color contains 2 pigments, and you mix it with another color containing 2 pigments, then you have, in effect, mixed together 4 colors. The more pigments in the colors being mixed, the greater the potential for problems. This is important to limited palette painters like me and is one of the reasons why it is more desirable to use colors like genuine cobalt blue rather than cobalt blue hue.

2. Some napthol reds look very similar in color to some cadmium reds "coming out of the tube." However, napthol + UB makes a recognizable violet, whereas cadmium + UB can make mud (according to Jamie's experiences with oils, and what I have observed with acrylics). (Actually, with Liquitex acrylics, cadmium red + UB can make a beautiful chocolate brown which looks good enough to eat.) This behavior can also be predicted from the spectral reflectance of these pigments, but of course that's much too arcane for real artists to bother with, right?

Richard,

This discussion is getting "interesting-er" and "interesting-er". ;) One point on which I disagree with you is that "the more colors you use in a mixture, automatically makes 'mud'". My feeling is that "mud" is nothing more than a particular color, being used in an inappropriate place in a painting. I believe that it has very little to do with how many single pigments it took to make the offending color.

That being said, however, I definitely DO agree with you in the fact that tubes of paints that are often called "hues" or are composed of more than one color of pigment certainly DO exhibit different characteristics when used in mixtures.

I absolutely LOVE Larry's story about the friend who fooled his other friend with a "mix" of burnt sienna placed next to a "real" burnt sienna. I have done that, myself, for my own amusement. But, there remains the fact that if one were to take the "real" burnt sienna, and mix it with white, for example, and the "mixed" burnt sienna and mix it, also, with white, the resulting lighter versions will probably be vastly different in their individual appearance. That anomaly or aberration is known as an overtone.

Colors such as these are extraordinarily interesting, because in masstone, they appear identical, whereas when being used in a mix with either white or another color, will behave quite differently. If for no other reason, I'm on your side of the argument on this point, regarding the ID numbers on tubes of paints.

In my experience, I was once able, (on sort of on a challenge from another artist) to produce a quite facsimile of cadmium orange by mixing two other colors together. When placed on the palette, side by side, one would truly be hardpressed to tell them apart. But, when each was subsequently mixed with Flake White......WOW! BIG DIFFERENCE! The overtone of "real" cad orange swings it toward red as it gets lightened with white (It turns PINK.) When my matching masstone of cad orange was mixed with white, it became extremely YELLOW in its appearance. This was a tremendous difference, and all coming from a masstones of each which were for the most part,...identical. So, I agree that if, in fact, these elusive ID numbers can help to predict overtones such as these examples, that, if nothing else, endows them with a degree of usefulness.

However, the question then becomes can I possibly achieve the same effect of the "real" cadmium orange when mixed with white, by "doping" my mix with other colors (or other proportions of the same 2 colors) as more and more white is added to the mix, and the answer is certainly "yes".

But, Richard, your point is certainly well taken, and you are correct, as far as I'm concerned.

Bill

bagwash
08-18-2004, 09:58 PM
I understand what you are saying Jenny, but there is value to the learning experience above. Color in painting is afterall...making a choice. I think that having tried 35 different pigments and deciding that only 5 of those work for your painting and give you everything you need is more important than having someone tell you in the '70's that there are only 5 pigments that you ever need to buy. Those you found "useless or ugly" were a lesson in color choice...expensive yes I wouldn't argue that...but more impressionable perhaps than simply being told the same thing.

I agree with you on this point--there is a lot to be learned from trying lots of different pigments to decide which works best for you. My point was that there is a lot of time wasted when artists rely on the manufacturers to accurately characterise their colors, rather than relying on the pigment names. I read labels at the supermarket to make sure I'm getting what I want. I don't want a product called "olive oil" that actually contains mostly safflower oil. Likewise when I go out to buy a tube of cobalt blue ($100.= Aust. for the OH--Old Holland-- 40ml tube out here) I want to be sure it IS cobalt, not some businessman's idea of an "improved" cobalt with added (and often conflicting) pigments chucked in to boost transparency, or "brilliance", or to cut costs. This kind of adulteration goes on in all paint brands eg. OH adds a quinacridone to it's ultra deep and also adds cobalt to it's ultra light. The substitution or adulteration is even worse in the cheaper brands. The problem is paint-makers can use any name they want, so the name "cadmium red" in itself means nothing.


You misunderstood my 'bad' analogy too. What I'm suggesting is that YES, the knowledge base needs to be there. Yes, that is what I teach also. I am talking specifically about 'Color Index #'s', not.... knowing what warm and cool, transperancy, oil content and type(drying time), lightfastness, and permenance of the pigments used is.

Well, I wish I'd had the chance to learn all of the above at art school. :) . However, I don't think there is anything too complicated about making sure the pigment you're getting is actually the one you want. Colors that look the same won't necessarily mix the same or tint the same--in fact, they usually behave totally differently--so if you want to play with color in any kind of repeatable and consistent way, I don't understand how you can do so without making sure you're getting the pigment you want.

And if I were painting in Velasquez's time, and I had to grind or have my pigments ground for me, I'd need to know too. There are painters who like doing that still, it's not for everyone! When it came to the paint hitting the canvas though, I'd doubt that even Velasquez was thinking, "Should I use PY37 or PY75?" There wasn't a Color Index, he and other innovators worked by what they Assumed to be permanent(and that was disasterous for many of the pigments they used), available, and perhaps Most important...what gave them the results they were after.

Exactly. But you can't be sure of getting "the results you're after" if the "red" paint you want to use for a painting is quinacridone one day, napthol the next, and cadmium the day after, all because the tubes looked the same and had similar names, (not because you decided to try different reds). Learning to paint is difficult enough without adding in so many variables, such as not knowing what you're actually using. My point is the need to simplify this hard process, (especially if painting in oils), not complicate it.


Agree completely. I am also fascinated Jenny, but I don't want beginning painters to become so absorbed in thinking that they have to understand all of this technical info that they freeze when it comes to their putting paint on canvas and seeing the wonder of what results from the hands on experience. Too many are spending too much time on this stuff before they have the experience to understand it, IMO. I see it daily. When I work with them to learn to see color in light, learn to mix what they see, make comparisons, decisions and apply them, none of the 'color index' knowledge is at the fore front. The practical aspects of the craft are.

Again, I agree with you. :) You can't understand (or enjoy!) the theory without practising it, and equally, you can't practise without some theory. It's just that I'm coming from the point of view of someone who had to teach themselves all the technical info, in an environment of fellow artists who always wondered why anyone would actually want to be able to draw well, or even care about the quality of their materials. Obviously, there is turn-around happening now, eg. at my old art school, where they are finally teaching a little more on the technical side , they are having to teach students (sometimes post-grad students) things like "oil and water don't mix"! and recently the director complained of enrolling a student with post-grad qualifications in ceramics who had decided to do a course there because she didn't know how to throw a pot. But overall I do see your point--it's all about balance.


I would add that in the US, and I am not familiar with other places, there is more quality education in painting both formal and informal now than we even dreamed of in the mid-70's. Being a young painter eager to learn today, you'd have so many choices from more art schools teaching traditional training, ateliers' teaching classical academic painting, Private art school's like the Scottsdale Art School, one I teach through The Minnesota River School of Fine Art, and many others. Many, many experienced painters offer themselves through classes today, that wasn't as true until the early 80's.[/

It's not really like that down under here in Oz, unfortunately. The only place (other than my old, now reportedly reformed school) that claims to give a better grounding in the technical side of things in Sydney is pretty much steeped in the pre-Degas "dead painting" academy style of art, (and lots of very impermanent but "time-honored" practices) . :(

I have to say I've learnt a lot from wetcanvas--much more than I did at art school way back when...though for newbies I would add that it's very important to look for back-up evidence of some of the information received here, like the recommending of some very controversial mediums you see posted on the oil painting forum from time to time.

Jenny :)

coh
08-18-2004, 10:04 PM
Very interesting discussion. Just a few comments/replies:

Marc H: I hear what you're saying. There is no substitute for actual painting
when it comes to learning how to get the color effects you want. I admit
that I have gotten bogged down with the process of trying to decide what
colors to add to my 3-color palette. I think it's partly due to time pressure,
feeling like I don't have enough time to devote to painting. I think that is
an issue for a lot of people on WC - we have jobs and other commitments and
have not had extensive art training or experience - and are trying to fit
learning to paint into an already full schedule. So the natural inclination is
to want to cut corners, by finding someone whose paintings we like and trying
their palette, or asking people how they've solved a problem (like the bright
sunlit greens that started this). I know you know that, it's part of the reason
there is such a market for painting workshops and videos, after all.

By the way, I don't think anyone in PA has ever made a recommendation
based on color pigment number, but if you'd like to do so in the future feel
free! I will adjust...I'm not one to complain about free advice :) .

Bill, interesting comments about the mixed vs true burnt sienna/cad orange.
I've never done that type of evaluation with my limited palette colors
but will plan to check it out.

Chris

Richard Saylor
08-18-2004, 11:14 PM
But, Richard, your point is certainly well taken, and you are correct, as far as I'm concerned.

Bill
Thanks for the fascinating response, Bill.

The main point I was trying to make about single-pigment colors is this: mixtures made with, say, a 2-pigment color are likely to be of lower chroma than mixtures made with a single-pigment color. Therefore I prefer to use single-pigment colors in my limited palettes. ("Mud" was too strong a term, and inappropriate anyway.)

Marc Hanson
08-19-2004, 12:08 AM
Jenny- I can't say that I disagree with anything you've said. We are solitary practitioners and need to be aware at all times of the pitfalls of supposed standards in supplies and the learning process. As solitary practitioners, we're left to be accountable for a failure to learn, to excel, or to remain at the status quo. Would be nice to have more standardization in the art materials business, but it's too small to garner that kind of attention.

The discourse that happens here is at the least helpful, with some knowledge. But I agree that without some knowledge, the discourse could be misleading. I've found that amongst the serious painters that I know, information isn't taken without a large dose of ..."Oh yeah?"... water. Questioning information is a requirement to becoming an individual painter. In the past there were great rivalries between the prominent painters. Disputes dealt with materials, working methods, "what is art", political philosophy....sound familiar? I think that is healthy for the overall good of the art. I appreciate the challenge of what I think is correct information...it makes me think harder...it sometimes changes my thinking!

Thanks for that.

WFMartin
08-19-2004, 02:07 AM
paintbox1,

You are correct.

There is LOTS of good information being discussed in this thread. I think this is what it's all about, and this is the sort of discussion I truly believe makes better artists of us ALL! :D

Bill

Marc Sabatella
08-19-2004, 01:25 PM
Well, I'm glad this discussion has settled in the direction it has. Obviously, there is more agreement than disagreement on what's really important - painting. There is a general feeling that sometimes these disucssion get more technical than msot people need care about, and I think those participating in the discussions would agree. That doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile discussing those things sometimes, though. Nor does it mean that slightly technical discussion can never be of use to the beginner. It's just a question of people being aware of what is what.

So just a few more specific comments, some of which get a little off the original topic:


If you had said " No matter what I do with this 'Winton' cad yellow light 'Hue', I can't get the strength in the color that I want!", and I saw the post, I would have suggested you try a non-student grade of paint and would have explained the differences. But that would be based on behavior of the paint, not it's exact pigment makeup.


Suppose, though, he had said it was ObscureReallyExpensiveBrand's "Sunny Yellow" he was having trouble with. Would you not agree that in order to give useful advice, you'd want to know what actual pigment was involved, so you could see how it compared to the paints with which you have experience?

Elsewhere, Chris mentioned discovering his "Cobalt Blue Hue" was a mix of ultramarine and phthalo blues. Chris, you say you conclude from this not to bother adding cobalt to your palette, since you can mix a similar color. I just wanted to point out that this is not the only conclusion to be drawn from your discovery. The other truth here is that you have gained no actual experience with real cobalt - only with someone's approximation. So while you can mix your own approximation, only by buying the real thing will you get to find out how good an approximation it is. Personally, I'd still say save your money - I like the color of cobalt a lot, but it's just so expensive, and given my preference for a limited palette, just not useful enough (hard to produce good darks with it) to justify inclusion.

BTW, the issue of student grade paints in general is of course one on which many have strong opinions. I don't, actually. I can see their attractiveness for some, and can see how they could be used to good effect when learning.

I'd submit that looking a little deeper into the pigment info is going to be part of the difference between success and failure here, though. Someone hearing about cadmium yellow and how it behaves with some other color might buy a tube of student grade "cadmium yellow hue" and then wonder why he cant get it do the things the book or teacher says it is supposed to do. If he looked at the pigment info, he'd find out he doesn't in fact have cadmium yellow, but more likely one of the arylides or something like that, thus saving himself a lot of confusion.

But arylide is a fine pigment; I happen to like it *better* than cadmium. It is true that the student grade "cadmium yellow hue" is an extremely poor substitute for artist grade cadmium yellow, if you truly need it to behave like cadmium yellow. It could be, however, perhaps almost as good as an artist grade arylide, since arylide is a pretty cheap pigment that they wouldn't have had to skimp on too much in the student grade. So if someone gets it into their head that they'd like to try arylide yellow, and are committed to student grade paints, they'll have to read the pigment info to find this color.

That is, there is inherently nothing wrong with a paint called "Cadmium Yellow Hue". "Hue" doesn't mean inferior. It just means a substitute. And sometimes, the substitute is as good or better as the original, if it suits your needs better. Just don't think you're getting cadmium when you're really getting arylide. So I guess I'd say while I have no strong opinion on the merits of students grade paint, I would say that if you elect to use them, you really *should* look at the pigment info to avoid confusion.


[My first day at art school I was given a supply list of all very expensive paints and brushes(W&N series '7' size 12's, expensive even then) and told to only use the best.


Note that while you say you never were told anything about pigments, since you were given an apparently specific list of paints to buy, there was no likelihood of confusion. Students reading this forum probably don't have any such specific materials list in hand; or else, they probably have several conflicting ones from different sources and are trying to make sense of it all. So if one list says to buy W&N Bright Red, and another says to buy Rembrandt Permanent Red Medium, the student could save himself time and money by looking at the pigment info and finding they are actually the same paint.

That's really all anyone here is saying. Not that students need to memorizing pigment numbers, or think about them while painting. They are irrelevant 99.99% of one's life. But for those few minutes in the store as you try to decipher which color is going to be closest to the one your heard someone talking about, it just makes sense to look at that. This would have been as true for Velasquez as for us. When he went to the apothecary or wherever he went to get his pigments, you can bet he would want to know as reliably as possible which pile of red powder was most similar to the pile of red powder he had just used up from the apothecary down the street that had closed up shop.


they need to explore, experiment, and yes even sacrifice paint, canvas and time....Learning! It's not a waste of time or materials, it's experience and it is valuable.


Well, of course. And sorry if I gave the impression that the purpose of this discussion should be to give everyone the One Right Pigment List so they wouldn't have to experiment. It's more about giving people some useful information to help them guide their experiments. For instance, someone looking for alternatives to cadmium red can peruse these these discussions, see which pigments are mentioned as possible substitutes, make a note of what the differences are claimed to be, then go out and buy a couple of tubes and play with them with those discussions in mind.



I am specifically talking about the degree of detail that this topic gets here.
Maybe I'm wrong in looking at it that way. But if there are new painters who tune in here....they probably turn tail and run away thinking that this is what is needed to understand how to mix and understand color.


I think it it important to keep in mind that nobody is saying that the level of detail that we sometimes get into here is what every beginner needs to know. Clearly, it is not. The title of this forum isn't "things every beginner needs to know", and hopefully, students will keep this in mind as they read. Just because it can be discussed and is interesting to those who discuss it doesn't mean anyone thinks everyone should have to know all this.


When I talk about paints to use, I always mention the manufacturer.


This is of course almost as specific as mentioning pigment numbers, except for the issue of a manufacturer changing pigments used from time to time. But one advantage of mentioning specific pigments is that many people, for better or for worse, like to stay with a particular brand. In my case, I have a practical reason for it - I use MGraham oil paints, which are made from walnut oil. While they can mix with linseed oil paints, there might well be issues with different drying times, not to mention different pigment loads. i just feel better sticking with the MGraham's. So it is very useful for me to know what pigments are in the particular brand of the particular color you might mention - so I can see if MGraham makes something comparable.


A case in point, until a couple of years ago I used Rembrandt yelow ochre light as a staple on my palette. Suddenly one day I bought several tubes not knowing that they had completely changed the makeup and it was no longer the same color that I had been used to. Same pigment index number from the old to the new one, but in mixture and visually it was NOT the same paint. So I had to search for a substitute from another manufacturer. I did that by looking, and trying several until I found one that was close and worked for me.


Yes, unfortunately, pigment number info doesn't tell the whole story either, and sometimes, one has to resort to this. Still, that doesn't mean it isn't useful to have pigment info as a starting place in one's exploration.


I think that if a painter is so reliant on an exact pigment, or piece of equipment that it's difficult to work without it, then that painter is too tied to that particular material.


This is unfortunately very true, and as someone who has become quite dependent on MGraham, a company that for all I know could go out of business tomorrow, I'll all too aware of it. I don't know how old Art (?) Graham is, but I feel for everyone who relies entirely on Unison pastels. That guy can't go on forever...

Michael24
08-19-2004, 03:17 PM
OK Folks:

In answer to several of the last posts.

Yes, I am that stupid, that's why I asked such dumb questions.

The more I know about paint mixing the more questions I ask so I am loaded with questions and few answers.

The main one: Yes, I agree with all views. You have to have lots of practical experience. An artist I know said to me, Just keep painting. Maybe, after the 200th or 300th picture you will start to understand something. I would like to see some progress after 20 or 30. However that may be asking too much.

I ask many of these questions because I am not getting any younger and I want to lower the learning curve a bit. Honestly, I want to ask experienced painters what they use and how they use it so that I can try these things myself and get a bit of a jump on avoiding lots of beginners mistakes. (Yes, I know Marc H. that is a great way to learn by just mixing and making lots of experiments, mistakes and sometime small triumphs)

Paint numbers: A lot of seemingly useful information exists. (do not go nuts, I am a proponent of the index system and reporting it on tubes of paint) However, you are right Bill, what do you do with all the dotted PB-15's in the world? Does it matter to anyone that the :1 :2 :3 means a change in phthalocyanine's chemical structure. Yes and No. If you are a car manufacturer and you want the paint to match from last years order to this years, You bet you want to know the :1 :2 etc... You also want to test the batch because they may be similar chemically but just a bit off in hue or chroma.

What you really need is the CI name and CI number together. They do a better job at identifying the color. That way, like previous posts stated so well, we can talk about the same hue of a particular color and in terms of the artist, if they are looking for the same color in a different brand, they don't have to go by a color name, they can use the CI name and number to get a matching hue. One small problem. Even with both name and number one can get inconsistencies. You all picked the very colors that give the most problems. For example; Cadmium Yellow PY35. It can be mixed with various additives, heated to different temperatures in the manufacturing stage, come in different particle sizes and have various coatings surrounding each particle. It is still CI name PY25 CI number 77205 but each and all of those variables can change the hue of what we would all call cadmium yellow. That is the great flaw in the Society of Dyers and Colourists system. It is not fine tuned enough to indicate small shifts in hue or chroma.

Marc S. - W&N bright red is a great example. In 1978 it was made with toluidine red PR3. In 1993 it was made with toluidine red and BON arylamide red, PR3 and PR170 respectively, In 1998 it was made with napthol carbamide PR170 and today it is made with pyrrol red PR254. It has had as many make-overs as Madonna.

Do these changes make a difference? YES The color looks the same for the most part... still bright red.... Will it mix the same with other pigments..?? NO. So purely from a consumer standpoint, it makes sense to take a look a label of paint when buying it, epecially if you rely on it to be consistent time after time. Each of those single and combination pigments will have separate characteristics, biases, tinting strengths.

Student colors: This requires the consumer to look at the label. The multiple pigment formulations especially need scrutiny. They may look the same in masstone but act very differently when mixed, as compared to their true single pigment namesake. Embrace or avoid them. However, know by the CI name and number what you are getting yourself into.

My point is that you can't rely on any company to maintain a consistent supply of pigment to make a color. Remember the art industry does not drive the pigment industry. Colors come and go. Sometimes they change radically because of a grind size or coating so they become unusable for artists paints. It just happens.

So before we all dismiss the use of color names and index numbers, it does serve as a valuable feature for SOME of us and if looked at as a way of checking color ingredients (as a consumer) or as a way of finding the same color in another manuf. line of paint.

The Munsell System: Bill and Richard - that is a wonderful system. If we both had the color chart in front of us and were talking on the phone or on-line we could speak about the same color with 100 percent accuracy that we were looking at the same thing in our sample book. Henry Levison, the founder of Permanent Pigments had the great idea to mark tubes with Munsell notation. It remains as you pointed out Richard on every tube of Liquitex acrylics. However, as great as it is Munsell is not a mixing system in the sense that you can obtain a formula to achieve a particular hue, value and chroma position. It is a measured, equally spaced means of finding color relationships using complementary, splits or triads. You can do the math to find opposing complementary values. It's quite a neat system. It is hard to obtain Munsell values from paints. You need a good spectrophotometer and supporting software to aid in this task. This is not for the casual artist by any means. Munsell is great but not a practical way to go for artists right now, unless someone has some thoughts of ways to use it that I am not aware of currently.

Anyway, great discussion. If anyone want to see the fruit of my labors and need a good humor-filled moment. I can post a limited palette painting of mine. You can be the judge.


Happy painting

Michael Skalka, Nat. Gallery of Art. Wash. DC

coh
08-19-2004, 04:17 PM
Marc S wrote


Elsewhere, Chris mentioned discovering his "Cobalt Blue Hue" was a mix of
ultramarine and phthalo blues. Chris, you say you conclude from this not to
bother adding cobalt to your palette, since you can mix a similar color. I just
wanted to point out that this is not the only conclusion to be drawn from
your discovery. The other truth here is that you have gained no actual
experience with real cobalt - only with someone's approximation. So while
you can mix your own approximation, only by buying the real thing will you
get to find out how good an approximation it is. Personally, I'd still say save
your money - I like the color of cobalt a lot, but it's just so expensive, and
given my preference for a limited palette, just not useful enough (hard to
produce good darks with it) to justify inclusion.
Right, I meant that I may as well not add this version of "cobalt". I was
trying to decide what blue to add based on the colors I currently have. Since
I already have pthalo as a separate color, and since the "cobalt hue" is
just ultramarine and pthalo, I may as well add the pthalo and gain all
the benefits (and drawbacks) of that alone. It remains undetermined
just how accurately the ultramarine+pthalo mixture can approximate
true cobalt (not well, I'd guess).

I think your comments about the student paints and hues in general are
dead on. Actually I had typed up a reply yesterday with similar thoughts,
but then decided not to post it. There's so much conflicting information
about the student vs professional paint issue. The biggest problem seems,
to me, to NOT be the quality of winton (for example) paints, but rather
the inconsistent/confusing/misleading labeling. Obviously when I was
first starting out several years ago I didn't know the difference between
cad yellow and cad yellow hue. Now I know, thanks mainly to having
access to the collective knowledge of people on WC.

By the way, when I first started, using the cheap winton paints allowed
me to not worry so much about "wasting" paint...which is my own
hangup, but I'm sure I'm not the only one. I am gradually transitioning
to artist-grade paints, but there are still a few wintons that I like.

Does this kind of technical talk scare people away? Maybe some...but you
can't be all things to all people. Pretty much every forum has enough to
scare away beginners, even if it's just the high quality of work that is
often posted. Took me a while to get the nerve to post some of my
stuff, I know that.

Chris

coh
08-19-2004, 04:22 PM
Michael wrote:


Anyway, great discussion. If anyone want to see the fruit of my
labors and need a good humor-filled moment. I can post a limited palette
painting of mine. You can be the judge.

Well, this certainly has to be your decision, but it's quite possible that
someone might be able to give you suggestions that could help you get
past this roadblock. I don't recall seeing any of your work posted on
any of these forums since I've been here...would love to see something!

Chris

Marc Hanson
08-19-2004, 10:50 PM
Marc S- My main problem with the Wintons of the world (understanding the cost advantage) is that they usually aren't of the strength as their pure version. As you answered Chris's comments about the Cobalt Hue, (which I agree with you completely on), a student isn't learning the full value of what a cadmium yellow will do if they are using a 'Hue'. If Chris was using the expensive 'sunny yellow', he probably wouldn't be complaining about the strength of the paint as much as a color choice or other situation.

I wanted to question Chris's conclusion that he could get a Cobalt from other pigments, but I haven't attempted that so I refrained from coming at it from that direction. But I can't imagine that to be a realistic solution. Not to say that in a painting that pthalo couldn't be used to create color that would suffice for a color that cobalt would also be used in. Seems antithetical to me though. Go get some Cobalt if that is what is needed.

I used to be very dependent on Cobalt blue light, I've used Rembrandt, Schmincke, and other manufacturer's cobalts that weren't named 'light' but maybe 'pale', or something else. In the end, it meant taking off the cap and seeing if it was close to what I needed. Then it required going into the studio and seeing if it would mix in the way that I needed. I'm just not sure that I would trust transferring the index # from one manufacturer to another. I need to see it on a palette and use it in mixture, #'s aside.

Concerning 'hues' vs pure pigments....one reason for using cadmiums is the saturation they have as a pigment. From my experience with substitutes, they are just that.....substitutes. If in a painting a substitute does the job needed...use the substitute. But as you mentioned Marc, if a student sees something done by someone using a pure cadmium yellow, and buys a hue and expects to get the same result, I'm afraid that they will struggle and be dissuaded. Knowing the pigment makeup isn't as important, I don't think, as knowing what 'hue' means, and that if you want to buy the pure cadmium yellow, buy professional paint from the paint manufacturers. In some sense, with regard to paint, you get what you pay for. Consequently, if economics is a primary concern, Winton or Grumbacher Pre-tested may be what is appropriate.

I don't disagree with alot of what you're saying about the value of information. But I have to say that from a practical standpoint of working with painters a couple days a week, if I mention pigment index #'s, I see 'glazed' eyes. This came up with me last spring when I was trying to edit my palette. I went to Gamblins Permanent Alizarin which is made of of 3 pigments, (Quin red PV9, perylenePV149, and ultramarinePB29). I decided that it made sense then to have those three plus a yellow. Why have Alizarin Permanent taking up space when I could have the individual benefits of each of it's components, but still have the ability to mix Alizarin P. with the three? This worked very well, and when I explained it to others, it was like explaining why ethanol and petrol did the same thing. Most are just interested in the results of what it does in mixture, not the makeup. "Will this make my car go? OK, put it in the tank!" I realize that you and I and others are interested, but many, many aren't.

Love M.Graham, they make up most of my palette. But those are the kind of things I tell students, about quality, consistency and so on. I expect them to find out some of this on their own. No one told me everything either and I'm thankfull for that. Much of what I've learned has been through trial and error, the finest teaching tool available.

Well, of course. And sorry if I gave the impression that the purpose of this discussion should be to give everyone the One Right Pigment List so they wouldn't have to experiment. It's more about giving people some useful information to help them guide their experiments. For instance, someone looking for alternatives to cadmium red can peruse these these discussions, see which pigments are mentioned as possible substitutes, make a note of what the differences are claimed to be, then go out and buy a couple of tubes and play with them with those discussions in mind.

Absolutely Marc. I would hope that is what a motivated student of this craft would do. I in the last year have substituted Gamblin's Hansa yellow deep for my cherished cadmium yellow deep and am more than happy with it. Now, I know that the Hansa Y Deep is Arylide yellow(because I looked :wink2: ), but the reason I am using it is because I was looking for a warm reddish yellow that was less expensive than Cad Yellow Deep. When I found Hansa yellow deep, at first I was dissapointed that it didn't have the tinting strength of CYD. Since, I have come to see that as an advantage. It still is a great warmer, but it isn't as influential as Cad Yellow deep. I still couldn't tell you the #( well I could because I have the table right here). I took off a lot of caps at my paint purveyor's store until I found something that looked similar. Then I checked to see what I was buying by the #'s. Permenance looked good, mixing properties were good, so I'm now a convert and wealthier for it.

By the way Marc, why did your parents spell your name with a 'c'? Mine had a friend with the spelling and I guess thought it would be a good way to torture me for the rest of my life!!! :wink2: Just kidding, they wanted me to be different..........it worked!

Michael24
08-20-2004, 04:38 PM
Michael wrote:

Well, this certainly has to be your decision, but it's quite possible that
someone might be able to give you suggestions that could help you get
past this roadblock. I don't recall seeing any of your work posted on
any of these forums since I've been here...would love to see something!

Chris

Thanks Chris, Here it is at your request. Anyway we needed a pause from the words for a picture....

Limited palette of Cad. yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine blue, Phthalo Green and Raw Umber as a guest color. I could not have done the foreground without it. OH, sorry I cheated a bit. I did a Sap Green glaze over the trees and used my limited palette ultramarine blue for a glaze on the lake.


Have a great weekend.

Michael Skalka, Nat. Gallery of Art. Wash. Dc

Yellowstone Lake at West Thumb Geyser Basin, 2004

WFMartin
08-21-2004, 01:28 PM
Michael,

Boy, you really do some fine work! I've probably been very close to the spot depicted in your painting, several years ago. Isn't it beautiful there?

You mentioned your "learning curve" a few posts ago, and your desire to shorten it. That makes sense. As a practical oil and watercolor painter, as well as a color "theorist", I can see some of the aspects of fine art which may require years of experience and practice, whereas there are many aspects which can be learned from competent teaching, thus shortening the "learning curve".

The understanding of color, and how it behaves is, indeed, one of those items which can simply be learned, thus shortening the learning curve. As an example, I'd like to offer my own observations regarding this. When I worked as a color separator for a lithographer, I learned whatever "theory" of color and how color actually behaves that I now possess. I learned it from seminars and textbooks. The point is that I did not have to play with its characteristics for years in order to learn how color behaves. Most importantly, I did not have to re-learn the behavior of color when I began using oils and watercolors as mediums, instead of printing inks. The mixing of oils and watercolor paints rather came second nature to me, and it was actually one aspect of the creation of "fine art" that I didn't have to bother learning, when I began using these mediums. "Color" does not change the way it behaves when changing from one medium to another, so I discovered that I already knew much of this information when I got involved in fine art.

Now, what we all are discussing in this thread is how pigments behave. This is an entirely different aspect, and, in my opinion, involves some degree of experience, in combination with knowledge. Such considerations as pigment ID numbers, single pigment colors, overtones, tinting strength, mixing capabilities, student grade vs. professional grade paints, Cobalt Blue compared to Cobalt Blue Hue, etc. all are pigment considerations, and not color behavior considerations at all.

For example, the fact that Grumbacher Cadmium Barium Orange exhibits an overtone when mixed with white, which sends it in the "red" direction is an example of pigment knowledge, based upon experience. No rules of color theory have been violated, as this seemingly unusual characteristic is the result of pigment behavior, and not color behavior, as far as theory is concerned. The resulting pink color produced by mixing Cad Orange with white is as identifiable as any other color in the world, and just as capable of being scientifically analyzed, for the purpose of plotting it on a color wheel. In fact, I once did exactly that.

The point I'm trying to make is that, in an attempt to shorten a learning curve, pick those items which are fully capable of being learned (or being taught) effectively, and use these items to thereby shorten your learning curve. An "overtone" that a color may exhibit, when mixed with white, is a pigment behavior which seems a bit contradictory in its effect, but it's the knowledge of color theory which allows one to deal with the effect easily, and, without hours of experimentation, to mix in an additional correct color to reduce the unusual effect, thus producing a "light orange" from Cad. Orange, instead of "pink", when mixing it with white.

So, try shortening your learning curve by learing those subjects which will never change. These are the aspects dealing with laws of physics such as the behavior of color. Pigments may change, but the scientific behavior of color will remain constant long after you and I have left this earth. ;)

Bill

Marc Sabatella
08-22-2004, 05:36 PM
Marc S- My main problem with the Wintons of the world (understanding the cost advantage) is that they usually aren't of the strength as their pure version. As you answered Chris's comments about the Cobalt Hue, (which I agree with you completely on), a student isn't learning the full value of what a cadmium yellow will do if they are using a 'Hue'.


One piece of advice I have heard - more regarding companies like Utrecht than Winton - is to go ahead and use cheap brands for cheaper pigments, and better brands for more expensive pigments. The theory being that burnt sienna pigment (for instance) is cheap enough that there is no great incentive to skimp on it even when manufacturing inexpensive paint. So a cheap burnt sienna is likely about as good as a more expensive one, at leats in terms of pigment content. It is in the cobalts and so forth that the cheaper brands will skimp or out and out substitute pigments.

Now, I've never actually used any student grade paints. My assumption, though, is that *if* you make the effort to buy only colors made from inexpensive pigments, and know what pigments you are getting so you can eventually buy artist grade paint of the same pigment if you like, you'll probably do OK. If everything on your palette is a little weak in pigment load, at least things will be be basically right relatively speaking.


I'm just not sure that I would trust transferring the index # from one manufacturer to another. I need to see it on a palette and use it in mixture, #'s aside.


Absolutely. I'm just talking about using this as one piece of data.


Knowing the pigment makeup isn't as important, I don't think, as knowing what 'hue' means, and that if you want to buy the pure cadmium yellow, buy professional paint from the paint manufacturers.


But if you *don't* care one way or the other about cadmium, and read here that arylide is a nice yellow, that "cadmium yellow hue" might end up being exactly what the doctor ordered.


Now, I know that the Hansa Y Deep is Arylide yellow(because I looked :wink2: ), but the reason I am using it is because I was looking for a warm reddish yellow that was less expensive than Cad Yellow Deep. When I found Hansa yellow deep, at first I was dissapointed that it didn't have the tinting strength of CYD. Since, I have come to see that as an advantage. It still is a great warmer, but it isn't as influential as Cad Yellow deep. I still couldn't tell you the #( well I could because I have the table right here).


Similar story here, except with one difference: when thinking about replacing cadmium with something cheaper - and I actually wanted it to be more transparent as well - I asked here on Wetcanvas for suggestions. In fact, that may well be the very thing that brought me here - doing a web search for information on substitutes for cadmium yellow brought me to a thread on one fo the forums here. I think. Anyhow, the response I got when I posted here was that some of the arylide pigments could be worth checking out. I think PY74 was the specific one most recommended, and I remember that number precisely because it did come up and was relevant. But that may be the only paint I have used that I do remember the pigment number for. No, I take it back - I remember that the quinacridone I use is PV19, and I remember this for pretty much the same reason - I actually needed that info at one time, and it stuck. Again, I am not saying there is any reason to look at or think about these numbers *except* in the relatively rare times when they become relevant.


By the way Marc, why did your parents spell your name with a 'c'? Mine had a friend with the spelling and I guess thought it would be a good way to torture me for the rest of my life!!! :wink2: Just kidding, they wanted me to be different..........it worked!

My parents don't have a specific reason, it seems. Actually, I was supposed to be Michael right up to the day my mother went to the hospital, but then she changed her mind at the last minute and decided she didn't want me being called "Mike". So she chose another name that couldn't be shortened. My mother is French-Canadian, and I gather Marc is a more common spelling in that world.

I like it because it is an easy way to figure out who your real friends are - or at least, who cares enough to get these things right. When I get something addressed to "Mark", right away, I know something about the person who sent it. And it's made me make an extra effort to get other people's names right.

Michael24
08-23-2004, 08:52 AM
Marc H. wrote:
And if I were painting in Velasquez's time, and I had to grind or have my pigments ground for me, I'd need to know too. There are painters who like doing that still, it's not for everyone! When it came to the paint hitting the canvas though, I'd doubt that even Velasquez was thinking, "Should I use PY37 or PY75?" There wasn't a Color Index, he and other innovators worked by what they Assumed to be permanent(and that was disasterous for many of the pigments they used), available, and perhaps Most important...what gave them the results they were after.

Marc: Your comment brought to mind the history of pigment development.

Unfortunately, all painters now and in the not too distant past have worked in the dark in terms of knowing what was contained in the pigments they were using. Artists have complained in diaries and letters through the ages about the quality of the colorants they used. Adulteration of pigment has been a long-standing problem. Seventeenth century artists complained that what they thought to be mercuric sulphide (true vermilion) turned out to be red lead or red ochre. George Field's *Grammar of Color* 1877 discusses vermilion and states *When red or orange lead has been substituted for or used in adulterating vermilion, muriatic acid applied to such pigments will turn them ore or less white or grey:*

English painters, especially in London knew the reactions of certain pigments with each other and stated which to avoid mixing. Highly questionable practices by English colormen of the nineteenth century involved adulteration, addition of dryers that cracked, pigments that were high fugitive, pigments that never fully dried and other pitfalls were documented then and are still being uncovered and observed today in paintings that display these faults.

The impressionist complained about Parisian colormen and the weakness or inconsistency of certain colors. We know the famous letter of vanGogh to his brother Theo in complaining about paints.

We are still being *sold* today on magic elixirs that claim to have substantial roots in the late 19th and early 20th century. Even though the scientific research community related to the arts can see the detrimental effects of lead and natural resin concoctions on paintings from the last two centuries, artists are still being drawn into believing that these things are good for paintings. Simply put, when materials have inherent flaws, just because you combine them with colorants or other resins, does not eradicate their flaws and render them harmless. (That is a discussion for a different thread)

ASTM has done much to help artists in leveling the playing field. We have pigment labeling. We use the term hue when identifying substitute colors for traditional single pigment mixtures. We have lightfastness ratings. We have health and safety labeling (That was a US Govt. mandate) So we have come a long way. We still come up against paints that are doctored to intensify chroma and those that donít conform to ASTM guidelines. Hey, itís voluntary. Manufacturers are not required to belong. So, vote with your pocketbooks and support manufacturers that provide good labeling, have helpful web site support, and answers questions posed to them in a clear concise manner.

Bill: Thanks for the comments. Yellowstone is an amazing place.

Michael Skalka, Nat. Gallery of Art. Wash.DC

Patrick1
08-23-2004, 11:10 AM
We still come up against paints that are doctored to intensify chroma...

Michael, do you mean colours that have other pigments added that aren't listed...for example boosting cobalt or ultramrine blue with phthalo blue? Do some paints made today contain dyes to boost chroma? Nice painting BTW.

Michael24
08-23-2004, 01:09 PM
Michael, do you mean colours that have other pigments added that aren't listed...for example boosting cobalt or ultramrine blue with phthalo blue? Do some paints made today contain dyes to boost chroma? Nice painting BTW.

Patrick:

Right now this could be the current urban myth. People wisper about the thought that some brands are being doped with enhancements, just as you stated in you example, but I have seen no physical proof. The suspicion has arisen because the price for a color seemed too good to be believable, in other cases it has been the physical appearance of a paint and its stated pigment on the package.

It would be interesting to know for sure. If I could do some tests, I am not sure how I could handle the information as it could have some intriguing legal implications. I think I will just go back to doing spectra on paints and calculating Munsell values.

Thanks for the comment on my painting. That is a 12 x 18 and one of the first ones I have done after a very long hiatus from painting. It is almost like riding a bicycle only the act of painting has more pedals and the vehicle can go in 4 different directions, sometimes at the same time!!!

Michael Skalka, Nat.Gallery of Art, Wash.DC

scribblet
08-23-2004, 02:47 PM
Michael, consider the source! Mixing earth tones is not KM's forte, nor does his palette lend itself to doing that with ease. I think you're in for a tough ride with those colors, considering your particular taste in style/color for your own work. (Am I wrong about that?)



Michael, what about trying the limited palette that Scott Christensen uses (and Marc Hanson too), and then use that as a basis for determining what additional colors you would need to satisfy your own aesthetic sense? He uses:
French Ultramarine or Ultramarine Deep
Cad Yellow Lemon
Rembrandt Permanent Red Medium (blend of two pyrrole reds, or you could try substituting a napthol)
TiO2


Jamie
Hi, new hear, especially to colour theory, does it have to be so comples?

However, I'm confused about ultramarine - is there a difference between french ultramarine and ultramarine? W/N only has ultramarine I believe.

Also, I have a couple of books, one says Ultramarine is warm and the other says it is cool. Can someone confirm this for me.
much appreciated

Richard Saylor
08-23-2004, 03:42 PM
Hi, new hear, especially to colour theory, does it have to be so comples?
If you want to know that blue and yellow make green, it's pretty simple. If you want to know why blue and yellow make green, it gets more complicated. If you don't want it to be complex, don't read my small print below.
However, I'm confused about ultramarine - is there a difference between french ultramarine and ultramarine? W/N only has ultramarine I believe.
W&N and Grumbacher, among others, have a French Ultramarine. Da Vinci and others make what they call Ultramarine Blue. They are supposed to be the same color. Both French Ultramarine and Ultramarine have the same CI Name PB29 and CI Number 77007.
Also, I have a couple of books, one says Ultramarine is warm and the other says it is cool. Can someone confirm this for me.
much appreciated
There are differences of opinion on that. I think the warm and cool designations are inappropriate for different blues like Ultramarine or Pthalo. If a middle blue is considered the coolest color on the color wheel, then Ultramarine (on the red side of middle blue) is warmer, but also Pthalo (on the green side of middle blue) is warmer. A comparison of Ultramarine and Pthalo in terms of color temperature would be more a matter of opinion than hard fact.

Michael24
08-23-2004, 05:04 PM
Richard:

I am confused too.

According to F.W. Weber: (1923) Artificial Ultramarine has been defined as French Blue, French Ultramarine, New Blue, Permanent Blue, Oriental Blue, Bemlins Blue Guimet's Blue, Bleu d'Azure are all the same chemical composition: sodium alumino-silicate with sulphur. I have seen Ultramarine Blue Deep and Ultramarine Blue and French Ultramarine on tubes of modern colors. However, I have never come across the term French or Non-French differentiating a chroma or hue difference.

Jamie, what's the story?

More Later,

Michael Skalka, Nat. Gallery of Art, Wash.DC

JamieWG
08-23-2004, 06:18 PM
Hi Michael and everyone. What an interesting thread this has become in my absence! I'm just back from a spectacular week on Mt. Desert Island and missed all the fun here. ;)

Williamsburg is an example of a company that makes both an ultramarine and a french ultra. You can see them listed here on their website:
http://www.williamsburgoilpaint.bizland.com/OilColors/Blueoils.htm

There are others too; in fact, I think some companies make as many as three ultramarines. Yes, they're all PB29. I seem to recall reading that the pigments come from different stages in the processing, but I'll double-check that later. French is generally a bit redder. Back to making dinner.....

Jamie

Einion
08-23-2004, 08:52 PM
I'm busy preparing for a show at the moment but I have time for a quick post. Great discussion in this thread all, it's great how a given topic can lead into other interesting areas.

I am confused too.... I have seen Ultramarine Blue Deep and Ultramarine Blue and French Ultramarine on tubes of modern colors. However, I have never come across the term French or Non-French differentiating a chroma or hue difference.
Hi Michael, there is no hard-and-fast rule with regard the naming system for variations in French Ultramarine, just as there isn't for various names for lead white.

In general, if you see a range that has both Ultramarine and French Ultramarine listed the latter will be more violet in hue. The same is true for a range including Ultramarine and Ultramarine Deep, the latter name being another way of differentiating the hue. If you see a range that only includes French Ultramarine, well then you're stuck as the hue could be anywhere on the range this pigment is capable of producing!

W/N only has ultramarine I believe.
Hi, W&N do offer both ends of the spectrum for this colour in oils, as French Ultramarine and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Liquitex do something very similar to distinguish the hues, with French Ultramarine Blue and Ultramarine Blue (Green Shade). Anyway, regardless of the naming practice until you get the paint in your hands and under your brush there's no real way of getting a firm idea of how it might compare to what you've used before, but at least this is a cheap colour :) With Liquitex we have the Munsell colour data to go on to give a rough idea of the variation in hue which is useful if you can get your head around it.

The name shouldn't really have ever been shortened since of course all versions are 'French Ultramarine', the synthetic equivalent developed to win a French government prize. I would guess when the real thing made its swift departure from maker's ranges (and at the equivalent of a year's wages for a single tube any wonder!) it was all too easy to just shorten the name to one word.

Jamie, more violet ;)

Einion