View Full Version : Cadmium watercolor paints

05-09-2001, 04:24 PM
Since starting watercolor painting some months ago I've basically stuck with transparent pigments. Now I'd like to venture out and try cadmium red, orange and yellow. However, I'm confused about what should and shouldn't be mixed with the cadmiums. Will mixing two cadmium pigments result in mud or increased opacity? Also, which ones are the most useful eg cadmium yellow pale vs cadmium yellow medium. Any tips/advice would be really appreciated. Thanks.

05-10-2001, 07:38 AM
It's my understanding that mixes using
opaque colors will be duller than if it were mixed using similar transparent colors. How much? Probably not a huge amount. Whether or not you get mud by mixing cadmium pigments,or
any others, depends largely on how far apart they are on the color wheel.
Cad yellow pale is a kindof lemony yellow,while cad yellow medium is a little more orangy. The pale is better for mixing greens, the medium better for mixing oranges.
If I had to choose one of these two yellows, I'd take the pale (closer to true primary yellow).


* Beer is good. *

05-11-2001, 09:08 AM
Excellent question Lise! You may want to try for answers to this question in the Watercolor forum as well.

As for myself, I find using the cadmiums to be in a pain, as they mud up too quickly for me, they don't seem to have the transparency and the brilliancy that I like. Instead they just seem DULL. But that is just my opinion, I've heard some good things about using cadmiums, but they are not for me!


"Baby, keep smilin', you know the sun is shinin'" Lou Bega

05-11-2001, 08:28 PM
I don't use my cadmium colors nearly as much as other colors, still, they are really nice for some things. I've found they are at their most brilliant when they are used alone as pure colors. In mixes they muddy up quickly. I've found that cadmium yellow medium to be too orange for most of my needs. It mixes dull green. It does mix nice oranges, but I just don't use orange much in my paintings. I've been reading "Painting Nature's Peacful Places" by Robert Reynolds. He uses lots of cadmium colors, in beautiful glowing paintings. I'm trying to figure out how he does it. You can see his paintings at

Here's some paintings I've done with cadmium:

<IMG SRC="http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-May-2001/Eliz_WigglyBeasts.JPG" border=0>

In this picture, the main wiggly creature is pure cadmium red, the darker beasts have been mixed with permanent magenta and a little thallo blue. Even a little of the magenta dulls the color a lot.

<IMG SRC="http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-May-2001/Eliz_Aspen.JPG" border=0>

Here, I first tried to paint the leaves with lemon yellow, but the tiny yellow leaves just didn't show up against the sky. The cadmium yellow light has more body, and made the leaves pop out.

<IMG SRC="http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-May-2001/Eliz_SecondaryTriad.JPG" border=0>

This is a study I did right after buying myself some new colors. It uses cadmium orange, viridian, and diox purple.

[This message has been edited by Eliz (edited May 11, 2001).]

05-15-2001, 07:38 AM
Thank you Domer, Ivyleaf and Eliz for your replies. Eliz, your paintings are beautiful! Thank you for sharing them. I especially like the birch tree. I'm looking forward to trying out my cadmium paints now.