View Full Version : very limited earth palette
05-23-2002, 06:24 AM
I prefer strong colors, but I want to try a very limited earth palette to see if it's possible to have a lively, colorful painting using only 'dull' earth colors. I haven't yet done the painting, but here's the four colours I'll use:
-yellow ochre as the yellow
-burnt sienna as the 'red'
-titanium white + mars black as the 'blue'
The yellow ochre I used (Grumbacher MAX) is a mixture of natural and synthetic. So is the burnt sienna (W&N Artisan).
If there is a swatch to the right of a color, it's that color + titanium white.
-I indeed got a 'green' by mixing yellow ochre + black. Don't know how that's possible...if anyone knows, I'd like to know. I'm hoping it can be used for foliage.
-the mars black + titanium white did indeed give a semblance of blue, although the actual swatch is bluer than the scan shows. (Compare it to pure mars black).
-the 'purple' didn't turn out purple, not surprising, but surrounded by the other colors, it does seem to have a very very subtle purple to it.
-burnt sienna + titanium white makes a beautiful orangy pink, almost like a flesh tone.
-burnt sienna + mars black makes a good 'burnt umber'...after seeing this, I probably won't be replacing my burnt umber when I finish it.
-burnt sienna + yellow ochre make a nice orange (love that combination).
-yellow ochre + titanium white gives a beautiful, soft yellow.
I could probably get better 'blues' buy using lamp/carbon black instead. I'm tempted to try red oxide instead of burnt sienna since it's redder, but I don't know if there is any that is so transparent as the Artisan b. sienna I used here. I wonder if trying a fully synthetic yellow ochre (which is less orangy, more greenish) whould be detrimental to the oranges. I'm not willing to get better greens at the expense of oranges.
05-23-2002, 08:14 PM
Thanks for sharing that Domer. I found it very clear and interesting.:cool: :angel:
05-31-2002, 03:33 AM
Hi Patrick, been neglecting this forum of late, thought I would chime in with some observations.
Depending on how the synthetic Burnt Sienna compares to the real thing, Red Oxide would function as a much better red. My natural BS is far more orange in masstone and tint than either of the two Red Oxides I have, it certainly mixes a better violet with Mars Black and a touch of white, but it is far more opaque which you mentioned you didn't want
From what I have seen firsthand of synthetic Yellow Ochres, basically forms of Mars Yellow, most are more orange, not less, than the natural pigment. They tend to be more opaque too but this can obviously vary.
As you know I have a number of blacks and generally speaking the difference between the tints is really slight unless you have a very discerning eye, but some Bone Blacks are warmer because of impurities. FWIW you might like to try glazing the white over the black, see if this makes for a cooler effect.
If you think about it, you know why Yellow Ochre and black mix to a green (as do all yellows when mixed with black). Similarly to blue and yellow not mixing to give green directly, but the green component of each surviving the subtractive process... and so forth. This is probably my favourite illustration of the limitations of standard colour theory, which can't of course predict mixes like this. If your mix is like mine using real Yellow Ochre, the green is very olive, but in a low-chroma painting of the type you will get with this palette it should function well.
I was actually experimenting with fleshtones the other day using Red Oxide, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White, with tiny touches of Quin Rose for cool touches like lips and cheeks. For many subjects this would be more than adequate, which is of course no surprise considering early painters used much the same palette with great success. As you might recall I use Cerulean Blue in my normal fleshtone mixes, but with low-chroma starting colours a neutraliser is not really necessary for the basic mixes; for halftones though I compared Cerulean Blue with a neutral grey of the same value and there was surprisingly little difference in the outcome, although the mix using the blue might be more noticeable in a finished painting with low overall chroma.
06-01-2002, 07:31 PM
Mario, glad you liked it. I'm still surprised how many colors I can get from only two earth colors plus black & white. Now I just wonder if it'll give the illusion of all the hues around the color wheel (or close) in practise.
Einion, I read somewhere that synthetic yellow ochre/yellow oxide is slightly greener, less orangy than natural (wish I could remember), and looking at my Golden chart, that's the case; Yellow Oxide is very slightly, but noticably more yellowish/greenish than Yellow Ochre.
Funny thing; that chart has four colors almost identical
Not to mention transparent yellow oxide and nickel azo yellow (I know, these two are quite different, but still, I think Golden over-did it a little with these brownish yellows!)
About yellow and black making green; I can only assume that of the little light that blacks do reflect, it's mostly in the green or blue range. But why that is, I still don't know. After all, it's black, which is supposed to be pretty neutral. Maybe it's because the eye is most sensitive to green light, but, nope...don't know. Please tell me if you know! I'll try a search in a minute to see if I can find the answer.
That 'green' I got would seem to be a great multi-use camoflage color.
I have a question, if you don't mind (going off on a tangent): I know that in acrylics and watercolors, when the paint dries, you lose saturation (often significant). I defininely notice that myself; I was excited how a wet acrylic mixture of phthalo blue GS + quin. magenta gave me 'ultramarine blue', only to be disappointed that when it dries, it's not really even close.
But what about oils, since they don't dry by evaporation...maybe they always look 'wetted', thus don't lose saturation? (Maybe this is why oil paintings seem to have more more intensity and depth of color than acrylics and watercolors). I'm hoping oils will allow color mixtures that in practise more closely match what theory says you can do.
06-09-2002, 11:27 AM
Hi Patrick, I agree about those Golden earths, I was surprised just how close in hue they are when I got the colour chart. And what about their Nickel Azo Yellow, it looks so much like Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide I can't see any reason to fork out for the more expensive one. Ditto with Quinacridone Gold and Transparent Red Iron Oxide, the former is series 7, the same price as Cerulean Blue!
How does their Orange Oxide compare to Yellow Ochre on yours? On mine they are darn close, the first is more opaque but otherwise there is little to choose between the two. As you know it's difficult to make generalisations with earths but their Yellow Ochre is much different from the hue I prefer for this colour, in fact it is pretty much what I would expect Mars Yellow to be (nothing like the dull orange they offer as Mars Yellow). Conversely their Yellow Oxide is close to what I would expect Yellow Ochre to be. These are some of the reasons I prefer the earths from W&N which are more intelligently assigned. I especially don't like Golden's Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna which are not nearly as transparent as they should be, although they do make up for this by offering their stunning transparent oxides.
Synthetic yellow oxides (like earths in general) vary enormously, as can be seen by the differences between Yellow Oxide, Orange Oxide and Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide which are all nominally the same pigment, PY42. This used to be simply Mars Yellow (which Golden don't actually use PY42 for, for some strange reason!) but these days PY42 essentially defines nothing more than its synthetic origin and says nothing about hue or other properties. This and its cousin PR101 make up perhaps the most vague pigment names - it's hard to believe the same number can define Red Oxide and Transparent Red Iron Oxide isn't it?!
Interesting that you mention camo, I found out recently that black plus an ochre is what they make US military Olive Drab from.
Don't mind the tangent at all. Loss of saturation in watercolours happens for a number of interconnected reasons but mostly, with the evaporation of the water, the refractive index drops significantly. The pigment particles also sink into the paper and there is settling out of the smallest particles to the surface and smaller particles generally give a duller and paler finish; this is why the scrubbing technique you employed in your early swatches is preferable to washes to show undercolour. These all combine to give the large drying shifts exhibited in this medium.
In acrylics the evaporation of the water lowers the refractive index in the paint film because the index of water is higher than that of acrylic medium. In addition, if the paint dries matt there is a scattering effect which lowers apparent chroma. Anyway, you have Liquitex Ultramarine don't you? If you paint a swatch of it and let it dry, it should look pretty dull too since Ultramarine tends to dry fairly matt. If you then take a wet finger and rub it over half the swatch, see how much more saturated it becomes? If you varnish your mixture it should do much the same..
Oil paints too can lose saturation when they dry, this is exactly what people complain about if their painting 'sinks', due to an over-absorbent ground for instance. Generally though, the high refractive index of dry linseed oil ensures that oil colours dry much closer to their wet appearance than other mediums. Just to correct something, oils do dry by evaporation initially - there is a small volatile component in linseed oil even without the addition of any spirits. Evaporation is followed by oxidation, which we commonly think of as 'drying'.
FWIW in my experience oil and acrylic mixtures can be used pretty much interchangeably, I got the vast majority of my early mixing routines from oil books and didn't have any trouble using them with acrylics. Some colours are darker-valued and slightly more saturated in oils because of different wetting characteristics and the higher refractive index of linseed oil over acrylic polymer, but opaque colours in particular can be impossible to tell apart given equal surface finish.
06-10-2002, 08:59 AM
Originally posted by Einion
And what about their Nickel Azo Yellow, it looks so much like Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide I can't see any reason to fork out for the more expensive one.
In undertone they look virtually idnentical. But in masstone, the nickel is clearly greener. But yes...I wouldn't pay so much more for the nickel azo when it's not a whole lot different. Boy, that transparent yellow iron oxide is impressive...such a clean yellow for an 'earth color'.
Ditto with Quinacridone Gold and Transparent Red Iron Oxide, the former is series 7, the same price as Cerulean Blue!
Hmm. To me the orange oxide is clearly less brown, more orange, more yellowish. You could probably appriximate it with trans. red iron oxide plus a bit of a transparent yellow-orange. Myabe not in transparency, but close. That reminds me of Daniel Smith. They make very good acrylics, but they have so many 'convenience mixtures' that anybody could mix themselves. They want you to think in terms of the colors you want rather than the pigments you need. (moonglow, moonshine, sunglow, blue radiance, shadow umber, quinizarin, silvermist,
celtic green...I made most of those up but you know what I mean). Then again, many other paint makeers are like that, but it's just disappointing from a good paint maker like DS...it kindof goes against the philosophy of solid art/color fundamentals. Plus how will you ever learn to mix color yourself?
How does their Orange Oxide compare to Yellow Ochre on yours?
Slightly more orangy...very close to their raw sienna, at least in hue. Would make a good red shade yellow :)
I also was surprised by the opacity of Golden's burnt sienna. Compared to W&N's, this is dull looking; no depth, no fire. But maybe it's purposely that way because they have the stunning trans. red oxide if you want transparency. Next time I restock burnt sienna, I'll get the most transparent, redish one I can find...probably Golden. I'll check out W&N too.
I agree that the naming for iron oxides is confusing; this is a case where knowing the pigment number doesn't tell you everything...maybe it should. After all, I htought that that's why theyy started naming pigments...so you know what you're getting. Chemical composition doesn't tell the whole story. An icecube and cloud aren't the same thing :rolleyes:
Interesting that you mention camo, I found out recently that black plus an ochre is what they make US military Olive Drab from.
Wow...I never knew. I just looked at it and thought "wow...that'd be a perfect, dirt-cheap camo color for both vegeatation and desert, if you had to have one color that can do both." Funny thing; I used to think that chromium oxide green was a very dull green. Don't anymore.
That's interesting about oil paintings sinking into the surface. That seems to be much worse with canvas panels than stretched canvas. (I don't paint on canvas panels any more...they warp...often badly, esp with acrylics.) I have one oil painting on a canvas board where most of the painting sunk in and is dull, but I used a lot of linseed oil over one part (in fact I even 'glazed' it over while painting..I wanted a glossy look) and that's the only part that reatained its beautiful, glossy color. The color looks so much deeper and saturated than the other parts.
You're right about oil paintings losing saturation
just from 'drying'...never realized it until you explaned it. The colors of a wet oil painting (especially with a lot of linseed oil used) looks soooo rich and deep in the first few days. But once it's dry (even if it hasn't sunk in), most of that richness is lost.
06-10-2002, 11:24 AM
I smudged some water over my dried ultramarine blue, and it really does make an improvement in saturation. I suppose it wouldn't make any difference in a glossy paint film. Next time I do an acrylic painting I like I'll varnish it.
06-10-2002, 11:57 AM
Hi All, so , what is the answer to the OIL paintings "sinking in"?? How about a last coat being accompanied by stand oil as a medium? Any suggestions?? Varnishing can be so capriscious...I am looking for ways to make that finished painting look good...I paint alla prima and opaquely. thanks for any replies.
06-15-2002, 02:37 PM
Hi Mario, it sounds like you've experienced problems with varnishing in the past, anything specific?
If one cares about how one's paintings will do over time then you have to protect them somehow - you either varnish or frame behind glass, those are the only two options - and personally I would varnish if at all possible, in fact I would paint specifically to allow varnishing! It's not the simplest task it's true, but it's the best way and it adds so much to a completed work in depth that it's hard to fault.
06-15-2002, 03:46 PM
Originally posted by Domer
To me the [Quinacridone Gold] is clearly less brown, more orange, more yellowish. You could probably appriximate it with trans. red iron oxide plus a bit of a transparent yellow-orange. Myabe not in transparency, but close.
I was thinking of exactly the same mix, in fact on mine chart it looks like the mix might even have the edge in transparency.
Originally posted by Domer
[B]That reminds me of Daniel Smith. They make very good acrylics, but they have so many 'convenience mixtures' that anybody could mix themselves. They want you to think in terms of the colors you want rather than the pigments you need... Then again, many other paint makeers are like that, but it's just disappointing from a good paint maker like DS...it kindof goes against the philosophy of solid art/color fundamentals. Plus how will you ever learn to mix color yourself?[B]
I agree completely about convenience mixes, although I would now accept that with greens two or three might be a good idea, in general it sends the wrong kind of message "Here, you can't mix this so we'll hand it to you on a platter." Well, as we know, it is often child's play to do just that - I mean come on, Ultramarine and black, how hard can it be?! :) As you probably know this is one of my major gripes about Old Holland, their range is simply vast but it's basically arrived at from only 65 pigments or so, which is way more colours than anybody needs anyway! If a paint range is geared towards the hobbyist or what have you, then fine, I can see the reasoning - after all the people Delta Ceramcoat is aimed at can't be expected to know how to mix colour - but when the paint is supposedly aimed at artists... well gee, we are, aren't we?
I know what you mean about Chromium Oxide Green, when you get down to it it's actually pretty saturated - just a matter of perspective. I actually didn't buy Winsor & Newton's version last year because it was too saturated, as well as being more blue-biased, and I specifically wanted the typical version of the pigment.
The loss of 'richness' when the surface of an oil painting has oxidised is what prompts many to use resins and other mediums to increase gloss and depth when simply varnishing with something like dammar can achieve many of the same effects without the attendant problemsl.
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