Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Palette

Okay, the idea is for me to take a look at the colors I tend to reach for most often. I think it is fairly obvious that I approach paint with the idea of color mixing. I also am intrigued with the way I interact with color in regards to the different mediums that I use. Coming from an oil painting background, then moving onto pastels, and now working mostly with encaustic, it is fascinating how I tend to use the same paint colors but in very different ways. In oils, I mixed on a palette, in pastels I created optical mixes and with encaustic I am enjoying using the paint as is. Sometimes I extend with medium, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I mix and sometimes I don't. What I find most interesting is that it really doesn't matter what medium I'm working in, I tend to go to the same colors and I believe that speaks to the uniqueness of the artist.  Here is a list of the pigments I have enjoyed working with in the various mediums, but most especially in encaustic. 

Alizarin Crimson 
PIGMENT: Anthraquinone Aluminum Hydrate Alizarin Crimson is a deep transparent red much like a bordeaux with a warm undertone. Alizarin Crimson has a moderately strong tinting strength. While Alizarin Crimson leans to the bluer side on the color wheel, I enjoy the warm undertones are revealed when extended with medium. Alizarin Crimson does not have an excellent lightfast rating, so just be aware of that. 

Anthraquinone Blue
Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: Indanthrone
Anthraquinone Blue is a very dark, transparent blue pigment. It has a moderately strong tinting strength, yet is easily controlled when creating mixes. Also known as Indanthrone Blue, this blue is more commonly associated with an indigo. This blue is reminiscent of the night sky when extended with wax medium, maintaining lots of depth and richness as well.  Even though it has a slightly reddish cast it is equally suited to mixing deep purples as well as deep greens. When mixed with white it tends to grey out quickly to a "navy", and if bluish grey is what you are looking for, try mixing it with any of the umbers. It has completely different properties than the Phthalo Blues, Ultramarine or Prussian Blue.

Anthraquinone Orange

Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: Anthraquinone Orange
Anthraquinone Orange is a deep, cool, semi-transparent orange with a very high tinting strength. This pigment is an excellent addition to the palette where the desire is to mix vibrant transparent colors. Because of the transparent nature of this pigment, glazing is easily achieved. Mixing with other transparent colors such as Bismuth Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, and Quinacridone Red will result in extremely intense warm hues. Add a touch of white for instant cooling effects. Mixed with it’s compliment of Phthalo Blue Green Shade will result in the darkest chocolate tone, an optical black.

Bismuth Yellow
Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: Bismuth Vanadate Yellow
Bismuth Yellow is a very clean, vibrant yellow with a high tinting strength and it is semi-transparent. Bismuth Yellow is great for mixing because of its natural clarity. It is an alternative to Cadmium Yellow Light, which it is most similar. The difference being that Cadmium Yellow Light is opaque and Bismuth is slightly cooler and when used to mix with other transparent paints you will maintain translucency suitable for washes of color.

Cadmium Red Vermilion
Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: CP Cadmium Sulf-Selenide 
Cadmium Red Vermillion is an intense and vibrant orange-red. It is opaque and has a strong tinting strength. This same pigment is used in other art mediums and frequently referred to as Scarlet Red or Scarlet Vermillion. Cadmium Red Vermillion is a single pigment that fits naturally between Cadmium Orange and Cadmium Red Light. I love to use this paint especially when I am printing with encaustic paint. 

Cadmium Yellow Deep
Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: CP Cadmium Sulfide
Cadmium Yellow Deep like all other cadmiums is a dense pigment.  It is right on the cusp of being referred to as an orange. It has a strong tinting strength, but is mellow enough to use straight. It is an opaque pigment, even still, it can make a clean glaze where it tends more towards a yellow hue than orange.

Cobalt Green Light
Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: Cobalt Titinate Green Spinel
Cobalt Green Light is semi-transparent and has a low tinting strength. This is one of my all time favorites. A very mellow green that is perfect just the way it is, no need to alter this color in my book. This is a single pigment that is lighter than the Cobalt Green, in other words, no white added. It is also a slightly cooler green. I think green is one of the harder colors to mix and also to use with success in my own art and yet I am so attracted to it as a hue. Cobalt Green Light is soft and not high key at all so when I paint with it in encaustic I use it straight. 

Lightfastness: I
Pigment: Graphite 
Graphite in encaustic paint is the perfect choice for printmaking. It is very dense, deep grey-black and has a slight sheen that gives it a velvet like effect. I have experimented with mixing it with other pigments and can say that the best results for me were when I mixed with the high tinting strength transparent pigments such as the Phthalos and Quinacridones. 

Indian Yellow
Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: Isoindolinone
There are several pigments that get the common name Indian Yellow. The pigment I really like is PY110. It is a semi-transparent pigment that has a vibrant orange mass tone, when extended with medium it yields a truly unique, glowing and vibrant yellow undertone. Even though it is semi-transparent, it has a very high tinting strength. I never use paint made from this pigment full strength since the undertones are what is so special about it. 

Phthalo Blue Green Shade
Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: Copper Phthalocyanine
All Phthalo pigments have and extremely high tinting strength. In mass tone they are extremely dark in value, often overlooked on the shelf since they appear black. They are also transparent in nature. Therefore, they are an excellent choice for extending with medium for glazing. When used for mixing other colors, only a small amount is needed.  Phthalo Blue Green Shade makes a stunning turquoise blue when mixed with either Zinc White or Titanium White. I tend to use this color a lot encaustic printmaking. 

Titanium White
Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: Titanium Dioxide Rutile
Titanium White is a brilliant, opaque white. It also has superior tinting strength, which means that it takes just little Titanium White to make a shift in color value when mixed with other paints. However, while Titanium White is an excellent choice for custom color mixes, it is also perfect for direct painting. Its excellent covering power makes it extremely useful. I really enjoy what I call a “blonde” palette, so for me have to be careful not to over use Titanium White.

Ultramarine Blue
Lightfastness: I
PIGMENT: Complex Silicate of Sodium & Aluminum with Sulfur

Ultramarine Blue is a transparent deep blue with moderate tinting strength. It has reddish undertones. Ultramarine Blue is probably the most versatile blue and therefore a classic color for the palette. The word ultramarine means “over the sea.” In ancient times, ultramarine was made from lazuli otherwise known as the mineral lazurite. Obtaining ultramarine from lazurite was so costly that it has been artificially manufactured since the early 1800’s. One of these days, though I would like to paint with lazuli. It just sounds so exotic.

The red I tend to go to most often is Naphthol Red PR112. 

However, I am learning about Pyrrole Red PR254 now and I might have my new favorite. 

Both of these reds are high tinting and transparent. Naphthol is a little cooler than Pyrrole, both are vibrant and great for color mixing. It’s not that I have to decide, but I really enjoy knowing what I can expect out of a color so I tend to work with a limited palette till I am really confident with the personality of a specific pigment. 

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