COLOR PART III Artists' Pigments.
- Blues - Greens - Yellows - Oranges
- Reds - Violets - Blacks - Whites
Every color has its own distinct personality. One red may be warm, and another cool. A yellow that is dull versus another that is brilliant. Of two blues, one may be deeper than the other. This section describes the characteristics of specific pigments and how many act upon other colors (or are acted upon by other colors) in mixtures.
Artists’ tube colors are of three types: “genuine,” “convenience,” and “imitation.” A knowledge of these three terms is necessary to make the best use of the information that follows.
The pigment in a “genuine” color is made of a single substance, a single chemical element or compound. Cadmium Yellow, for instance, is made from the compound of cadmium zinc sulfide, and calcined iron oxide is the chemical name for Burnt Sienna. A way to determine whether a tube of paint contains a genuine color is to look for the ASTM designation (usually on the back of the tube, and occasionally on the face). If there is a single ASTM number, the paint is made from a genuine pigment of a single substance. If you find more than one ASTM number, it means several different pigments were combined to make the paint and it is not a genuine color.
An ASTM designation starts with the letter "P" for pigment, followed by a letter or set of letters for the color group, such as "Y" for yellow or "Br" meaning brown, and then a one to three digit number for the specific color. The ASTM designation for all shades of Cadmium Yellow, for example, is PY35. For synthetic Burnt Sienna it is PR101 and natural Burnt Sienna is PR102. In the listings, ASTM pigment numbers follow the color name in parentheses.
“Convenience” colors are mixtures made for the artist’s convenience of not having to repeatedly mix the same color. Such colors can be identified by the fact that they bear two or more ASTM numbers. Kings Blue, for instance, is just Zinc White (PW1) or Titanium White (PW6) plus Cobalt (PB36) or French Ultramarine Blue (PB29), yet it saves the landscape painter much time by not having to mix it on the palette each time she needs a sky color.
Some convenience colors are intended to replace an obsolete but useful pigment. For instance, the production of genuine Indian Yellow is now barred by law, so today producers create alternatives from mixtures of other colors.
Like a convenience color, an “imitation” is a mixture, one that allows the manufacturer to offer an inexpensive alternative to a costly color. Also like a convenience color, properly labeled imitations are identified with two or more ASTM numbers. A common example of a convenience color is Naples Yellow. Genuine Naples Yellow (PY41) is expensive lead antimonite, while most imitations are combinations of much less expensive Titanium White (PW6) or Zinc White (PW1) plus Yellow Ochre (PY42) and perhaps a trace of a third color.
ABOUT THE COLORS
Colors in the illustrations are approximations
and may differ from the colors of actual artists' paints.
Some colors are sold under several names.
The most commonly used is given in the heading,
followed by alternate names in parentheses.
OPACITY and TRANSPARENCY
Only in oil paints are certain pigments considered opaque or semi-opaque.
Acrylic paints are either more translucent or less translucent but never fully opaque.
In watercolor, all colors are transparent when applied in typically thin washes.
NOTE FOR WATERCOLOR ARTISTS
Where the addition of white paint is called for in a mixture,
increase the amount of water in the paint or apply it more thinly.
The Color of Sky: Blue
All (genuine) blue oil and acrylic paints are transparent except cerulean, which is fully opaque in oil paints. The coldest blue is French Ultramarine, followed by Cobalt, Cerulean, Manganese, and the warmest, Prussian and Phthalocyanine.
prussian (pb27)/phthalocyanine (pb15, 15:1, 15:2, 15:3, 15:4, 15:6)
(Prussian Blue is sometimes labeled as Milori, Paris, or Chinese Blue. Phthalocyanine may be labeled Phthalo, Thalo, Monstral, or Winsor)
The darkest blues are Prussian, then Phthalocyanine. When used "straight" (not mixed with another color) they exhibit a bronze sheen' this is more evident with Prussian than with Phthalocyanine Blue. Both colors are so potent that even a tiny amount has a powerful impact upon other colors in mixtures. Even though they are transparent, due to their intensity they effectively hide what they are painted over unless worked out into an extremely thin veneer. Rich, vibrant blacks can be made with them when combined with a strong red like Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red Deep, or Indian Red. By adding white to these blackish mixtures, the blacks become handsome violet, pinkish, or greenish grays. Mixed with Burnt Sienna, Prussian or Thalo blue is transformed into a murky sea green. The most sparkling greens come from Prussian or Phthalo Blue plus yellow paint, particularly when it is a lemony yellow.
(Authentic types are labeled as Genuine Ultramarine or as Lapis Lazuli.)
Genuine Ultramarine Blue is an ancient pigment made from the semiprecious gemstone, Lapis Lazuli. Once the most costly pigment available, it remains extremely expensive. The best quality is a beautiful and sparkling blue with a slightly violet undertone. Lesser grades are more gray. When used in transparent in glazes, it can be quite delicate.
french ultramarine (pb29)
(French Ultramarine Blue is frequently labeled simply as Ultramarine Blue.)
French Ultramarine Blue was developed in the 1800s as a synthetic replacement for Genuine Ultramarine Blue (Lapis Lazuli). The French type is nearly identical to the best quality Genuine Ultramarine. Muddier and less powerful than Prussian or Thalo Blue, French Ultramarine Blue is the most popular blue among artists due to its versatility. French Ultramarine leans toward violet, and when combined with a color like Alizarin Crimson it makes a bright, clean purple.
For excellent grays, combine Burnt Sienna and white paint with French Ultramarine (shown below). Increase the amount of Sienna for warmer grays, or add additional blue for cooler grays. Ultramarine mixed with Burnt Umber makes a black. Greens created from French Ultramarine are deeper, duller, and muddier than those made with other blues. Hence, the resulting greens are among the most naturalistic looking and are highly useful in landscape art. A color very similar to Cobalt Blue, but not so translucent, can be made by adding some Cerulean Blue to Ultramarine.
cobalt (pb 36)
Cobalt Blue is not as deep as French Ultramarine. It is a fresh, clear and lively hue that can be considered a "true blue." With white paint added, Cobalt Blue is ideal for painting daytime skies during the warmer months. French Ultramarine, on the other hand, can be thought of as a winter sky-color. Greens made with cobalt blue are brighter and livelier than those made from French ultramarine, and violets are more subtle. When shopping, be careful of less costly and inferior imitations which are not always clearly labeled; a tip-off is when you see “green shade” or “red shade.”
cerulean (pb35)/manganese (pb33)
Cerulean and Manganese are the palest of the blue pigments. They are quite similar to each other, with Manganese being the paler, brighter, and greener of the two. Cerulean is the only blue pigment that is opaque. Both Cerulean and Manganese yield lively greens, and make delicate violets. Due to their high cost, both colors are frequently imitated but not well labeled as such.
Imitations are usually made from an abundance of white paint plus a little Phthalo Blue; some imitations of Manganese Blue may be a barium compound. Where genuine Cerulean and Manganese are delicate and lovely colors, imitations are bold and aggressive. Due to the presence of Phthalo Blue, imitations tends to overwhelm and swallow up other colors that they are mixed with. While genuine Manganese is transparent, imitations are often semi-opaque.
The Color of Grass: Green
A great variety of greens can be made by combining the many blues and yellows that are available. The most assertive greens, though, are those that come directly from a tube. In temperature, the greens run from Viridian, the coldest, through Prussian and Phthalocyanine, Terre Verte, Oxide of Chromium, and then Permanent. Greens tend to be transparent or semitransparent, except opaque Oxide of Chromium and Permanent Green.
phthalocyanine (pg7)/prussian (pg15)
(Phtalocyanine is also known as Phthalo, Thalo, Winsor, and Scheveningen Green. Prussian Green is sometimes named Berlin or Veronese Green.)
Prussian and Phthalo green are nearly identical in color, although cooler and warmer varieties of both exist. Cool versions of Phthalo Green are rather blue in appearance. Both colors are exceptionally deep and intense, and many painters avoid them due to their metallic and artificial appearance. Extra precaution needs to be taken with Prussian Green, since the genuine color is no longer available; it has been replaced by mixtures of pigments of often questionable permanence. As with their blue relatives, Prussian and Thalo Green make excellent blacks.
viridian (pg18)/cobalt (pg19)
(Viridian may be labeled Chrome Green and sometimes, deceptively, as Emerald Green. Authentic Emerald Green is rare and expensive and is generally identified as “genuine” to distinguish it from Viridian.)
Viridian and Cobalt Green are bluish greens, with Viridian being the colder of the two. When applied heavily, Viridian can look black. A small amount or Viridian or Cobalt Green added to a blue paint brings warmth to the blue without turning it into a true green. When either is mixed with a pale or lemony yellow, a bright and cold green is produced. For deeper and more natural looking greens, a color like Cadmium Yellow Deep is suggested. Add Ultramarine Violet or Manganese Violet to Viridian to create interesting blues. A unique blue-violet is elicited from Viridian or Cobalt Green combined with a cold red like Alizarin or Permanent Rose. The color of a summery blue sky results from a simple mixture of Viridian with just white paint.
terre verte (pg23)
(Other names for it are Earth Green and Bohemian Earth.)
Terre verte is a slightly cool, deep-toned and delicate color. Since it has little tinting power, a lot of it must be used in mixtures with opaque paints or it will be overwhelmed. Its real strength is in transparent glazes, where its beauty becomes evident. Lovely grays and blacks are created by combining it with alizarin crimson and other reds. It is an excellent color for painting the undertones of human flesh.
oxide of chromium (pg17)
(Also called Chromium Oxide Green. Not to be confused with Chrome Green.)
The color of willow and highly opaque, Oxide of Chromium is one of the most useful tube greens for the landscape painter. It is particularly apt in mixtures with hues like Naples Yellow, ochres, and Cerulean Blue. A shade like that of the water of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia is made by blending Chromium Oxide with Burnt Sienna and a little white paint.
A bright, assertive convenience color, Phthalocyanine Blue is generally the main constituent of Permanent Green, but sometimes it is Viridian. In any case, it is a mixture of several colors intended for to aid the landscape artist. In my opinion, it is too strong and acidic for many purposes. However, when a forceful, brilliant green is needed, Permanent Green is a good choice.
The Color of Sunshine: Yellow
Yellow pigments can be divided into two groups: bright and prismatic, or dull and earthy.
The brilliant yellows range from very pale and lemony to dark-ish and rather orange deep-toned types. Labels distinguish paler and darker versions of a yellow by naming them “light” or “pale,” “medium,” “deep,” or sometimes “extra deep.” If a color name lacks a qualifier, it can be assumed to be a medium shade.
nickel yellow (py53)
An opaque color, Nickel Yellow is greener and slightly muddier than the lemony yellows.
cadmium yellow lemon (py35)
Slightly greenish, lemon yellows are typically pale and bright. Alternatives to Cadmium Yellow Lemon, which always include the word “Lemon” in the name, are not as brilliant or opaque as Cadmium. Lemon yellows produce a green when mixed with blue, black, and even many violets. Added to a tube green, a lemon yellow sparks it up.
cadmium yellow (py35)
Cadmium Yellows are very opaque and are available in a range of shades from bright and pale, to deep and orange. It is a somewhat expensive color and less costly alternatives are available. Of the alternates, only Cadmium-Barium Yellow is opaque, with the rest running from semi-opaque to nearly fully transparent. They include Permanent Yellow, Hansa Yellow, Arylide Yellow, and Azo Yellow.
When mixed with a blue, the pale yellows make the most sparkling greens, and the deeper shades the most muddy and naturalistic. Conversely, the best oranges come from deeper yellow shades mixed with a warm red. Very deep shades of Cadmium and the other yellows are nearly orange and can substitute for an orange pigment.
cobalt yellow (py40)
(Aureolin is another name for this pigment.)
Possessing a moderately deep, somewhat orange top tone resembling middle shades of Cadmium Yellow, in glazes transparent Cobalt Yellow is bright and sparkling in glazes, close to Cadmium Yellow Pale in color.
arylide yellow (py3, py 73)
(Often Hansa or Transparent Yellow on labels.)
Available from Winsor & Newton as Transparent Yellow, it is an exceptionally transparent and bright yellow. It resembles Cadmium Yellow, whereas most other transparent yellows tend to be muddy earth tones.
It is no longer legal to produce genuine Indian Yellow pigment, so it has been replaced by other colors. Originally, Indian Yellow was made from the urine of yaks that had been fed a diet exclusively of mango leaves, which it turns out wasn’t so good for the yaks. The best modern versions of Indian Yellow are potent and very transparent colors with an orange undertone, making them useful for warm glazes. Basic Indian Yellow is close to a medium or deep Cadmium Yellow in color, and there are deeper and red shades offered as well.
Most earth yellows are iron oxide pigments and many are mustardy in color. Among them are the ochres, Raw Sienna, and Mars Yellow. Naples Yellow, which is lead antimonite when genuine, can also be grouped with the earth yellows. All earth yellows except Mars colors are available in both natural and synthetic varieties; Mars colors are man-made.
naples yellow (py41)
(Usually labeled Genuine Naples Yellow to distinguish it from imitations.)
Naples Yellow is the palest of the earth yellows, and comes in shades that run from greenish to pinkish-orange. Slight impurities in Genuine Naples Yellow are responsible for variations in color, while imitations are intentionally modified with the addition of other pigments.
Imitation versions are plentiful, and are unfortunately not always labeled as such. The imitations are dull and pasty compared to the genuine pigment. Authentic Naples Yellow is delicate and lively. It is considered opaque, and I have found this to be true of imitations, but samples of Genuine Naples Yellow I have tried have been slightly translucent. In mixtures with white paint and cobalt or cerulean blue, both genuine and imitation Naples yellow have the ability to simulate the remarkable color of a mid-day sky just above the horizon: blue and yellow at the same time, but never green.
yellow ochre/lemon ochre/transparent yellow ochre (py42 = synthetic, py43 = natural)
(Other names for Yellow Ochre are Natural Yellow Oxide. Names which indicate the source of the pigment include Domestic Ochre, Italian Ochre or Earth, and French Ochre or Earth. Transparent Yellow Ochre may also be labeled as Transparent Gold Ochre.)
Deposits of natural Yellow Ochre are found on every continent in a range of shades and tints. Most forms of Yellow Ochre are semi-opaque. They include a slightly greenish Lemon Ochre, a relatively bright and sparkling Yellow Ochre Light (not to be confused with Yellow Ochre Pale, a more opaque and slightly paler form of ordinary Yellow Ochre), and the familiar mustardy middle shades. Depending on pigment source and method of processing, most Yellow Ochres are semi-opaque. There is, however, a fully Transparent Gold Ochre that gives off a luminous, amber glow when glazed over paler colors. All types of Yellow Ochre are useful in figure painting, and have wide application in landscape art.
mars yellow/transparent mars yellow (py42)
(Also known as Yellow Oxide. The transparent type may be labeled Transparent Yellow Oxide.)
Mars Yellow is a little deeper and more orange synthetic version of natural Yellow Ochre. For glazing, there is also Transparent Mars Yellow. I have found the transparent type especially useful in adjusting the color temperature of paintings. If I find that a picture has gotten too cold, a whisper thin glaze of Transparent Mars Yellow (or Raw Sienna) warms up the painting without turning it yellowish (as shown in illustration), and then work can resume.
raw sienna (py42 = synthetic, py43 = natural)
(Sometimes labeled as Transparent Natural Oxide or Italian Sienna.)
Fully transparent, Raw Sienna is similar in color to Yellow Ochre but is deeper and greener in tone. If I find that a picture has gotten too cold, a whisper thin glaze of Raw Sienna (or Transparent Mars Yellow) warms up the painting without turning it yellowish (see picture above), and then work can resume.
The Color of Fruit: Orange
Only a few orange paints are available. Of them, only Cadmium, Cadmium-Barium, Mars, and Perinone are genuine colors. All others are composites.
cadmium (po20)/cadmium-barium (po20:1)
Cadmium and Cadmium-Barium Orange are brilliant, opaque hues that resemble the fruit. Touched into green paint, they provide a more organic flavor of green. Added to earth yellows to the yellows look brighter. Because Cadmium colors are expensive, they are frequently imitated with combinations of less costly pigments that are never fully opaque. Copies of Cadmium Orange, regardless of composition, are often labeled Permanent Orange or with a trade name like Winsor (Winsor & Newton) or Scheveningen (Old Holland) Orange.
Perinone Orange is semitransparent and a bit redder than Cadmium Orange. Colors labeled as Transparent Orange are frequently mainly Perinone Orange.
mars (py42 plus pr101)
Mars Orange is a deeply reddish-orange that resembles the color of some types of bricks. It is a combination of an iron oxide red and iron oxide yellow. Mixed with most blues and violets, mars orange produces muddy grays. Greens take on an earthy tone when mixed with it. Mars Orange is absolutely opaque.
The Color of Fire: Red
There are three kinds of red pigments: bright and warm prismatic reds; intense crimsons; and brick-like earth reds.
Most of the colors in this group are slightly orange, with the deepest type being slightly violet. Combined with a blue paint, they make duller and subtler violets than the crimsons do. This is especially true of the more orange shades.
(Usually labeled Genuine Vermilion to distinguish it from imitations. Also known as Cinnabar; not to be confused with the green sometimes so labeled.)
Cadmium Red may be pricey, but Genuine Vermilion is considerably more so. Thus, costly imitations abound. Vermilion is exceptionally brilliant, an opaque fiery orange-red. The alternative that most resembles the real thing in color is Cadmium Red Light, which is pastier in mixtures with white paint, however, than Vermilion is.
cadmium red (pr108)/cadmium-barium red (pr108:1)
Cadmium Red is highly opaque and available in varieties ranging from slightly orange (named Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Vermilion, or Cadmium Scarlet), through a middle shade that can be considered a fire-engine red (sometimes labeled as Cadmium Red Medium), to a Cadmium Red Deep that verges on violet. In a middle shade, it can be compared to fire-engine red. Cadmium-Barium versions are not quite as opaque or intense as Cadmium.
Being expensive colors, imitations and alternatives are offered, none of which are fully opaque. They include Napthol Red, Winsor Red, Permanent Red, and Scheveningen Red.
bright red (pr254 by W&N; others are pr149, pr112, pr108, pr168, and pr188)
Bright Red is the trade name of a color offer by Winsor & Newton for a color that is a transparent equivalent to Cadmium Red (Medium), although very slightly cooler in tone. Winsor & Newton's product is made from Pyrrole Red, while other companies have other formulations. The string of ASTM numbers above should give some idea of the great variety of pigments marketed under the name Bright Red.
The crimson reds are a broad family, the best known member of which is Alizarin. Because there are so many varieties, most are addressed in the section on Aniline Colors. All crimsons are cold (leaning toward blue), and make excellent purples when mixed with a blue or black paint, as well as with some greens. The best pinks are made from a crimson combined with white paint.
madder (pr83:1 or pr83:3)
(Other names are Rose Madder, Madder Lake, and Alizarin Lake.)
The pigment for Madder colors comes from the root of a plant and has been in use since Roman times. Genuine Madder is difficult to find today, although imitations deceptively labeled as Madder appear in some paint-makers’ lines. Natural Madder has been all but supplanted by modern Alizarin Crimson, which was developed as a more permanent synthetic alternative in the 1900s. Depending upon processing, Madder varies from pinks through scarlet to the familiar bluish shade of Alizarin. Genuine Madder Lake is slightly warmer and more orange than Alizarin Crimson, giving it a less harsh and more organic quality.
alizarin crimson (pr83)/permanent alizarin crimson (any of the following: pr 176, pr177, pr179, pr206, or pr264)
A method for synthesizing Madder was developed in the late 1800s, nearly eradicating the need for the natural substance. There has long been controversy about the permanence of Alizarin Crimson, with one camp claiming it is a fugitive color (prone to fading with time), and the other asserting that it is reliable. Due to this issue, so-called “permanent” varieties have since been developed from aniline dyes, many of which have themselves been shown to be marginal. I have used both Madder Lake and ordinary Alizarin Crimson for over 35 years, and have had no problems develop with either.
Alizarin Crimson is a deep and somewhat purplish red. Mixed with white paint it makes excellent pinks, or mixed with blue (especially Ultramarine) it yields sparkling violets. A strong color, it holds its own in mixtures. It is also transparent and can be used to make glazes that are delicate or forceful.
permanent rose (pr60 or pr122)
(Also labeled Rose Dore, Madder Lake Brilliant, and Thalo Rose.)
Resembling a paler and very pink Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Rose is produced from any of several coal tar dyes (see Aniline Reds below). Being so cold, it can actually appear to be blue in some contexts. Mixed with a blue paint, particularly Cerulean or Manganese, it makes a soft violet.
carmine (genuine = nr3; imitations sometimes labeled "permanent" include pr60, pr184, pr185, pr188, and pr238)
(Other names are Permanent Carmine and Crimson Lake.)
Developed by the Aztecs at least several hundred years ago, genuine Carmine was made from the cochineal insect. Natural Carmine is no longer available and is now produced using any of several pigments (see Aniline Reds below). It is a bit deeper than what is called Permanent Rose, and not as purple as Magenta.
magenta (pr57:1 is "process" magenta; alternatives include pr4, pr5, pr31, pr88, pr122, pr181, pr184, pr28 and others)
(Also Permanent Magenta.)
So cold it is sometimes considered a violet, Magenta has long been used as an ink in 4-color process printing. It is just one of many colors produced from aniline dyes (see below).
(Many varieties of Aniline Reds exist. Some of them are Quinacridone, Anthraquinone, Perylene, and Napthol Reds.)
Aniline was discovered in 1824. Around mid-century a method was found to produce mauve from aniline. At the time, purple was an incredibly costly color, affordable only for kings. With the development of mauve and other, more lightfast violets from aniline, a revolution was brought about. Since then, chemists have devised a huge array of colors using aniline. Among them are the cold, Alizarin-like reds.
Virtually all Aniline colors are transparent or translucent. In the reds, they include slightly orange Scarlet Lakes, “true” reds like Bright Red, deep bluish reds such as Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and pinker and purpler colors such as Permanent Rose and Magenta. Quinacridones are part of this group.
When a red is needed, whether for a fiery sunset or the pinkish tones of caucasian flesh, most students reach automatically for a Cadmium red, or possibly a crimson. Yet, for most purposes, an earth red is as brilliant as is needed and is more effective. Beautiful pinks and lovely violets can be made with the earth reds, and on their own they are surprisingly vibrant. Iron oxide reds span a broad spectrum of warm and cool reds, from fully transparent to highly opaque, and powerful to moderate in strength.
Whether from a naturally occurring pigment or one that has been manufactured, it is plain old rust that gives these pigments their color. The differences between them are due to slight natural impurities in the case of organic iron oxides, and intentionally chemical variations with manufactured pigments. Most earth reds can be thought of as “brick reds,” since bricks are made from the same clays as paints – hence the similarity in colors. Since all are essentially the same material, they all share the same ASTM numbers: PR101 if synthetically produced, and PR102 if from a natural source.
burnt sienna/transparent red oxide/transparent red ochre (pr101 = synthetic, pr102 = natural)
(The name Italian Burnt Sienna indicates when it is made of natural pigment from Italy. Transparent Red Oxide is sometimes labeled as Transparent Brown Oxide.)
Burnt Sienna is the most widely used of the earth reds, having a place on nearly every painter’s palette. Transparent Red Oxide is similar in character but much deeper in tone, while Transparent Red Ochre is brighter and more orange.
In good quality, Burnt Sienna is slightly orange with a deep mahogany top tone. It is quite fiery in transparent glazes. When mixed with white paint, a salmon pink results. Combined with Phthalo or Prussian Blue, Burnt Sienna yields a most unusual green. It brings depth and earthiness when mixed with green pigments, and an Olive Green results when a touch of Burnt Sienna is added to a blend of Lamp Black and Cobalt Yellow. Burnt Sienna deepens blues and pushes them slightly toward violet. In a balanced mixture with Ultramarine or Cobalt Blue, gray results.
mars red (pr101)
indian red/pompeian red/spanish red (pr101=synthetic, pr102 = natural)
venetian red/terra rosa/red oxide (pr101=synthetic, pr102 = natural)
light red/english red/english red light/light red oxide/red ochre (pr101=synthetic, pr102 = natural)
These are all intense, opaque reds made primarily of iron oxide, or rust. They can be divided roughly into three groups, with all members of a group being identical or nearly identical in color.
The strongest is the natural pigment Indian Red, which is almost pure iron oxide. Its synthetic equivalent is Mars Red. Members of this group are the coldest of the opaque iron oxide reds, leaning somewhat toward blue. They are surprisingly powerful and their strength can take the uninitiated by surprise. Indian red can appear every bit as bold as a Cadmium Red, and I have used it to render the color of ripe tomatoes.
Venetian Red and its cousins, Terra Rosa and synthetic Red Oxide are as potent and opaque as Indian Red, but not quite so cold. It has been used at least since the Renaissance in modeling flesh tones.
English Red Light is the warmest of the opaque iron oxide reds. Its slightly orange tone becomes evident when placed next to Venetian or Indian red in a painting.
brown ochre (pr102)
Brown Ochre is an iron oxide pigment. It is also available in Light and Burnt shades. The redness of Brown Ochre is not immediately evident, but become apparent when compared to colors like Mars Orange.
burnt umber (pbr6)
(In the best grades it may be labeled Turkey Umber or Cypress Umber.)
Burnt Umber is so dark that it can be used as a warm black or to make warm grays. With blue paint added to it, burnt umber is transformed into a rich purple. Its greatest strength comes when it is used in conjunction with Raw Umber. Burnt Umber is reddish, and Raw Umber is Greenish. Used imaginatively and with skill, along with white paint, these two colors alone can produce pictures that suggest a full spectrum.
The Color of Flowers: Violet
The bright, prismatic violets are transparent or semitransparent and go from bluish to reddish. Opaque Mars Violet (not shown) is duller and ruddier than the prismatics.
dioxazine purple (pv23)
Out of the coal tar dye revolution came Dioxazine Purple in the 1920s. It is among the deepest and most potent of the prismatic violets. In color it is bluish. Since it is relatively inexpensive, its strong color makes it particularly economical. However, because it is so powerful, it may not be as useful in glazes.
Of the violet paints, Ultramarine Violet most resembles what we think of as a true violet. It can be easily simulated through a mixture of Ultramarine Blue mixed with Alizarin Crimson. It has relatively low tinting strength and is therefore most useful as a glaze color. Mixed with bright, lemony yellows, unusual greens can be made, and with a cool green like Viridian an interesting blue results.
(Other names are Manganese Violet Bluish, Manganese Violet Reddish, Permanent Violet and Burgundy Violet.)
Blue shades of Manganese Violet are close to the color of Ultramarine Violet. Red types are similar in hue to reddish boysenberries.
cobalt (pv14, pv47, or pv48 depending upon slight chemical variations)
(Some are labeled to describe the shade, such as Cobalt Violet Deep, Dark, or Light.)
Cobalt is a costly but beautiful color. The darkest type (PV14) contains phosphate, middle shades (PV47) have lithium, and the palest varieties (PV48) contain magnesium. Even in dark shades it is pinker and paler than the other violets, and in a light version it is exceptionally so. It is a delicate color that is capable of beautiful subtleties, but so weak that it can easily get lost in mixtures with other colors. It is useful mainly in transparent painting techniques.
(Caput Mortum is another name.)
Mars Violet is the only opaque violet. It is an iron oxide color and is actually a blue shade of mars red (note the pigment number). Like its red cousin, it is somewhat dull and deep in character. With the addition of white paint, mars violet produces handsome mauves, lavenders, and pinks. It is extremely useful in painting the human figure.
The Color of Dusk: Black
Black is the coldest and darkest of colors, and gray is the most neutral. Used well they can be effective members of our palettes. By controlling context, black and gray pigments can both be made to look bluish, greenish, violet, and even reddish. Sadly they are colors overused by many. Solid patches of black paint create the illusion of a hole in a painting. As a generic solution to darkening other colors for the purpose of making shadows, black is the poorest of choices, sucking all life from a picture. Gray can be just as deadly if not used skillfull
(Also known as Bone Black.)
Ivory Black is one of only two transparent blacks. It is a cool black, having a noticeably blue cast.
perylene (pbk31 or pbk32)
The other transparent black is Perylene, which is strongly green in mixtures. When combined with white paint a most remarkable sea green is revealed. A broad range of highly useful greens can be made with perylene in mixtures with any yellow, but especially a Lemon Yellow.
(Also labeled Slate Black and Black Oxide.)
Like other Mars colors, Mars Black is a synthetic iron oxide. It has a brownish undertone that imparts a warmer tone in mixtures than does Ivory Black. It is also a better choice than Ivory Black for under painting since it contains less oil and dries more rapidly.
(Carbon Black is another name.)
Lamp black is more commonly seen in watercolors than in oil paints and has a bluish undertone.
Vine Black is a general term for a variety of blacks made from different substances, including Blue Black, Drop Black, Frankfurt Black, Peach Black, and others. Some, like Roman and German Black, have a velvety appearance. All are made from roasted wood, vine, or vegetable matter and have a blue undertone. They are considered inferior in permanence to most other blacks, but are still very useful when a broader range of blacks is needed.
payne’s gray/davy’s gray/graphite gray
These are convenience colors created from mixtures of other colors. As such, there are variations in the color from one manufacturer to the next. Payne’s Gray, which remains fairly popular, is easy to replicate on the palette through a mixture of ivory black, a blue like Ultramarine, plus a little white.
(The best grade is sometimes labeled Turkey or Cypress Umber.)
Raw Umber is frequently mixed with white paint to produce warm. It is slightly greenish and a few companies produce versions (with a tiny amount of green pigment added) that are even more green; they are typically labeled as Green Umber or (confusingly) Turkey Umber. Beautiful paintings that appear to have been done with a wide spectrum of colors can be made using just Raw Umber, reddish Burnt Umber, and white paint.
The Color of Snow: White
Like blacks, white pigments are cool in tone - usually slightly bluish. All are opaque except Zinc White, which is semitransparent. Zinc White is also the coldest white, followed by Titanium White and then by Lead White.
(Labeled commonly as Flake White or Cremnitz White.)
Lead white is the oldest white pigment in existence. The terms "cremnitz" and "flake" refer to different processes for producing the pigment, although the name Flake White is now also used by some companies for a product that is actually a mixture of Lead plus Zinc White. Of all the whites it is the best drier and the most reliable and permanent.
titanium/unbleached titanium/unbleached titanium pale (pw6)
The brightest and most opaque white, Titanium White is so familiar to even the least experienced painters that it seems unnecessary to say very much about it. When it has dried, Titanium White forms a brittle and crumbly film that will not hold up as well as one of Lead White. For this reason, it is sometimes combined with Zinc white since when mixed together, the two produce a more reliable material than either on its own. Common Titanium White is subected to bleaching to give it its characteristic brilliance. When not bleached, the pigment is a color similar to fresh newsprint paper (Titanium White Unbleached Pale) or older newspring (Titanium White Unbleached).
buff titanium/buff titanium pale (pw6:1)
To mimick the color of unbleached varieties of Titanium White, some manufacturers combine it with an iron oxide.
zinc/unbleached zinc (pw4)
Zinc White is extremely slow drying and, like Titanium White, produces a brittle film. However, when combined with Titanium White, the two together produce a much more reliable paint. Zinc White
is semitransparent making it useful in glazes and velaturas. An unbleached type is opalescent pink in glazes.
chinese white (pw7)
(Sometimes labeled Zinc White.)
A Zinc White pigment compatable with watercolor techniques.