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Swatches and update on palette

My finished renaissance and baroque palette with toxic hues in it.

Hello, y’all.

I was apparently too tired today to do anything productive and slept the whole day! Anywho, I did the swatches and finished my palette.

When I get the energy I will swatch on more textured paper, do some mixing charts, some studies, and then a painting hopefully. I personally would love to put all this work (except the final painting) in a sketchbook…and I may craft one. I’ve been trying to do that. Maybe I’ll record myself doing that.🤭

So sorry this was so short, I’m still tired.😩

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13 replies on “Swatches and update on palette”

Hi Feets,

I just wanted to mention that I regret saying what I did, about toxic pigments being better. I’ve been regretting it since I did it.

From what I can tell, we’re in a transitional period. It seems having no option but potentially toxic pigments (e.g. realgar, orpiment — both arsenic-based), used to be normal. So now we have paint companies specifically trying to replace heavily-used, traditional, toxic pigments, with those pigments (e.g. the Cadmiums [red, orange, yellow], Cobalts [blues, etc.], White lead [in oils], Mercury [Vermilion], Chromium [Chrome Oxide Green], etc.) as the de-facto reference. So we have *Cadmium-Free* Yellow Light and Cobalt Blue *Hue*, etc.

The older pigments have, essentially, the backing that they’ve been around longer and have been used more. In an old reference, _Making Color Sing_, most of the paints used in that book *are* toxic. It’s over 35 years old by now, but that’s a blink in the scheme of things. I’ve wondered how much use I can make of it, with mostly different pigments! (I still have to read it.)

Two colors can look similar, and mix very differently to each other: I’m thinking of Winsor Orange (maybe PO62? Benzimidazolone Orange, unless they switched it), versus Pyrrol Orange, or what you can mix. What I’ve made with the old Winsor Orange is fading, and it is weak in mixes; whereas all the Pyrrol colors I’ve used have been — well — better at holding their own in mixes. I just use Winsor Orange as an example of something which seems really beautiful when used straight, but isn’t great in mixes or for longevity; that is, the quality of a color is not only in its masstone. You likely know that this, as well as other important qualities of colors like opacity, matter in use. (A lot of details I’m going into, for those who may not know.)

Because of this…I wouldn’t expect the newer colors to behave precisely like the old ones, even if they look the same out of the tube. I know M (my mom) doesn’t see this in her Art, or doesn’t care…but she isn’t obsessed with detail like I am. (It’s not always great to be obsessed with detail; it can slow you down or discourage you.)

And then there are some paints that we use mainly just because our teachers learned with them: I’m thinking of Aureolin, in my Watercolor painting class. I hate Aureolin, it makes terribly weak greens in my experience, and is rumored to be fugitive; but for some reason, the Prof. wanted us to use it (even though it is highly toxic by ingestion, and can be absorbed transdermally).

“Traditional,” doesn’t necessarily mean, “better,” that is. I actually prefer “Viridian Hue” (when it is a Phthalocyanine pigment) to actual Viridian — though that’s probably because (real) Viridian looks pretty bad to me straight out of the tube. Then again, so does Green Gold, and Green Gold is highly useful for making intense greens. Phthalo Green plus Permanent Rose…make a beautiful range of hues (blues and violets, if I can remember what they looked like, fresh). I’m not sure if real Viridian would have done that!

I do really like Phthalo blues and greens; but I tend to start off with high-key colors and then mix my way down to subdued hues (though earth tones are also nice, especially where it comes to skin tones). It’s really interesting to get a vibrant, complex brown, for example.

Just to let you know where I’m coming from; I’ve been reading a lot about the Victorian use of Emerald Green (an arsenic/copper based pigment) — and people were dying because it was toxic, protection measures weren’t used, the public didn’t realize arsenic was actually not healthy (although the Chemists [generally] knew)…*and* they loved the color so much.

It was once widespread in wallpaper prints, even though environmental dampness plus the gelatin and wheat paste combined on the walls made a favorable environment for microbes. The microbes broke down the pigment into arsine gas, which people absorbed and got sick from, and some died. That’s before it was outlawed.

Life always seems to be a wild card where it comes to toxins…

Anyway, I just wanted to write this to say not to discount some of the newer, safer, excellent pigments. They haven’t been around for as long, I doubt anyone’s perfected working with them yet, and actually not all of their health effects have been studied. It’s just like you were talking about a long time ago with Vermilion, though: Vermilion is a known risk to take measures to protect yourself from. Pyrrol Red or Pyrrol Scarlet actually seem really near to it in hue (although if I’ve ever seen Vermilion, it would only have been in a signature stamp on an ink painting) — and as far as I know, Pyrrol Red and Orange are *not known to be* toxic at this time.

But yeah! Everything with pigments, seems to work within the framework of balance and trade-offs. Like, I’m sure Pyrrol Scarlet doesn’t mix the same as Vermilion. But then there’s the question of whether it matters, you know?

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Funny you bring up verdigis and emerald green, because Phthalocyanide is just as toxic as verdigis because they have that copper element. Also, pouring it down the sink makes wildlife suffer. It’s a pretty color and unlike verdigris and lead white, having it on your wall isn’t going to make you too sick.

The problem I have with historical pigments is that they’re toxic, modern pigments are toxic but I can work around their toxicity and not harm the environment…it’s just that more modern watercolors are very saturated, very transparent, and kind of don’t share the qualities I want. For example, lead white (PW1) is lower tinting than titanium white (PW6) and has less opacity. I used PW4 instead—zinc oxide—and it ends up looking blue, which lead white isn’t blue leaning, it’s brown leaning. I’ve never painted with this pigment before and I’m not an oil painter so it’s properties of being stringy and wirey mean nothing.

When I say zinc oxide really will do what zinc does best. I’m not lying. It’s very similar formula to healthier sunscreen and has a cast on it that makes it blue and ashy. It’s unfortunate.

I got PW6:1 from Daniel smith and the big problem with those two are that they’re titanium. They’re still opaque, still darken the color as if it had a shadow, and hardly warmed the color. I was very disappointed.

Pyrrol Red (PR255) is amazing for vermilion, however it is not granulation and is a lot more cleaner. When I mixed mine, I added the hue I made for Cinnabar. It’s not perfect, but it still has texture to it. PR170 also is a great vermillion replacement but it’s still too bright!

I don’t mind what my mixes look like too much, but I do care about how the paint goes down and how I can manipulate it.

Maybe I’m also a blah person because I don’t like finding useful mixes either or having a super bright palette. I do love bright vibrancy but typically those get mixed dull or are mostly used in their masstone.🤷🏾

And these are just modern day colors too just mixed dully to look like an old masters palette. In fact, that very dark blue is PG7 phthalo green and PV23.☺️ The only thing that’s actually not modern is PR102 Natural red oxide, PY43 Natural Yellow Oxide, and Lapis Lazuli. The rest are modern.☺️👍

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Interesting. I hadn’t thought that copper would be an issue; what I was concerned about was the arsenic component of copper arsenate (or is it arsenite?). It does make sense, though: as it is a bad idea to flush spent pickle (saturated with copper) and spent etching solution (ferric chloride) down the drain. (Pickle is used to eat firescale [copper oxides] off the outsides of brazed [hard-soldered] silver, brass, and copper.)

I thought that had to do with the fact that it would eat the insides of the pipes, though, more than the copper in the water itself being a problem. Obviously, though, saturated pickle *is* toxic waste, as is saturated ferric chloride solution.

Just a thought: Daniel Smith makes a “Buff Titanium” color. Have you tried it? It might help with that warm temperature in white that you’re looking for:

https://danielsmith.com/color-stories/watercolors/buff-titanium-watercolor/

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Hi, I mentioned it in my reply that titanium buff was too opaque still. It’s PW6:1. Daniel Smith is the exact brand I bought. I love it, but it’s not exactly what I’m looking for this color.

They (Daniel Smith) also have a gray one called Gray Titanium. I mentioned that is lovely in hue and in mixes but it’s very gray and dark. It mixes like titanium white usually does.

Apparently Van Gogh has a color that’s similar and it’s still not exactly what I want. https://www.jerrysartarama.com/vg-wc-10ml-titan-buff

😞 I’m still deciding on how to mix it. I heard that some artists use gum arabic to make their colors more transparent. If I can find gum arabic and add it, maybe it’ll work and potentially make the color less tinting.😞

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