Yeah, I…just went off about pigments, don’t mind me…

There is a lot going on for me, right now.  I’m just hesitant to put it all out for the public to see.  What I can say is that…I now actually have the time and funding to buy some (other) art materials to experiment with, which may help me out of not wanting to do anything.  I’m thinking about Dr. P.H. Martin’s Bombay India Ink, their Hydrus Liquid Watercolors, Daler-Rowney FW acrylic ink…and Copic and Micron fineliners (in colors).  (I believe it’s only a matter of time until I actually try a Rapidograph.)

As for the first three, I…don’t have enough of a clue about how they may work to know if I actually want to get more than a little bit.  There is a sale on FW ink coming up with Blick, but it’s only 20% off, and I’m not sure how these inks handle.  Plus, I’m not certain if it’s 20% off in-store price or 20% off web price (which is cheaper than in-store, unless you get Web Price Matching by being a Preferred Customer).  That is, is it really a sale, for me?  I’m…not entirely sure.

I have seen some stuff done with Bombay Ink which is interesting enough for me to try it.  Largely, what I’m looking for is an intensity of chroma that I haven’t seen, so much, with (pigmented) watercolors — though up to this point I have only been using Winsor & Newton — one of the cheaper standard brands.

I did acquire a tube of Grumbacher Vermilion Deep, though; I was looking for an intense red-orange with good flow that was not cadmium-based (and had been looking around to see if I could find evidence of actual cinnabar [traditional Vermilion:  mercuric sulfide; obviously, toxic] being used anywhere).  I still have not tried it yet, to see how it performs.  If I hadn’t been so out of it, I could have done it today.

More intense color is achievable with dye-based inks (as is really apparent in my markers), but dyes are also prone to being fugitive.  “Fugitive” means they will fade or color-shift with exposure to environmental factors like light, air, or moisture (the culprit may be different for each individual dye, and it’s possible that there are some dyes which aren’t fugitive; I just don’t know enough about it at this point, to say).

The rest of this goes off on watercolor paints, don’t mind me…

There are some paints I’ve bought which are really decent in the chroma department, though.  The two which immediately come to mind are Alizarin Crimson and French Ultramarine, in W&N’s Professional line.  These make a brilliant violet, together.  I also like Viridian (green)…it’s a bit grainy — as a pigment property, I hear — but because true Viridian (as distinct from Phthalo Green, which is W&N’s Cotman “Viridian Hue”) easily mixes with other colors to create a range of interesting hues, I’ve decided to continue to use it, despite the graininess and risk of exposure to cobalt.

(For instance, there is an interesting violet-blue-green color that comes up when Permanent Rose Red is mixed with Viridian.  Really…really unexpected, really beautiful.)

I’ve decided to keep using Permanent Rose — it’s a really delicate color, but makes a number of fairly standard shades, easily.  It’s not anywhere near as potent as Alizarin, though, being a nonstaining pigment.

While I feel I could do without Winsor Red (Naphthol Red)…I really don’t know, at this point.  It’s useful for mixing bright oranges and dull violets, at the least (the latter of which are surprisingly common), but on its own, this Naphthol Red (there may be other shades) really reminds me of ketchup, which is kind of a visceral, personally negative response with me.  I think it would be possible to mix this shade from an orange-leaning red, plus a violet-leaning red…but I haven’t tried it yet.  I should.

Cadmium Red Pale Hue (in Cotmans) — at least, the one I have from 2009 — was my only decent red-orange, prior to getting Vermilion Deep.  I’ll see if I need to keep it around.

So far, I’ve talked about five different formulations of red.  This is because red is where things can either flow together or go wrong:  easily, this could work in either direction.  In particular, the mixing of violets is where this really shows up.  An orange-leaning red mixed with a green-leaning blue will give a blackberry color, but not an intense violet.  I’ve been over this before, though.  It was just a major learning point for me, although it probably happened nine years ago, now.  🙂  Not to say that I’ve been painting all that time, because I haven’t.  Color Dynamics was part of my introduction to Fine Art, though.

My biggest conundrum at this point is what to do about the oranges.  I’m fairly certain I can try a Hansa Yellow as a less-toxic stand in for Cadmium Yellow (a warm — i.e. orange-leaning — yellow).  Winsor Yellow…benzimidazolone…works alright, but I’m not terribly attached to it, other than for strong oranges.  I’m thinking of trying something different, here.  I would go for Indian Yellow, but the mixture I’m looking at already includes a benzimidazolone pigment.  I might be able to find something else in another brand, though.

I’m also not quite satisfied with Aureolin (Cobalt Yellow)…which I find to be really weak.  I’m not entirely sure why our prof had us buy this one — it’s only available from a couple of manufacturers as PY40 — the rest use a combination of pigments which might more aptly be named “Aureolin Hue”.  This is a green-leaning, cool yellow; as versus the warm-leaning benzimidazolone yellow above.

There are, then, three blues that I had been using for class.  French Ultramarine (though Prof only specified “Ultramarine,” I found the test swatches for the plain “Ultramarine” to be weak), Cobalt Blue (also weak), and Winsor Blue (Green Shade) — the last of which, I’m fairly certain was Phthalo Blue (Green Shade).  Phthalo can stay — although I don’t use it often, it can be useful, even if overpowering (it’s incredibly vibrant).

My main beef with both Cobalt Blue and Cobalt Yellow (Aureolin) is that both of them are so weak that it’s difficult to get a good level of saturation with them without using up a bunch of the tube.  (Plus, they’re toxic, and Aureolin is expensive.)  My prof likes to use Cobalt Blue for underpaintings (though I’m not sure he ever showed us how to actually make an underpainting).  It’s also good for skies…just, not my favorite color.  If it doesn’t start out luminous (reflecting a lot of light), I’m not sure how it’s going to get more luminous once it’s mixed with something which will just absorb more light…


So that’s four reds, three blues, two yellows.  I also have been using the convenience mixture of Cadmium Orange Hue, then Viridian and Ivory Black.  This is more than we were allowed to use in Watercolor class.

I’m actually thinking about trying an Indian Yellow.

I’ll work with what I have, for now, though — and I’m thinking it’s best that I not use my new, gigantic palette until I have a working system of how to organize these things.

I’ve barely begun to crack the surface with the earth tones, as well — Prof had us mix our own earth tones from primaries (which was such a pain, but I can see why he did it, now).  The best thing I think I can do at this point is just work with the paints more, and see what hues I can get out of color mixing which I wouldn’t expect…

When I started this post, I thought I was going to be writing about buying stuff, but now that I’ve gotten to this point, it’s really apparent that I want to work with the watercolors more.  And, now that I’m free, I don’t have to stick to the palette with which the teacher started us.

This could be interesting.

I still do, though, want to look at those colored fineliners…


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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

3 thoughts on “Yeah, I…just went off about pigments, don’t mind me…”

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