Color samples:


I know I have better things to do, but after another six hours out of the house, and actually — really — hard at work, what I wanted to do when I got back in was paint.

Apologies for the poor lighting, although this was under a halogen lamp. It’s nighttime right now.

As mentioned before, I did go out this week to pick up some paints I needed.  Well — “needed”.  I basically had no usable yellows (one was cemented shut, the other discarded).

Basically, I got a warm and a cool version of yellow (Permanent Yellow Deep and Lemon Yellow), a cool red (to replace Alizarin Crimson — this was Permanent Rose), an intense cool blue (Ultramarine Deep), and a warm black (Ivory Black).

This started out as an exercise in color swatches for unmixed paints…you can see that it got away from that.  🙂  Not counting the half-bars I squeezed in later, the first top three, from right to left, are Permanent Rose, Alizarin Crimson, and Scarlet Lake.  After I had swatched those out, I started wondering what difference the two cool reds would make if I mixed them with Ultramarine Deep to form saturated violets.

Scarlet Lake mixed with Perm. Yellow Deep was next…but kind of amazingly, didn’t look as intense as Scarlet Lake with Lemon Yellow (seventh from the right).  I say “amazingly” because Lemon Yellow is a cool yellow; Scarlet Lake is a warm red.  I didn’t expect to get a more vibrant orange from the pairing, but somehow I did.  I’m not sure if it had to do with proportions of each color, or what…

The next was a cool red (I think Perm. Rose) with what appears to be Perm. Yellow Deep (though I know some Lemon Yellow got in there; I got tired of trying to be scientific by using pure tones, so they started getting mixed up after a while).

To the left of that is a mix of both warm and cool reds (I can’t remember which cool red I used for this), blending into some kind of orange.  Also amazingly, the red mix appeared more vibrant to me than either the warm or cool reds, alone.  Left of that, and I started mixing orange with green, which eventually turned peacock on its way to Sky Blue.  I don’t know how it started looking peacock, but it did.

Sky Blue is also fifth from the left, just to the right of Ultramarine Deep.  I mixed them both with Lemon Yellow to see what I got.  The violet-leaning hue of the Ultramarine made a more muted green when mixed with yellow.  Sky Blue plus Lemon Yellow makes a…predictable, but nice range of greens.

And, right — just before I stopped, I started mixing the full-strength tones with Permanent White, along the right edge of the image.  I’ve learned that this is called “Permanent” White, likely in contrast to lithopone…which is one of the white pigments I’ve found in a set of Cotman transparent watercolors lying around (I’m not sure from which era).  Lithopone (zinc sulfide + barium sulfate, from a quick lookup) is known to darken with age.  I’m thinking that this is why anyone thought to call titanium dioxide “Permanent”.  There is also Zinc(-oxide) White, which I didn’t use tonight — Zinc Oxide is used for a less opaque mixture, from what I know (desirable at times when you want the underlying color to influence what’s over it).

In any case, at least titanium dioxide white causes dark colors to appear clearer and fuller than using the full-strength mix alone (this is gouache, opaque watercolor; so to lighten colors you add white, instead of adding water, as with transparent watercolors).  And some colors, like pink, don’t really come out except from a highly diluted violet-leaning red (like Alizarin or Perm. Rose).  I should note that I’ve found out that Alizarin is highly fugitive, which is why I’ve been leaning away from using it…but it’s still gorgeous, for anything that will be reproduced.  I’ve also found that my (new) Alizarin is mixed with Perylene Maroon, possibly to improve its lightfastness — but this isn’t the same Alizarin as I used to use (this being one of the reasons I got Permanent Rose).

I’ve found that there are mixing combinations, aside from the ideal ones I was taught in Color Dynamics, which are really interesting.  They’re actually more interesting to me than the ones I was taught there (which can get kind of — if not literally — formulaic).  Color Dynamics taught me how to mix the clearest tones (like a usable violet), but a little bit of mess in the mixture makes things less predictable, and a lot more engaging for me.

(I say “mess” because I don’t remember exactly how I got to some of these shades, particularly where it comes to green [from which primaries?] mixed with orange [from which primaries?].)  To clarify:  all of these colors were mixed from primary colors with different color overtones.  The differing overtones cause the secondary (and on) colors to differ strongly in character.  I had to go out and get these if I wanted to use a full spectrum in gouache, because otherwise I could barely make a green or an orange (the only yellow I had was Yellow Ochre).  Purchasing what I did opened up green (blue + yellow) and orange (red + yellow) to me, as well as yellow, itself.

It’s kind of amazing, how much power one primary color has, when it’s not there.  Without it, you have access to two primaries and one secondary color; half the color wheel.

What I didn’t do was test out any of the earth tones or black pigments, tonight.

Also, a disposable coated-paper palette actually works well for this stuff.  I don’t like to put a lot of paint down the drain, because it probably isn’t good for the water supply or my hands, with regard to chemical exposure.  With the disposable paper, all I have to do is tear off the top sheet and dispose of it in the garbage — probably not the most eco-friendly move either, but at least it’s semi-contained.

Well, I’ve been here for a little while.  I should get some sleep:  homework, tomorrow.


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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.

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