Playing with color mixing

Last night’s project did inspire me to see what kind of a color gamut I’d be able to produce with gouache (opaque watercolor). I also took note of the fact that colors mixed using the same pigments tend to harmonize.

With that in mind, and also knowing that I didn’t know my gouache well enough to tell how each color related to the next, tonight I just sat down and started painting out and mixing colors (without attempting to do anything like the lightfastness chart I completed last night for my transparent watercolors).

prismatic (rainbow) color mixing chart
I seem to have missed an intense red-violet and yellow-green. Right now I’m wondering what kind of muted colors and chromatic greys I can get out of this prismatic range.

It’s probably immediately apparent that I seem to be interested in cool colors more than warm ones. The above chart was made using seven colors, all Holbein with the exception of Permanent Rose and Intense Blue, which are Winsor & Newton brand:

  1. Permanent Rose
  2. Primary Magenta
  3. Ultramarine Light
  4. Intense Blue
  5. Peacock Blue
  6. Lemon Yellow
  7. Permanent White

Pretty much all the colors in the image are mixed rather heavily with Permanent White, so that the colors can actually be recognized. Both of the brands of paint I used here don’t have white as a filler in the gouache itself (neither does M. Graham & Co.). This is a sign of quality. It also means that the paint often needs to be mixed with white for both opacity, and for the color to be visible: I can see that if I use these often, I will likely need white in a larger quantity.

However, I don’t need it yet.

Peacock Blue is the only paint here which contains more than one pigment in its tube (there is some Phthalo Green mixed in there along with Phthalo Blue), and is also the only paint containing a pigment which isn’t essentially a primary color.

I used three blues, here, because I wanted to see what they would do. Intense Blue is a Phthalo color, while Ultramarine Light is…what it looks like. I wanted to see if I could make clear violets out of it, and the answer is apparently yes.

The Ultramarine I had experience with, prior, was Ultramarine Deep — it makes violets so dark (close to black) that I haven’t made the time to properly dilute them to see their actual character. Ultramarine can come with a green or violet bias. It looked like Ultramarine Deep was a violet-bias paint while Ultramarine Light was a green-bias paint, but the latter still works well for violets (apparently!). It just needs a nice violet-leaning reddish color like Permanent Rose or Primary Magenta.

I tried to mix colors which I thought would be adjacent to each other on the color wheel — so, for instance, I didn’t try mixing violets with Phthalo Blue as a component. Not yet.

Something that did surprise me is that Permanent Rose (top left corner) plus Lemon Yellow make a color extremely similar to Flame Red, even though both Permanent Rose and Lemon Yellow are on the cool side of the color gamut for both red and yellow. Flame Red, however, is a warm, intense red-orange. The mixture I’m referencing is in the lower left corner of the image above, and closer in color to Winsor & Newton’s Flame Red than Holbein’s Flame Red.

Given that…I am wondering if I got Peacock Blue because it was close to cyan, or just because it was pretty…the fact that red can be mixed from magenta + yellow is something I had heard about but not experienced, until now. (I’m talking about the CMYK system of color mixing, where red is not seen as a true primary color because you can get red from magenta + yellow, but you can’t derive magenta from anything we presently know of.)

Alright, I’ve talked enough tonight. I’m kind of itching to get back to my planning journal — I’ve been making notes about the content of future posts without the necessity of actually publishing them, yet. The fact that I had discovered that Web Production could be a full-time job is part of what I mentioned last night…essentially it’s like being an editor, but online.

That would be a really interesting outlet, I think! It involves the generation and development of ideas, content, and — likely, if my instruction in Marketing serves — the questions of relevance to the organization’s goals and user base. This would be in contrast to making the website functional (Web Development), or making it aesthetically pleasing and communicate in a user-friendly manner (Web Design).

I generally shy away from being in charge of things, but I could see myself working in a Web Production capacity, especially if I were passionate about the project…

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Lightfastness testing chart, final version

I completed my watercolor lightfastness testing chart tonight, though it hasn’t spent time in direct sunlight, yet. Apologies for the poor lighting in the photo documentation (this all took place after dark)!

There is, I think, a lot I’ve learned from this project (and the phase of exposing this to daylight, has barely begun). I’ve been trying to get this chart done before school starts up, but if last semester was any hint, I might want to start studying now. 😛

Anyhow, below is what I’ve currently got:

watercolor lightfastness testing chart -- final version

The majority of these colors are Winsor & Newton brand, with notable departures (which, for your sake, I feel the need to get to, below).

For those who have been following this project, I did make it out earlier to get a Pyrrole Orange pigment — this is PO73, in the far right column. (I also got a better Raw Umber: both Daniel Smith and M. Graham had online swatches with nice flow.) I had planned to get a W&N color, but second-guessed myself when I saw that M. Graham & Co. also made a Scarlet Pyrrol with the same pigment (which I had skipped over and just not seen, online. One of the downsides of the Web is that you don’t see what you don’t see…).

I don’t think it totally replaces Grumbacher’s Vermilion Deep (just to its left in the chart above), but then again, I’m having less and less faith in that paint performing well. I did try again to paint Vermilion Deep out tonight, to see if the lack of wet-in-wet flow was something I wasn’t doing right, or if it was a characteristic of the paint itself. At this point, I think the latter is true.

Nor does it really give me any reassurance to know that the paint is made of four separate pigments (as I realized when making pigment notes on those black papers [Strathmore ArtAgain coal black paper — acid-free and heavy], though I just now realize that those papers may well fade in the sunlight as well as the paints! and that in turn could compromise the protection for the paints underneath the flaps…not to mention the visibility of my pigment notes).

Ah, right: I also just now realize that no one here really knows what I did. I thought I took photos during my working process tonight, but I must have forgotten to turn on the camera–! Seriously, I took the camera out, and everything. I don’t know what happened, except maybe I forgot to take pictures and thought I did, or had a critical user error. (I don’t think it’s a problem with my camera!)

Right now I have photos of every sample cut out and rearranged from their prior order (photos shown last post), with the little black rectangular shielding papers attached by a Scotch Tape hinge, and secured by a little more tape over the white part of the swatch. Then, I have photos of everything stuck down with a roll of tape on the back of each sample, which I should be able to remove. I just bit it and stuck it to a piece of Bristol board, too, which is good in that it gives structure to the piece. It’s just likely unnecessarily expensive.

The final product is what you see, above.

Less about the process and more about what I learned: it was very enlightening to note down the pigment codes of everything I had, because then I could see what I didn’t actually need.

For instance, Sap Green (PG36 + PY110) should be able to be produced by a mix of Phthalo Green [Yellow Shade] (PG36) with Isoindolinone Yellow (PY110) — which I have, now. What I’m paying for is basically for the company to discover and mix it for me, unless I didn’t have and didn’t want either of its parent pigments; or this is one of those cases like Permanent Magenta (PV19) and Permanent Rose (PV19) sharing the same pigment code and apparently just being different variants of chemicals similar enough to be classified as the same thing. (See the lower right corner of the above photo for an illustration.)

I also realized that W&N Payne’s Grey and W&N Indigo look harmonious because they’re a mix of three of the same pigments, just in different proportions. I had mentioned the harmony recently — likely in my last post, or the one just before it. That is, the colors looked like they were in a range (and I guess they were).

Also, W&N Burnt Umber seems to be a mix of other earth pigments…which makes me want to investigate what actual Burnt Umber looks like.

*sigh*

Okay, so what is not Winsor & Newton brand? Working from right to left, and top to bottom:

  1. The Raw Umber at the upper right corner (M. Graham & Co.): PBr7
  2. Lamp Black (Holbein): PBk6
  3. Prussian Blue (Daniel Smith): PB27
  4. Cerulean Blue Chromium (Daniel Smith): PB36
  5. Hansa Yellow (M. Graham & Co.): PY3
  6. Isoindoline Yellow Deep (Holbein): PY110
  7. Scarlet Pyrrol (M. Graham & Co.): PO73
  8. Vermilion Deep (Grumbacher): PR188, PR173, PR209, PY3
  9. Rose Madder (Mijello Mission Gold): PR176

The photo above is also sideways; paint names are visible to the left of the color painted, but I thought the pigment codes were likely more valuable — and visible — than the paint names (some of which, like “Phthalo Blue” instead of “Winsor Blue,” I’ve altered as I can memorize them).

And finally, those two out of order in the lower right corner are colors that I’ve decided not to use for now (various reasons), but am testing them for lightfastness anyway, as it may become valuable information in the future (particularly as regards PO62, which is in another mix on this palette [W&N Indian Yellow: PO62, PY139]).

I don’t regret getting Scarlet Pyrrol at all, at this point. It’s a beautiful color and harmonizes nicely with Permanent Rose and Winsor Yellow, at the least. I’m also softening up on the Winsor & Newton Cotman (as versus Professional) Cadmium Orange Hue, at least until I can see if it fades. It’s not terrible, but it is the only student-grade paint in this chart. That said, with the caveat that its lightfastness is to be determined, it performs better than some of the artist-grade paints.

At this point, I’m wondering what would happen if I took all the convenience mixes away: what would I have left in single-pigment paints, and could I get by with that? (Probably! But I would also probably start filling the spaces in my palette with other single-pigment paints, to mix colors I couldn’t get otherwise…)

I have more material to write about: particularly that producing web content could be a full-time job, aside from the web development and design angles; targeting an audience (a.k.a. remembering who you are); subject matter for art; and how I have begun to remember who I am (those last three things are entangled)…but I’ve written enough for tonight.

I will set this to post at 7:30 my time. For now (it’s 2:30 AM here), I can get some rest.