Color mixing.

Right now I’m wondering about the practicality of doing a blog post after every time I do something creative…though it is motivational, I guess.

Pyrrol oranges and reds.
Pyrrol colors.

From what you can see on the left, I did some more experimenting with Pyrrol colors, today.

I did take a trip out to an art store, and picked up a tube of Daniel Smith’s Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255), upper left. This is different from M. Graham & Co.’s Scarlet Pyrrol (PO73), lower left. They don’t even use the same pigments (the pigment codes are in parenthesis above; “PR” stands for “Pigment Red,” while “PO” stands for “Pigment Orange”).

What I already had which it is closest to, is Winsor Red (PR254), upper right. I suppose I can take some comfort in it not being an exact match…

On the bottom of the above image, you can see that I re-tested Winsor Orange Red Shade (bottom right) against M. Graham’s Scarlet Pyrrol (bottom left). They both carry the same pigment code, PO73. But last night I was talking about backruns and weird textures with M. Graham and not with Winsor & Newton; today I had the opposite happen. I’m now thinking it has to do with the pigment properties themselves.

This became clearer when I tested out DS’s Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on the upper left, against Winsor Red (PR 254) on the upper right. Winsor Red is a kind of weird red in that it doesn’t lean either to the violet or the orange side very much; it’s kind of a lipstick-looking red. However, Pyrrol Scarlet is a little, tiny bit more orange. But all of these colors are Pyrrol colors, and from what I’ve seen, they all can do the weird backflow rivulet thing wet-in-wet which makes the paint look grainy. It’s just that sometimes, they don’t.

I’m thinking it has to do with the amount of water that has soaked into the paper (as versus the amount of water still on the surface of the paper), and the amount of time the paint has to spread from the brush onto the paper, as well as the amount of paint in the brush. I originally re-did this test to see if I could get the Winsor Orange Red Shade (lower right) to match the intensity I got out of M. Graham’s Scarlet Pyrrol (lower left), last night. The good thing is, I can; these just seem to be a finicky family of pigments!

Or, maybe I should say that the Pyrrol pigments require some extra skill in handling?

I did do some mixing tests with these colors, but I didn’t get to use the DS Permanent Yellow Deep, which I want to try soon. I think I was using the M. Graham Isoindolinone Yellow Deep, just because it was already on my palette, and it was brighter. The range of colors I got out of that didn’t surprise me, so I didn’t prep a special photo of it for here. But I do want to do some more mixing tests, soon.

Below is a photo of a section of my paper where I was basically messing around with DS Prussian Blue (I kind of love this color, even though it does grey out slightly in four months of direct sunlight), and Winsor Blue Green Shade, that is, Phthalocyanine Blue Green Shade, plus Winsor (Phthalo) Green Yellow Shade. I found that Winsor Green Yellow Shade is more stable under direct sunlight than Winsor Green Blue Shade, for at least the first four months. I’m not entirely certain, why.

Test paper: experimental painting
Playing around on my testing paper.

But I tried adding blue (in the top left, this is Prussian Blue) to Winsor Green Yellow Shade to see if I could shift it bluer — and I can. I can also add Aureolin (the yellow rectangle near the center) to make it greener; Aureolin (PY40) naturally has a green shift to it which causes it to appear “dirty” on the palette. It’s good for incremental hue shifts, though, as it shades greens yellower very delicately.

The major drawback to Aureolin is that you don’t want to get it on your skin for any length of time, as it’s a Cobalt color (this did happen to me at one time, painting in the field; it’s not good, as cobalt is a known carcinogen and can cause skin irritation on exposure. The irony is that I wouldn’t have gotten Aureolin all over my bare hand if it weren’t for a nitrile (or latex?) glove screwing up my grip, causing paint to get all over the tube and all over my hand. As I was outside, my closest options to stop the damage were to wash my hand off in the lake [thus polluting the lake and getting possibly nastier stuff on my hand] or to wash it off in my paintbrush rinse water…or, find a bathroom).

I didn’t get to try Green Gold in addition to any of these colors, but I should make a note that I do want to try it, later. This is another color that there just wasn’t a well for, on my palette.

Reminding me: I may eventually want to get a serious metal palette with half-pans that I can easily rearrange and swap out (if that exists)…

Toward the end of my painting session, you can see I kind of got warmed up. I started toying around with Permanent Rose + Permanent Magenta, and mixing that wet-into-wet with Payne’s Grey, in the center bottom of the above photo.

enlargement of section of second image
Can’t remember exactly how I made those squiggles…

Then I started mixing Phthalo Blue Green Shade with Prussian Blue, and blending that wet-into-wet with Perm. Rose + Perm. Magenta, which made these really nice squiggles you can see to the right, here.

I think the noodle below the blue-violet one, going into the lower right corner is Permanent Magenta + Dioxazine Violet, though I can’t be sure anymore at this point. I wasn’t taking notes; this entry is serving as my reminder to myself of what I’ve done!

On that note, I should also mention that I have gotten to the point with these paints where I don’t even know all the time which paint is which. I think I did set up a key, somewhere, which would be nice to find sometime soon.

The major culprits in my not being able to tell which paint is which, happen to be two yellow paints sitting next to each other…I know one is Winsor Yellow. I just don’t recall, anymore, what the other one is. It’s fairly nondescript. I can remember Isoindolinone Yellow Deep, Hansa Yellow Light, and Aureolin. I’ll have to go through my tubes to look up that last one, especially as I have no idea where I saved my spreadsheet of colors…


Some photos to go with the last post:

Earlier tonight I took some pictures referencing what I spoke about in my last (relatively cryptic) post. To recap, I tested out some differing brands of paints which have similar pigments, if not the same pigment. (They did have the same pigment code.) What I found, was kind of interesting.

My “new” paints were Winsor Orange (Red Shade): PO73, second from the left, compared with M. Graham’s Scarlet Pyrrol (also PO73); and Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep: PY110, third from the left, compared with Holbein’s Isoindolinone Yellow Deep (also PY110).

I also tested out M. Graham’s Ultramarine Violet Deep, though that one…I’m going to have to think on. It’s naturally a very delicate color, especially when compared to Dioxazine Violet (which I didn’t include in these photos). It actually reminds me of amethyst.

I am thinking that Ultramarine Violet Deep may pair well with Payne’s Grey. Possibly the other blue-violets, too (Indanthrene?), and maybe Prussian Blue, but my (Winsor & Newton) French Ultramarine does overpower it, used full strength. Of course, though, French Ultramarine is more powerful than regular Ultramarine.

Below, see an image of the relevant test swatches:

Comparison between different brands with similar pigments. The one on the right is just for fun.

It’s kind of faint here, but the Scarlet Pyrrol had a backrun which caused the paint to appear grainy. Winsor Orange Red Shade, however, although it seems a little less powerful in this treatment, is relatively very controlled in its dispersal. I have a close-up of the left two paints:

Two red-orange test swatches of watercolor paint.
M. Graham Scarlet Pyrrol (left) vs. Winsor Orange Red Shade (both PO73)

Hopefully, that’s a bit clearer. The top row is of each paint, wet-on-dry, whereas the bottom row is of each paint, wet-into-wet (I did accidentally touch the two squares). I mentioned quite a while ago that the Scarlet Pyrrol appeared “corroded” in my lightfastness testing, both above and below the strip to block out sunlight. In this test, the water on my brush ran back into the paint and pushed the pigment into what look like little rivulets of more intense red-orange color.

I didn’t obtain the Winsor Orange Red Shade until after the swatches I had made had been exposed to sunlight for four months, so I don’t know how it will fare in lightfastness testing. It does seem a little less intense than the M. Graham, though that could have been because I was using the M. Graham from a dried/rehydrated state and the Winsor & Newton color from a moist state. I also might just not have used enough of the W&N paint.

As for the Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep, I’m very happy with it. It has better dispersal than the Holbein formulation (which just made a line at my last brush stroke), but then Holbein is specifically designed without dispersants. The Holbein is actually noticeably brighter, as well. At this point, I’m not entirely certain how to feel about that…a lot of serious watercolorists do use the more muted colors. (I’d…consider myself a hobbyist, at this point, with the potential for growth.)

mixed orange watercolors
various oranges.

I’ve just prepped an image of what PO73 + PY110 look like together, and it’s relatively pleasant! It’s just a little duller than Cotman Cadmium Orange Hue, but I found that the latter actually fades relatively quickly and significantly…which is something to keep in mind when painting florals.

Both orange squares to the right are mixes of PO73 + PY110, while the vertical and horizontal lines are Cotman Cadmium Orange Hue. I’ve altered the Exposure setting on this image to try and undo some of the low light conditions, but it feels pretty close.

I forgot to take “After” pictures of the lightfastness swatches I worked, I just realized; something I should likely record. (They were sitting in the window fading for four months, which showed me which paints not to use. Since then, I haven’t put them back up, pending photographs.)

I’m also seriously and sort of stupidly wondering if I do want to get a tube of Quinacridone Coral, now: I am going to try and get rid of my Grumbacher Deep Vermilion, which leaves a gap in the orange-leaning reds. (The majority of my reds lean violet, which is a pain when I want to paint something red-orange or any kind of warm orange color! [Violet-leaning reds typically don’t yield intense oranges.])

There is a hidden assumption here, for those of you who are new: I’m avoiding cadmium-based pigments (particularly, red, orange, and yellow). Hence, the hunt for safer alternatives. Pyrrol Orange is definitely one of those, as far as I can see, but it has a peach bias.

I’ve found that at this point, there are a number of colors I want to avoid using for serious work. The Grumbacher Deep Vermilion is one of those. I might use it out of its well just to avoid wasting it, but it’s terrible for wet-in-wet work, and it greys out a bit when exposed to direct sunlight.

And for regular blog followers and botany enthusiasts; I have more recent pictures of my succulents, but I’ll put them in another post. 🙂

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…

Continuation: lightfastness chart photos

Thinking back on it, maybe it would have been best to delay gratification and combine this post and the last, into one. 🙂 In any case, I do now have photos.

color chart (aided by Photoshop)
I used Photoshop to cut out the two empty rows on the left, between the reds and blues.

I’ve opted for a more natural look to this, instead of trying to make the white of the paper as close as possible to the white of the screen, which distorts the colors a bit. There is a brightness adjustment added to this, but that’s all.

I’ll be identifying the colors by Row (top to bottom) and Column (left to right), for my international readers…I realize this might not be immediately apparent.

I also need to let you know a bit of errata: Viridian (Row 4, Column 5) isn’t a cobalt color, it’s a chromium color. I have a pattern of confusing one for the other…

Last night, I was also mistaken in saying that Vermilion Deep was the only paint in which I got brush strokes: Raw Umber (Row 3, Column 6) did it too, but I don’t expect much from Raw Umber, at this point (maybe I should try a different brand).

Anyhow: see that Winsor Orange (Row 2, Column 4)? Gah. It’s just terrible compared to the majority of the colors. Because my Winsor Orange tube also has a cracked cap and wanted to gush when I tried getting the cap off the tube (it was stuck and I had to really work to get it off)...and it grays out really quickly once I try to mix it…I’m not entirely certain what I’m going to do with it. Maybe I’ll go to an artists’ meetup and conveniently forget it/donate it…

blue test swatches

This time, swatching out the blues did produce an effect that is visible on a computer monitor (…I think?). Some of these colors, though…

I was working wet-into-wet, here. With a fully loaded brush, sometimes the paint dispersed immediately to leave the area I intended to mark heavily, leaving mid-range coverage in its wake. With some paints, like Cobalt Blue (second from the top, to the left), the paint actually seemed to try to cover the entire area evenly, instead of in a gradation. This would be a good thing if you were using it for a sky, which this color is almost perfect for (unless you didn’t want a blue sky!).

I had been trying to produce gradations to see what finer applications of the colors might do under sunlight.

One of the things I am impressed with, though, is the beauty of the colors which are more muted, here. I think I started out in class with French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, and Phthalo Blue (Green Shade). Cerulean Blue Chromium, Prussian Blue, and Indanthrene Blue were all later additions.

I’ve mentioned before that I read on that indanthrene/indanthrone can be approximated by a mix of Phthalo Blue with Quinacridone Violet (a.k.a. Permanent Magenta, in Winsor & Newton’s range: Row 6, Column 1) — check the notes under PB60 (Pigment Blue 60). I’ve tried this, and it does work, though the mix is obviously going to vary in shade depending on proportions.

I can also see myself working with Prussian Blue more, in the future. I believe I got this to try and mix decent greens…with my memory being unclear on whether it actually helps, though I think it does.

swatches of red paints

To the right, here, are the reds I’ll be testing. The relative character of Permanent Rose does, I think, come through — though this is still a bit of a dull capture. I’m looking at it now under an artificial light and it seems to almost glow. (This is Winsor & Newton’s formulation: different companies have a tendency to call the same pigments by different names.)

The top two, Rose Madder and Alizarin Crimson, are known to change color over time; hence they’re called fugitive pigments. I’m doing the lightfastness test to see how bad this actually is.

Incidentally…those two colors are related. They were originally derived from Madder (a plant) — Alizarin Crimson is one of two components that make up its color…

Anyway, the top swatch is Mijello Mission Gold — I got it as a bonus when I bought my palette. But even here, they acknowledged that it is not great so far as longevity…The second swatch, Alizarin Crimson, is Winsor & Newton brand. I’m not crazy about it, when there are alternatives.

I really like the Winsor Red (fourth from the top), after all this time. This was our “warm” red in Watercolor class (using a split-primary palette), though it barely leans to either a warm or cool direction. (Permanent Rose was our cool red.)

I’m not sure what to do with Vermilion Deep, though as I said last post, I’m going to try and find a better-quality paint. This one had almost no flow, and I’m not sure if it’s due to age (I got it on Amazon, who knows how old it is) or formulation. Maybe the page was just too dry?

Permanent Magenta isn’t showing up in the photograph, all that well…but I just checked another file and it’s similarly distorted. Permanent Magenta is basically a red-leaning violet color, more than a violet-leaning red. There’s an earthiness that it shares with Indanthrene Blue, which one might expect…

When mixing two pigment colors — like Permanent Magenta and Phthalo Blue (excluding fluorescent colors [which absorb light and re-emit it at different wavelengths], duochrome paints [which look different depending on one’s viewing angle] and complex things like dichroic glass [which both transmit and reflect light, though this may be an entirely different animal]) — the result of the mix reflects frequencies of light that have to be reflected by both (?) of the colors which went into it, unless I’m mistaken.

The basis of subtractive color (as used in non-digital painting) is that we perceive color as the leftovers of the light absorbed. The frequencies of reflected and emitted light, taken together, our brains interpret as a specific color. So Permanent Magenta reflects many wavelengths (colors of light), which my brain interprets as predominantly warm violet, with red. And Phthalo Blue reflects many wavelengths, which my brain interprets as deep blue with a hint of green.

When pigments are mixed, what is left over after both pigments subtract what they will of the light present, is the new color. In other words, a color very close to Indanthrene Blue is the light which was not absorbed by both Permanent Magenta and Phthalo Blue. Magenta absorbs some of what Blue doesn’t; Blue absorbs some of what Magenta doesn’t.

The forward result is a deep, inky blue with both violet and green tones supporting it, closer to black (black means no light is reflected), which makes sense…though I’m not sure I could do the math now to support why I think it does make sense. The following is just hypothetical:

On a scale from white (100%) to black (0%) — we’re talking about value, now —

Some light is subtracted from 100% with Magenta (Magenta would have a negative value); and more light is subtracted with Magenta + Blue (Blue would also have a negative value; the addition of a negative value is the same as subtraction). Even though this is not simple subtraction (after all, we are talking about many, many frequencies of light which are being tweaked individually), if Black = 0% and both Magenta and Blue subtract their part from 100% (white light), it seems feasible to state that:

close up of Permanent Magenta, Phthalo Blue, and Indanthrene Blue in greyscale

Magenta + Blue < Magenta, and

Magenta + Blue < Blue.

Wow, that was hard to get out. And I might be wrong, or maybe I should go into Chemistry + Optics…

There is the remaining fact that my Phthalo Blue swatch is indeed darker than my Indanthrene Blue swatch. I’m thinking that this has to do largely with the density of its application, not to mention the intensity of Phthalo Blue pigment, which has to be severely diluted to get to the point where we can even see that it’s blue. I do see that Indanthrene is grayer, though, and I wonder if that matters…

I’ve just looked at the image in greyscale, but I’m not sure that helps…

It doesn’t help, either, that my camera didn’t totally pick up the intensity of the Phthalo Blue application. I’m not sure why.

To get back on track, then…there are the yellows. I kind of am irritated at myself for not planning their placement out better, and it’s to the point that I don’t want to cut them out and rearrange them on Photoshop. But if you scroll back up to the top of the page, or better yet, if I re-post that image below:

color chart (aided by Photoshop)

…you can see that Isoindoline Yellow Deep (PY110), Indian Yellow (PO62, PY139 — just realized that this is a mix of Winsor Orange [!] and a different variant of Isoindoline Yellow), Winsor Yellow Deep (PY65) all look very similar.

For the cool yellows, Winsor Yellow (PY154), Hansa Yellow (PY3), and Aureolin (PY40) are hard to tell apart, here: but it’s not so bad in person — at least, when the sun is up!

Then there are the oranges, neither of which I’m too fond of, but Cadmium Orange Hue did save me from having to mix orange from the limited pigments we were allowed, in Watercolor class. It’s possible that the intensity of Cadmium Orange just can’t be gotten out of the colors we had. Maybe I should stop looking toward the yellows for the source of the problem, and try mixing more with an orangish, warm red, instead of a middling red.

At Green Gold (Row 3, Column 4), the yellows start morphing into greens. I feel the need to suggest that perhaps what I had mentioned before about mixing an alternative in acrylics from Bronze Yellow + an Earth Yellow + a blue, may have been off point. You see, Green Gold doesn’t look like it’s meant to be used on its own, but rather sparingly, to do things like warm up greens. It looks fairly horrific on its own and in high density, but look at this:


This is something I was playing with, a while back (hence the example number, I just pulled this from my archives): apologies for the lack of realism (it wasn’t the point of this exercise). Green Gold is what I used to heat up the right side of that leaf. It’s also transparent, so it’s very suited for this.

I don’t think that a mixture approximating what one sees in the tube or applied heavily, really gets close to what one would use Green Gold for. As I said a while back, Green Gold is a very expensive pigment. But I can see that a little goes a long way.

It wouldn’t have come to me so soon, except that in my latest play, I rinsed the Green Gold watercolor paint off of my palette and saw it form an almost neon yellow-green color in high dilutions in the sink. This isn’t something that’s meant to be used as-is, but rather combined with other colors.

I also really want to get into trying to mix more greens, so I can stop dealing with the question of how to create a yellow-leaning green. This is part of why I got Sap Green, unless I’m mistaken (I think the only green we were allowed in class was Viridian…which at the time, I hated. Not so much, now).

Speaking of Viridian, I’ve been advised not to let it dry long-term on a palette. I took this advice and kept it out of my Mijello palette; however, this also means that it goes forgotten, a lot of the time. But I don’t want it to become like Burnt Umber and just become a free-floating rock whose composition I have to guess at. (Burnt Umber still rehydrates beautifully; it just rattles around as — well — a rock, in dry form.)

three granulating green to green-blue pigments

I have an appreciation for Cobalt Turquoise now, that I don’t think I could have predicted. These two colors — Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Turquoise Light — are heavily granulating colors. I’m not sure if I’ve played with them too much, but the three pigments to the right are ones that are relatively intriguing for me, right now.

Particularly, it may be possible to get a more vivid range of greens by starting with a lighter-valued intense pigment like Cobalt Turquoise Light.

Also: Indigo and Payne’s Grey…are two colors that kind of wow me, now. Payne’s Grey is a cool-toned color which is almost, but not quite, black. If black brackets one end of a color range, Payne’s Grey would sit between it and Indigo.

The Indigo color I have is Winsor & Newton, and it isn’t actually true indigo dye (as real indigo is fugitive, this being why jeans fade).

Aside from this, I feel the need to mention, if briefly, Dioxazine Violet (Row 2, Column 5)…which is probably not a necessary color on this palette, now.

Earth tone paint swatches

And the entire column to the left of this passage, including Payne’s Grey, is composed of earth tones. The only one of these that I’m questioning the utility of is Raw Umber, because what I’m seeing in my photos and on my paper is what I’d consider, fairly…well, bad. I’m not sure if it’s me or the paint, or the amount of water on the paper…but I think it’s the paint. This is Winsor & Newton, as well.

The thing about Raw Umber is that I’ve been looking at paint swatches of different brands online, and they don’t all look alike. I’m not entirely sure…what causes that? but there are definitely versions which are bluer than others. In Color Dynamics class, we made a mixture of Ultramarine plus Raw Umber to produce a blend which could dull down colors without causing them to lose their essential character (or “hue,” if you would like me to be direct). 🙂

And in Watercolor class, we didn’t even use earth tones; we mixed them by utilizing a strategy of mixing across the color wheel (as I’ve mentioned [somewhere] before, this will result in muted colors, ranging into chromatic greys). I’m really not sure if anyone liked doing it. 😉 But earth pigments are a nice shortcut if you don’t want to mix skin tones out of three primaries. 😛

The nice part about mixing watercolors is that if you use a white palette, you can see what color you’re coming up with before you ever put it on the paper (though that can’t always be exactly accurate — I’ve seen artists online make test marks on the edges of their drawings. I used to make test marks on the facing pages of the sketchbooks…).

After all of that — unless my light, here, has already faded some of this, I should be moving on to putting black strips over the faces of the swatches. I’m probably also going to be doing some cutting in the process…which will likely be at least a little nerve-wracking, because I haven’t completely gotten the hang of not having my knife veer off course, yet!

Anyhow, that’s for another day…

Toyed with FW inks, last night:

I have a little time to write, here, but am not entirely sure of how much use I’ll be.

Yesterday, my godmother came over for a visit, so most of my waking hours were spent with her and M.  I did manage to get in some time to play with colors, but I ended up toying with the acrylic inks instead of dealing with jumping directly back into the watercolors.  (It’s probably because of the packaging, I’m not even kidding:  the FW inks kind of beg to be used in those little glass bottles.)

Taken in filtered daylight
Taken under fluorescent lighting









I have done a bit of an experiment, here, though, with the photography.  I took a bunch of pictures of my work (most of which isn’t up here, because all it is, is my practicing Japanese writing [mostly, the same sentence] in multiple colors and nib sizes), and realized today on upload that I used the wrong lighting setting.  I should have used the “Tungsten” setting instead of the “Fluorescent” setting, as the latter leaves a lot of cleanup work.  The former blues everything out, but it doesn’t leave a heavy orange cast over everything like the “Fluorescent” setting does.

Anyhow…I did the above play last night and was curious about what it would look like under daylight today, so I took a second set of photos.  Both of the photos above have had Levels adjustments applied to them in Photoshop, though surprisingly, the night photo appears a bit clearer in relation to color.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t take the daylight photo under full daylight?

In any case, these are FW acrylic inks, as mentioned above.  I started out playing with “Rowney Blue” (PB15) + “Yellow Ochre” (PBk7/PY1:1), then — if my memory is correct — expanded to “Dark Green” (PG36) plus “Brilliant Yellow” (PY3/PY83).  There is probably a definite reason to use Brilliant Yellow over Yellow Ochre, given that the former is a slightly more brilliant hue than the latter, and that I’ve read that PY1:1 is to be avoided, as it’s apparently fugitive.

But anyway, I was curious as to what would turn out if I started blending colors which were not adjacent on the color wheel.  Rowney Blue is the nearest FW ink I have to Cyan (though they do make a Process Cyan color) — that is, all the other ones are either more green, or less saturated.  What I did find interesting is how quickly the blue ink tinted to deep green on contact with the Yellow Ochre ink.  I’m not used to a yellow reacting so quickly, visibly and strongly with a blue.  My gradation in this respect is found in the marks which appear to look like a tail, in the above photos.

I also did find with these, though, that if you want a stronger green, you may have to pull in a different pigment.  This is why I started using Dark Green, as I could make some nice greens with the former colors, but they were slightly grayed out.  Dark Green added some vividness, and along with Brilliant Yellow, made some really high-key greens that are visible above the “tail” section, above.

I did find, though, that like acrylic paints, these things dry extremely quickly; and so if you want to get color bleeds like you can in watercolors, you have a very limited time frame (seconds) to do so, before the first layer sets (at top left in the photos, I was moving too slowly).

It’s surprising to me that I was able to get such nice greens out of these colors.  Usually when I think about colors like Hansa Yellow Deep, I don’t think of making excellent greens with them.  To my eye, the yellow leans towards orange; however, maybe my eye is a bit off? and orange-leaning yellows can make saturated greens.

Anyhow, got to go…

Mixing greens, and experimenting with camera settings…

Well, I got two things off of my list.  Everything else had to wait until after watercolor experimentation (hey the sun was up!).  😛

From top to bottom:  Lemon Yellow (Hansa Yellow Light)/Prussian Blue, Lemon Yellow/Chrome Cerulean (Daniel Smith), Winsor Yellow/Chrome Cerulean, Winsor Yellow/Prussian Blue.  In these tests I made a near-middle green first, then extended the color into blue going down; and yellow, going to the right.

I’m in the middle of relearning that in art, most skills and techniques can’t be learned unless the artist goes out of their way to try it themselves.  Learning about it in theory, or learning about it secondhand, won’t suffice.  Thus, listening to other people say what can and can’t be done, or will and won’t work, isn’t entirely productive.  Those other people may not share your conditions (as, say, maybe M. Graham paints do actually never dry, in tropical conditions; but maybe I don’t live in tropical conditions).

Today M stated that if I went to the art store again, I couldn’t go back for a week, because I was addicted.  *^_^*  I opted not to go and to save that trip for a later date, even though we were right there.  I knew that if I could first practice with the paints I have, I would then have a better idea about anything I needed, as versus something I might need but was not sure about.

What I can tell, though:  15ml tubes are probably about the right size for intense color.  I have a bunch of tiny tubes (5-7 ml), but really those are great for testing colors…not for being mainstays.  And I’m not sure if I want to keep to Winsor & Newton, now that I have had a taste of other brands (particularly:  Grumbacher, M. Graham [I really love their Hansa Yellow — it disperses beautifully — I haven’t tried it wet-on-wet yet], Daniel Smith, Mijello).

Of course, though, it’s necessary to be a smart consumer and know what you’re buying before you buy it — there have been a lot of complaints that I’ve seen about Mijello Mission Gold brand being “mislabeled,” but it really seems that “mislabeling” is industry-standard and that companies telling you the actual pigments they’re using is a mark of quality.  I don’t think they’re required to do so, unless the paints contain one or more ingredients requiring a carcinogen warning under California Proposition 65.

I’ve just been learning things piece by piece, and each new bit of information makes me want to experiment, more.  Unfortunately (or maybe, fortunately), there are no decent art stores in my area…and waiting at home encourages research

Anyhow, I’ve also been experimenting with camera settings.  The two photos I’m showing here were taken on the “Tungsten” lighting setting on my camera.  Although I was under fluorescent lighting, these images were the closest I came to what I had seen while the Sun was up (though they didn’t capture everything:  for example, M. Graham Hansa Yellow [I tend to just call this Lemon Yellow, as versus Hansa Yellow Light, or Pigment Yellow 3 {PY3} or Arylide Yellow, but in the spirit of accuracy…] and Winsor Green [Blue Shade] make a nearly fluorescent green combination when combined, seen below left).

(I tend to work by the edict that a color can be neutralized and thus dulled down, but the amount of light it reflects cannot be made brighter than it initially is…though that thought has been questioned by those around me…possibly because warm and fluorescent colors can appear psychologically brighter than white?  I don’t know.  I’ve noticed that I have a relatively high-key palette, though, and that is for this reason.)

Anyhow — every other camera setting cast a brownish tone over the entire image, which I knew I would have to edit out in Photoshop.  Turns out, it’s much easier to take the photo correctly, the first time.  😛  I also realized that I could alter the white balance on these images directly in my camera, instead of applying filters after the fact.  (Both of these images were taken with the white balance shifted a bit brighter than the light in the room.  Which, like taking the photo under the “Tungsten” setting even though I was under warm fluorescent light, did help with color fidelity.)

There was no processing after-the-fact (post-processing?) I knew how to do that I could do here, that would have helped — other than a judicious applying of the Skew tool to unskew my camera positioning.  But I thought that would be a little much.

Top to bottom:  Lemon Yellow/Winsor Green (Blue Shade), Winsor Yellow/Winsor Green (Blue Shade), Lemon Yellow/Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Yellow/Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Aureolin/Winsor Blue (Green Shade).  For newbies, Winsor Green and Blue are both Phthalocyanine colors, with Winsor & Newton branding in these particular names.  Aureolin is genuine Aureolin, PY40.

What I found is that I get some **** clean colors out of Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) and Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), when they’re combined with the lighter Hansa Yellow (which is a cool, delicate, light yellow, often referred to as “Lemon Yellow”).  Phthalo Blue (GS) combined with Aureolin also makes really bright, pure, strong mixes.  I will indeed be sad if Aureolin does discolor with moisture and/or light…

…and I’m thinking of going over some of these swatches again with glazing in their original color mixes, in order to deepen them.  (I’ve already done this on maybe 3 or so squares, where I used too much water.)  It will be easier to see differences in hue, that way.

Prussian Blue and Chrome Cerulean (1st image) also make decent mixes with Lemon Yellow; in addition to Prussian Blue mixing well with Winsor Yellow (according to Blick’s website and, this is a benzimidazolone [or Benzimida, I’ve also heard it called] yellow; and I’ve just manually checked it:  it is Pigment Yellow 154 [or, PY154], which concurs).

I got some really…slightly surprising reactions of the Chrome Cerulean with Winsor Yellow, however (1st image, third from the top).  I wouldn’t repeat the process, unless it were to see if the pigments settled out because of the amount of water in the paint (too much).  This mixture granulated heavily in the mixtures tending more toward Cerulean, in a way that I didn’t really find attractive or currently useful (you might, though!).  However, using less Cerulean and more Benzimida could add a subtle touch to …something.  I don’t know what, right now.

This is as far as I got today before I had to stop.  I was working on cheap paper because I was just doing scales…but I’ve got to say that the Fluid cold-press watercolor paper (second photo) was much more of a joy to work on than the Strathmore 300 rough I was trying to use up (in the first photo).

I’m kind of glad I don’t have any more of it, now… 😉

Did some tests tonight

I tried the hint of mixing Quinacridone Magenta (W&N Permanent Magenta) with Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), and did indeed come out with something that looks very much like Indanthrone Blue!  It was just a bit dilute because of all the water I added in order to rehydrate both of my paints, but if I didn’t skimp on it, I could probably make a full-strength mix.

I also painted out some Prussian Blue, which…I really like.  I know it’s safe under normal circumstances, so maybe I can carry that knowledge with me.  I’ve also decided to re-add Aureolin to my palette, though it doesn’t show in the image below (Trial 4):

Trial Four

…This is because I feel it might be useful in color mixing — particularly with cool greens — though it can’t really compete at all with Hansa Yellow for tinting strength.  I would put Aureolin between the lightest yellow (Hansa) and Sap Green.  I’ve also removed three colors (Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Winsor Orange, Cadmium Yellow Hue) due to multiple factors, varying with each paint.

The Hues are both Cotman (student grade) paints — from 2009 or before — and if I’m recalling correctly, they’re fugitive (though I haven’t verified that).  Winsor Orange just tends to dull mixes, and I don’t need it if I’ve got Cadmium Orange Hue (a much more recent formulation [2016, I’m thinking] which may be less fugitive than the 2009 version [known fugitive], though I haven’t checked my memory against sources) in Cotmans.

This gives me six empty pans to work with (if I fill one with Aureolin)…

Anyhow, the Prussian Blue is really pretty (especially combined with Phthalo Green [Blue Shade]), and I’m trying to figure out whether to purchase the professional-grade paint.  I know for a fact that the Cotman Prussian Blue (from 2009) doesn’t flow very well, but that’s to be expected of Cotmans — they’re really inexpensive.

I should get to bed sooner than later, but I wanted also to mention Cerulean.  I have a Cerulean Hue, which I’m not too fond of.  The only reason I mention it is that I’m not sure if I’ll need it for greens — I have Cobalt Blue, already, though.  I’ve just been reading on…maybe a Cobalt Turquoise could help and not be too similar to the Blue…or I could just swap the Turquoise for the Blue.

Cripes.  Okay.  I’ve just decided what I’m going to get.  Prussian Blue and Cerulean Genuine.  Tomorrow.  Okay, brain?

I’m going to bed.