Mossy, Knife Sharpening Green

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“All theory, Dear Friend, is gray.  But the Golden Tree of Life springs ever green.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (from Brainyquote.com)

Landscape painters, ceramists, make-up artists, soap makers and more love this mossy green pigment.  Chromium Green has been available for two centuries and has recently been discovered in the paintings of J. M. W. Turner dating to around 1812.  Few warnings accompany this lovely green paint reputed to cause only some minor skin irritation in a few people.  Those who eat it could have mild stomach upset so it is probably best not to ingest it.  Otherwise Chromium Green has a wealth of uses.Screen shot 2013-10-09 at 10.14.24 AM

Brittanica reports Chromium Green as having been discovered by French chemist Nicolas-Louis Vauquelin in 1797.    The name derives from its multi-colored compounds.  Merriam-Webster says “Chromium Green is a moderate yellow green that is greener and deeper than the average moss green, yellower and duller than the average pea green or apple green.“ “This natural green provides landscape artists rest in a summer painting saturated with vibrant greens,“ according to Daniel Smith.com. Natural Pigments.com has the scoop on the Turner discovery and is also a great source for purchasing the pigment.

While you are obtaining the pigment for mixing paint, you can also grab a bar of Chromium Green for sharpening your knives and sculpting tools.  A bit of Chromium Green in your roofing tiles will add some UV protection.  If you happen to be considering building a spaceship, Chromium Green can be mixed with other metals for “super high performing aerospace products.”  Or just add it to your camouflage for high infrared reflectance, whatever that might be.Screen shot 2014-02-13 at 10.32.24 PM

For many artists, Chromium Green is a must have for the paint box.  Mossy greens add a wonderful richness in any painting.  Chromium Green is beautiful in ceramics, as well.  Other non-artist fans of Chromium Green may be found on the rooftops fitting the tiles.  Or that spaceship your neighbor is building could feature some bits of Chromium Green in the materials but I wouldn’t get too close.  He may be guarding his spaceship in his infrared reflectant camouflage with the knives he recently sharpened on the leftover Chromium Green.  It’s probably best to stick with the people who only use Chromium Green in artist materials.  Steer clear of the ones with the spaceships and the knives.

Colorful Fridays–Everything’s Coming Up Orchids

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“A captivating harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid emanates great love, joy and health.” Leatrice Eiseman executive director, Pantone Color Institute

Frantically searching through paint boxes, “Radiant Orchid” is nowhere to be found. No “Radiant Orchid” in the watercolor box or the oil box. Can’t find it in the pastels either. Horror of horrors! What if the 2014 Color of the Year can’t be added to new paintings? Pantone has declared “Radiant Orchid” the 2014 Color of the Year. Nothing easy this year compared to last year’s Emerald. Anybody can find some Emerald and squeeze it right out of the tube. Not “Radiant Orchid!” No tube comes with that label. How can an artist paint something to go with all the “Radiant Orchid” furniture, walls, and other interior design features of 2014? The only option is to mix it.

Screen shot 2013-12-26 at 7.45.22 PMLeatrice Eiseman of Pantone describes “Radiant Orchid” as fuchsia, purple and pink undertones. That could be any number of color combinations available in the average artist’s paint supplies. The quinacradones, magentas, and cobalts possibly added to ultramarine or alizarin crimson. And don’t forget the mauves. The only way to find “Radiant Orchid” is to start mixing. The problem is in knowing when the exact match for “Radiant Orchid” has been achieved. Which orchids are the radiant ones?

But, have no fear! Pantone also states, “An invitation to innovation, “Radiant Orchid” encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.” While mixing the various reds and blues to come up with a personal version of “Radiant Orchid” that “expanded creativity” will be available to draw on. What more could an artist ask? So get those paint tubes out and start mixing. Or risk being undervalued in today’s society!

No telling what will happen with all that expanded creativity. A completely original version of “Radiant Orchid” may be revealed. The new mix can become, as Pantone says, “a dazzling attention-getter” possibly hurling the artist into the glare of a radiant spotlight. Soon everything will be coming up orchids. Isn’t that “everything’s coming up roses?” Not this year, it isn’t. This year, it’s coming up orchids, at least the radiant ones.

For more on the Color of the Year 2014 click on the link to Pantone:

http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/pantone.aspx?pg=21128&ca=10

Weekend Inspiration–Colorful Imagination

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Click the link and use your mouse to imagine your own color show.  Warning: its mesmerizing but incredibly fun!

http://neave.com/imagination/

The more you move the mouse, the more color you create!

Colorful Fridays–Impressions of Heavenly Blue

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“Let the blue sky meet the blue sea and all is blue for a time.” Moncy Barbour (from The Painter’s Keys)

How can a blue go from the color of heaven to the definition of depression? Cerulean Blue has an array of descriptions that run the gamut from peace and harmony to gloomy moodiness. Pantone.com claims Cerulean as the color of the millennial year because it is very calming. The Urban Dictionary implies Cerulean Blue is the color of depression and cites this sentence as an example: “Why do you look so cerulean, man?” Does that mean he’s looking heavenly, moody or calm? Sounds pretty sad, in any case.

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 7.16.44 PMThough the discovery of Cerulean blue dates to around 1805 in Germany, it didn’t gain wide popularity until the 1860’s. Several sources attribute the name “Cerulean” to the Latin word for “sky” or “heaven.” Winsor Newton calls Cerulean a “pure blue pigment” that is opaque and says today’s Cerulean is “an inorganic synthetic mineral pigment made by calcination of tin salts and silica with cobalt sulphate.” Thick applications of Cerulean to the sky in the landscapes of the Impressionists led to its popularity today. However, Cerulean’s opaque-ness does not lend itself well to the transparency of watercolor.

Metaphysical people claim Cerulean is the color of peace, harmony and all things Zen. Yet the serial killer, Pusher, from the X-Files uses the line, “Cerulean is the color of the gentle breeze,” as he deceives the police into driving into the deadly path of a large Cerulean Blue truck. Pantone claims Cerulean is calming. The Urban dictionary implies Cerulean is the color of depression, even profound depression as in “you’re not just blue, you’re Cerulean.” Perhaps Cerulean will leave you harmoniously depressed. Or you could be a calmly moody millennial. We won’t even consider it in the case of the serial killer. But whatever your situation, you can be sure with Cerulean Blue, your skies will always be heavenly.

A description of Pusher, the X-files serial killer is here.

This following clip has a wonderfully confusing description of Cerulean Blue from the world of high fashion:

Cerulean Blue from The Devil Wears Prada

Colorful Fridays–Red-less Monkey Yellow

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“Happiness is Gamboge, ennui is grey…” Jonathan Meades (The Times of London by Wordsmith.org)

The most beautiful warm glowing yellows in paintings are often the result of the liberal use of the orangey yellow Gamboge.  So warm and glowing is this color that it is said to be used to dye the robes of certain Buddhist monks giving the robes a rich saffron color. Gamboge is the color of the ripe wheat fields in Flemish artist, Pieter Bruegel, The Elder”s 16th Century painting of peasants at the harvest.  Gamboge is the sun on a bright afternoon in late September.

Gamboge was originally derived from the resin of the Garcinia tree growing in Cambodia, Thailand and other Asian countries of the region.  The resin is collected in bamboo shoots until dried when the bamboo is then cut away. The resin of the Garcinia tree is considered a controlled poison in some countries due to the cathartic (according to Britannica,”drastic catharic”) properties of the fruit. However it is frequently found in small amounts in some herbal products used for weight loss and other physical issues.  It is relatively harmless in small amounts.Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 9.34.50 AM

Modern Gamboge paint is no longer made with the resin of the Garcinia tree.  Original Gamboge has a very poor lightfastness.  Daniel Smith’s New Gamboge claims an excellent light fastness, “more staining than Yellow Ochre and equal in tinting ability to Raw Sienna.”  New Gamboge lacks the fugitive properties of the original. Beautiful, glowing warm yellows can be “poured” over any paintings with no worries of fading.

RadioLab.org has a podcast titled “The Perfect Yellow” that tells the story of the origins of Gamboge along with some other interesting tales of the use of this versatile yellow. RadioLabs website discusses the use of Gamboge and other colors in experiments for teaching monkeys to recognize red.  One wonders why on earth we would want to teach monkeys to see red?  It’s bad enough when people see red.  Just image being overrun by rampaging monkeys seeing red!  And what if the monkeys start eating the Gamboge resin?  What a mess we will be in then!  Perhaps it is better to keep the Gamboge for paintings and leave the monkeys to their red-less vision.

Gamboge is the yellow of warmth and happiness in many paintings.  Its addition will add a beautiful golden glowing tint to many colors.  Today’s Gamboge is free from the potentially harmful side effects of the past.  Though today’s mixes lack the poisonous resin of the Garcinia tree, you probably wouldn’t want to eat it and please keep it away from all monkeys.  Otherwise you will be able to experience the “happiness of Gamboge” in any painting.

Some quotes from others about Gamboge:

Mcspiky says, “I would describe this colour as a form of mustard with little bit more zest and vibrancy to it (trying not to be pretentious here).”

http://mcspiky.blogspot.com/2012/08/gamboge.html

 Ferrebeekeeper says, “Here is a gorgeous warm color for Thanksgiving week.”

http://ferrebeekeeper.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/gamboge/

You can order your own Gamboge pigment for mixing at:

Kremer Pigmente

Cornelissen.com

 For more on Pieter Bruegel, The Elder:

 

 

 

Colorful Fridays–Incredible Inedible Yellow Reds

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There is no blue without yellow and orange.”  Vincent Van Gogh (from Brainyquote)

Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters preferred heavy applications of opaque paints.  Among the favored paints of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were the cadmium family of yellows, reds and oranges.  The cadmiums make rich, strong dominant colors in any painting.  Fears of toxicity with the cadmiums have limited their use for many artists.  However, some minor precautions will prevent the harmful effects of the cadmiums allowing artists to make use of these paints without concern.

The cadmiums are toxic only if you eat them or inhale them.  Chances of toxicity through the skin are limited but you probably wouldn’t want to paint yourself with them either.  One source says a potential point of toxicity is smoking with cadmium paint on your fingers.  The paint absorbs into the cigarette facilitating inhaling the paint into the lungs where it becomes carcinogenic.  Best not smoke and paint at the same time.  (Well, best not smoke at all but who’s lecturing!)  If mixing dry paint pigments, wear an appropriate mask.  If you are concerned with the toxicity, paint with colors labeled “hue” as in cadmium yellow hue.  These are entirely free of the cadmium toxins.  Listed below are links to safety sites with more information.

Taking proper precautions with the cadmiums will enable their use in myriad ways.  Gary Bolyer on his website lists two important points to success with the cadmiums.  First use only Cadmium Yellow Light and Cadmium Red Light.  Secondly, refrain from mixing the cadmiums with white.  Mixing with white will result in chalky, diluted colors.  (Follow the link to Boyler’s site for more success with the cadmiums).  Gamblin says cadmium yellow was preferred by Claude Monet because of its higher chroma and its greater purity of color.  There is more at Gamblin’s site, as well.

Rumor has it that Vincent Van Gogh’s problems were the result of the use of the cadmiums.  According to the rumor, Vincent had a habit of holding his cadmium paint saturated brushes in his mouth.  So if you don’t want to go off the deep end and cut your ear off, keep the cadmiums out of your mouth.  Don’t smoke them either.  Otherwise, you can enjoy the regular use of these beautifully rich opaque reds, yellows and oranges profusely in all your paintings.

Safety links:

Princeton Artists Safety

OSHA

Draw Mix Paint Forum

Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Les Alyscamps” with lots of yellows, reds and oranges!

Colorful Fridays—The Rosy Red Siblings

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“Red is obviously such a stimulating color, it has so many connotations.” P.J. Harvey

Quinacridone Red and its Quin siblings, Rose and Magenta, cannot call up an intriguing history. No ancient minerals or archaic farming practices discovered these beautiful bluish reds. No Old Masters can be credited with having discovered this gloriously rich red family. All the credit goes to a wonderful unknown modern-day scientist who mixed some organic chemicals up in a lab and came out with these lovely, fully transparent, lightfast, nontoxic reds. Many a twentieth century botanical artist would like to pay homage to this brilliant chemist.

The “quins” are the colors of romance. Though rather strong, they are still the reds of orchids and carnations. The “quins” are the pinks of rose petals. They are the sunlight through a stained glass window. All of this romantic pinky, lavender, rosy color surely must come from the ground up petals of wildflowers gathered at midnight on a full moon. Wrong! They come from a boring test tube in a sterile lab located in the windowless basement of a huge chemical compound. (Actually, we don’t know where they are made today, but the windowless basement sounded pretty good).

Layering transparent glazes with the “quins,” according to Chris Cozen on his blog, “tend not to turn muddy or grey.” The Daniel Smith website states Naples Yellow can be added to Quinacridone Red to create nice peachy shades. Williamsburg Oils says Quinacridone Red can be used to make the “cleanest pinks, flesh tones and violets.” And who would want muddy pinks?? Okay, sometimes a muddy pink is needed in a painting for delicate shadows. In that case, go with the Cadmiums.

Daniel Smith demonstrates a wash with Quinacridone Red: