Colorful Fridays–“Green” Rose Brown

“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” Sir Frances Bacon (from the Painter’s Keys)Screen shot 2013-10-25 at 10.50.11 AM

Mix cinnamon, ginger and chocolate and you will come up with a color very close to Burnt Sienna, (not to be confused with the rock band, Burnt Sienna).  However, you may not want to paint with this mixture.  For paint, you will need iron oxide and manganese oxide.  Then you will have to set it on fire, unless or course, you are looking for the more yellowish Raw Sienna.  In that case, leave off the fire.

Burnt Sienna is an old paint color dating to early cave paintings..   The rose brown of Burnt Sienna was originally called terra rossa or red earth in accounts from the Renaissance period but later came to be known for the Italian city of Siena where the minerals were first mined.  Today it is mined on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, in the French Ardennes and American Appalachians.

Rembrandt favored Burnt Sienna as is evident in the warm rosy glow so characteristic of his paintings.  Burnt Sienna is favored in most Renaissance paintings as well.  Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro was likely achieved with the liberal use of Burnt Sienna in the rich deep shadows that became his signature style.  Burnt Sienna was a popular paint of many of the old masters and continues its popularity to this day.

Most makers of Burnt Sienna today give a light fast rating of one as extremely light fast.  Golden classifies it as semi-transparent.  The Gamblin Company states today’s Burnt Sienna is more opaque than 200 years ago and recommends Van Dyke Brown or Gamblin Earth Tone Colors as better choices if seeking greater transparency.  Daniel Smith, speaking of the watercolor, says Burnt Sienna combines well in glazes as a semi-transparent pigment that won’t “sully or stain the other pigments” in your glaze.

Artists seeking to become more earth-friendly in painting can buy natural pigments of Burnt Sienna for home mixing from EarthPigments.com.  If you would like to be more “Green” with your browns, try mixing your own earth tones from actual earth pigments.  What could be more natural?

Order natural pigments from Earth Pigments here.

Burnt Sienna, the band, talks about their music on You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulMrP5tyn30

Colorful Fridays-The Queen’s Red

“I love red so much, I almost want to paint everything red.”–Alexander Calder (from Color Research)Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 10.59.01 AM

Did Lewis Carroll base the character, the Red Queen, of Through Looking Glass, on the War of the Roses or on Queen Victoria?  There is much speculation but the monarch was apparently an amateur painter with a preference for alizarin crimson.  However, many artists, like the former Queen, love this juicy color.  Botanical artists once frequently used this deep rich red. But artist beware. With alizarin crimson, it pays to read the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Alizarin crimson was introduced in 1868 by German chemists, Graebe and Lieberman.  Handprint.com states alizarin goes on strong and dark but dries to a much lighter maroon.  Both Handprint.com and GurneyJourney.blogspot.com give alizarin crimson very poor ratings for light-fastness.  James Gurney states alizarin will fade out of the painting considerably over time. PR83 is the chemical name of this rapidly fading alizarin crimson.

Gamblin paints has solved the fading problem of alizarin crimson by creating a lightfast substitute, slightly less intense, called Alizarin Permanent.  And another choice for artists from Gamblin is the warmer but equally transparent Perylene Red.  A little experimentation might make either of these reds a successful alternative.

Golden Paints has, also, come up with a solution to the lack of light-fastness in alizarin crimson by blending the quinacridone reds with Phthalo Blue-green shade to come up with Alizarin Crimson Hue.   Golden gives Alizarin Crimson Hue a light-fastness rating of I, the best rating, another good substitute.

Brainpickings and Making a Mark are two blogs with a series of Queen Victoria’s watercolor sketches.  The Independent has a story on the recent unveiling of the exhibit of Queen Victoria’s watercolors, along with other royals artwork, at Windsor Castle this year.   She painted quite a few landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and a number of sketches of her children.  Enjoy the Queen’s paintings but maybe not her color preferences!

Colorful Fridays–Shady Green

“Like emotions, colours are a reflection of life.” – Janice Glennaway (from Irene Osborne)Screen shot 2013-10-11 at 11.00.35 AM

Most greens fall into the yellow spectrum following the colors of leaves, grass and other growing things of the natural world.  These greens usually produce a nice mud color if mixed with red.  The discovery of Viridian green changed that, creating a clear bluish green perfect for cooler uses and making a better glazing green.  Mixed with alizarin crimson, viridian makes a beautiful grey, similar to Payne’s grey.  Viridian next to red creates an energetic drama.

In the early nineteenth century, painters began looking for a less toxic green than the highly toxic emerald green.  Painting Through the Ages states that viridian is Chromium oxide Dihydrate and was first patented in 1859 by Guignet of Paris.  It quickly became a widely used color.  So popular now it is even seen in the paint of cars as in the new Chevy Volt.  For artists, viridian’s uses vary according to artist but remains very popular and a “must have” right next to alizarin crimson.

Golden Paints says viridian green has excellent permanency.  And Gamblin says viridian is very good as a tint.  Paintmaking.com and others state viridian is excellent for oil painters but not the best green for water-based media.  Its transparent qualities and tinting ability do not hold up as well in acrylics, watercolor or gouache.

The writer of the website Paintmaking advises to pay attention to the quality of viridian as some manufacturers may not fully purify the pigment leaving problematic traces of borate and chromate.  In the case of Viridian, apparently, you will get what you pay for so test the different brands.  The quality is worth the price.

For oil painters, viridian makes a beautiful cool green for shade, water and other areas the yellowish greens would tend to heat up.  Few artists use it straight, usually diluting it with titanium white, ultramarine or alizarin.  Straight or mixed, viridian will grab attention, even in the shade.

For the daring, here is a guide to mixing your own viridian from Painting Through the Ages.

A color guide of the many beautiful mixes that can be made with viridian is demonstrated by Colorbay.com.

Wetcanvas.com has an excellent discussion (here) posted of artists explaining their uses of viridian green. Very informative!

Happy shady painting!

Colorful Fridays–Sunset Yellow

It has the quality of appearing to recede into the picture’s distant plain (sic) (un)like other yellows that sit in front of the plain(sic).”– Pigments Through The Ages

ImageAll of the Naples colors are favorites of mine but especially Naples Yellow.  I just love it.   It squishes so nicely.  Naples Yellow mixes well with just about all the colors of a sunset, even purple.  Naples Yellow is one of those colors I will drive miles to get if running low.  Could there be anything worse than being forced to paint without Naples Yellow?

Apparently, Naples Yellow has been around for quite some time.  It has been found in ceramic glazes of pottery found in ancient Babylon from 1500 B.C.  Most of the Old Master’s worked with Naples Yellow.  The websites of Winsor Newton, Gamblin and Golden all state it was originally made from lead antimoniate but all three makers use various synthetic chemicals to simulate the original color today.  Winsor Newton’s website says” Its name probably comes from its presence as a natural deposit that could be found in the volcanic earth of Mount Vesuvius, a volcano on the bay of Naples.”

Naples Yellow is so popular it has its own Facebook page!  Who knew??  I guess lots of artists would drive miles to get Naples Yellow.