Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stapleton Kearns landscape palette

starting from the top going across to the right:
Titanium white (Lefranc & Bourgeois--all others RGH)
cadmium yellow light
cadmium yellow medium
cadmium red light
burnt sienna
cobalt violet
Prussian blue

and on the left descending;
Golden, or yellow ochre
ultramarine blue
Viridian, or sometimes pthalo green
Quinacridone red
Ivory black

Titanium white, the standard artists white these days, opaque and nonpoisonous, that white stuff on your lifeguards nose is titanium. Lefranc and Bourgeois makes a really nice titanium that's very reasonably priced. Some artists like zinc white because it's more transparent and they feel it doesn't overwhelm their colors making them chalky. Some brands of paint are a mixture of titanium and zinc and try to get the best qualities of both. Lead white is somewhat transparent as well, it dries more quickly than the others and handles better than the others. It gives a nice surface and is the white in all the old paintings in the museum. It is poisonous and is becoming harder to find.

Cadmium yellow light, or pale. Never buy a tube that says hue on it! A hue is some unknown pigments mixed up to look like the color you actually want. If you want azo yellow (or French's mustard) buy tubes labeled that way. Manufacturers sell these to students and hobbyists who don't know the difference. They won't handle reliably in your mixtures and lack pigmenting strength. Student grades of paint often are hues. Painting well is hard enough to do with the best of materials.

Cadmium yellow medium, more orange and warmer than the cadmium yellow light. I can live without this by feeding a little cadmium red light into my cadmium yellow light, but it is convenient having it and it helps me to get greater variety when mixing greens. There is a lot of variation between makers and some makers' cadmium yellow medium may be the same color as another makers' cadmium yellow deep.

Cadmium red light, this is an expensive pigment, but a tube will last you a long time. All the cadmiums are poisonous . Don't eat or smoke while they are on your hands. Never put these in a spray gun, and I would recommend you never work with this pigment in a powdered form (such as grinding your own paint, let the pros do that). Used responsibly they are safe. Most of the things in an artists' studio are poisonous to one degree or another. I was taught to paint with real vermilion in this slot on the palette, that is mercuric sulphide and is really, really poisonous and nearly impossible to get these days however it was a lovely color. When you see the blush in the cheek of a woman painted by John Sargent, that's vermilion. Often your red is going to be used to "step on " ie. modify another color slightly and vermilion did that nicely. There are some nice proprietary reds that are possibles in this spot on the palette. Sennelier red is a nice one. Rembrandt also makes a nice red in this range. I don't see a good replacement for the cadmium yellows but you may decide to choose a substitute for cadmium red light. The important thing is that this is a warm red, you will have a cool red on the other side of the palette.

Burnt sienna, is an absolutely wonderful color! It is inexpensive. Earth colors are (or rather were) colored dirt dug up in various places in Italy, and are mostly forms of iron oxide. They are made in the lab today and are, I think, far better than the real earth pigments. These are reliable, permanent and well behaved colors.They dry relatively quickly. I like to sketch paintings in with burnt sienna. Some artists who choose to use limited palettes and work on a chromatic palette don't use earth colors. Some of the western painters have popularized this approach lately. I will talk about limited palettes in another post. Oddly enough the old masters had just the opposite sort of palette and worked with three color earth palettes. There's a lot of different ways to skin the same cat, each has its limitations and advantages. My palette has both an earth color palette and a chromatic palette within it. Winsor and Newton makes a nice burnt sienna. Since burnt sienna is a relatively inexpensive color buy a good one.

Cobalt violet, an extremely expensive color. I love it, but I can't say you really need to have it. Its got a lovely sort of glow that no other violet has. Dioxizine has far more tinting strength. I feel dioxizine has too much in fact, and will actually stain the hairs in your brushes. Most of the proprietary violets on the market are dioxizine, often toned down to make them more manageable. You can mix your violets over on the other side of the palette with ultramarine and quinacridone or alizirin. Gamblin makes a less expensive cobalt violet and it is fine.

Prussian blue
, This blue leans slightly towards green. It is not a real popular color these days having been largely replaced with thalo blue. I use Prussian because it is more manageable, thalo blue being so much more powerful than the other pigments on your palette that it can be over assertive in mixtures. Many fine painters have relied on it though. Emile Gruppe used it extensively as the blue in his chromatic palette. Most of the proprietary blues labeled with the makers name are thalo.
Neither of these colors is particularly expensive so you may want to try a small tube of both. Like cobalt violet you may decide you don't need this color either.

Gold ochre, another earth color, this is a slightly more yellow version of yellow ochre. You probably want yellow ochre here. but you might check out the golden version, Some companies make a yellow ocher light and deep as well. Raw sienna and mars yellow both fit into this slot on the palette. Like other earth colors this is a dependable workhorse of a color and I could mix nearly the same hue from chromatic colors but its nice to have it there and ready to use, and there is a nice sort of "acoustic" look to the earth colors. I once bought a tube of Sennelier yellow ochre and it was dirty and weak. I realized that I was so used to our modern lab made versions of this color I was unaware of what the real earth color of the old masters was like. Rembrandt would be very impressed with my palette, I am not so sure he would be that impressed with my paintings though.

Ultramarine blue. I use a lot of this, after white its the color of which I use the most. Sometimes I take it off my palette just for disciplines sake. It is a slightly reddish blue. My palette has a warm and a cool version of each hue. Ultramarine is my warm blue, Prussian is my cool blue. I prefer the ultramarine deep or the French ultramarine when a manufacturer gives me a choice. Good ultramarine has clarity, cheap ultramarine is dirty. Quality ultramarine is like butter and cheap ultramarine is slimy.

Viridian green is a lovely bluish green that has become very expensive in the last few years. Its quality has also dropped, it seems to me that it goes gritty on the palette much more quickly than it used to or should. RGH makes one and though they aren't giving it away it is still affordable. Viridian mixed with a lot of white is good in skies and a tolerable replacement for cerulean blue which has also become very expensive. Lately I have been experimenting with Thalo green deep, I am not sure if I can live with it as an inexpensive substitute for viridian or not. It is of course much more powerful.

Quinacridone red, I was taught to paint with alizirin crimson and in those days it was a standard artists pigment. It had many faults, it had a bloody, blacky sort of a color and was impermanent and handled poorly. Some years ago manufacturers began selling Permanent Alizirin which was of course not alizirin at all. It is usually quinacridone. The ideal color for this slot is probably genuine rose madder. That is a wonderful color, rather than being bloody like alizirin, it has an organic roseate hue that is warm, clear and lovely like roses themselves. When I was on a three color palette this was my red. It is about 35 dollars for a 37 ml. tube. This is, in my estimation, the best argument for being rich. Sometime when you feel flush, treat yourself to a tube of Winsor and Newtons' genuine rose madder, it is like a good box pressed maduro from the Dominican Republic, one of life's' finest experiences. I should mention I suppose that it is not entirely permanant.
Quinacridone isn't cheap either but it is roseate in hue, permanent and dependable. If you buy a tube of permanent rose this is what you will get. It wont stomp on your mixtures like some of the other cool red pigments, delicacy is the" pearl of great price" in the cool reds.

Lastly, Ivory black.. A lot of outdoor painters eschew the use of black and there's a good reason for that. In the hands of tyros (now there's an antique word) it brings on disaster. It is not to be used to make the shadow note by adding it to the color of an object in the light. THE SHADOW IS A SEPARATE COLOR FROM THE LIGHT, AND NOT THE COLOR OF THE LIGHT PLUS BLACK! It is virtually always better to add the compliment of a color to any note to reduce it. Black is only useful when perceived as a color of its own. Sometimes painters talk about painting clean, for them black is an anathema. Another philosophy thinks of putting the right color of mud in the right place. I fall into the latter camp. If a color is too red I add green, if it's to yellow I add purple, etc. That's sort of like the difference between playing a fretted instrument and playing a violin (which has no frets) I play across the colors rather than clearly hitting only the separate notes in each octave. See what I mean? Now I have to write a post on compound color vs. simple color. I will label that post inominate color. I sometimes do small black and white studies for larger paintings.


pornstar pink

I was asked about the pink I was using. Since I tube my own colors, I can tube mixtures. My pink is my own homemade version of a color available from Williamsburg paints that they call Persian Rose. Persian Rose is a quinacridone rose (PV19; WN Permanent Rose) and white mixture (zinc) heated up with a shot of diperrolpyrroll orange (PO73; Winsor Orange). That gives it a hot undertone. It is the antidote for green though.
I call the version that I make Pornstar Pink. When you look at it on the palette it looks fluorescent. You would wonder what on earth I would do with a strong pink like that. Its enough to make a feather boa blush. Several of my artists friends are using my pink and when I make it now, I have to make about a quart. I can't easily describe to you how I make my version so I suggest you acquire a tube of the Persian Rose which is similar.
I manipulate my greens a lot, desaturating them, pushing them in different directions to get variety and installing warm notes. I push a lot of reds into my greens. In the summer everything is either yellow or blue or a combination of the two (green) so I smuggle red, I wrote a post about that here.
A thing to watch out for and avoid is chartreuse, in the summer it is easy to fill paintings with poisonous yellow greens and some painters have done that, their paintings get poisonous. A great variety of greens and a careful control of the yellower and cooler greens will usually result in better landscapes. Here comes my old joke again but I do mean something by it. "I want to make paintings the color of 500 dollar suits. What I mean by that is there are loud greens in nature that would never make it onto the racks at Brooks Brothers ( a local retailer known for their restrained taste and high quality). You may want to use those hues, but do it sparingly, if you do use an acidic color, make it an accent, allot to it the area you would a tie.

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