Oranges and reds
For this blog I have decided to discuss how a pigment with a bias affects the mix using orange and red as an example. There are many different tones of red and orange from the bright and vivid to the muted and dark. Colours can range from a pale apricot to the bright orange in a Gerbera and with reds, from a deep dark red Dahlia to a bright red field poppy and the orange-red of a slightly unripe tomato. So, let’s start with orange and find out how we can select the right reds and yellows for the job in hand.
Mixing your own orange tones is more accurate than buying a ready-made orange pigments. There are many ready-made oranges but you will most likely find that they are opaque. Cadmium pigments are always opaque and Winsor Orange is also semi-opaque. Daniel Smith have a very good selection of reds and oranges which are mostly semi-transparent and transparent. There is a relatively new orange in the Winsor & Newton professional watercolour range called Transparent Orange. This is totally transparent and has a beautifully bright orange/red hue. However, it may not be quite the tone of orange you are looking when painting a marigold for instance, but adding a little Transparent or Indian yellow will adjust it, simples! Opaque pigments are not good for layering watercolour when painting as you will not achieve as much depth or translucency.
The image below shows the pigments used for this experiment. They are all Winsor & Newton professional watercolour pigments. Four reds: Permanent Rose (PR), Quinacridone Red (QR), Scarlet Lake (SL) and Winsor Red (WR). Three yellows: Winsor Lemon (WL), Transparent Yellow (TY) and Indian Yellow (IY). They are all transparent or semi-transparent pigments. They all have different qualities of their own. PR is a violet bias magenta red pretending to be pink, QR is a saturated and very appealing red (close to the primary), SL is a lovely warm orange biased red and WR is a richer saturated primary red with a slightly darker value. WL is a very cool green biased yellow, TY is a slightly orange biased yellow and Indian yellow is a very orange biased rich yellow. Let’s see how these colours mix together and what the results are like. You could add many more reds to this experiment such as Permanent Carmine, Perylene Maroon, Quinacridone Magenta and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. If you try mixing all these variations too you will discover a million different tones of red and orange!
The chart below shows a mix of oranges with different amounts of yellow added to each red. Three variations of each. The violet bias of the PR makes makes the mix look more muted, especially in the TY column. These mixes are not as vivid as the other orange mixes, although the PR orange is a little brighter with IY added. My favourite bright orange mix is QR or SL and IY. However, oranges come in many guises and you would need to match your subject by testing your yellow and red mixes first. Test yourself for a true colour match as the photos here are not totally accurate.
The red chart below also shows the differences in orange tones across four yellows. This time I have introduced Quinacridone Gold (QG). QG is a gorgeous colour but a very muting yellow. It is probably easier to see the difference on this chart as the first mix in each column is a red mix with a little yellow added to make orange. Again, there are subtle differences to intensity of colour depending which red and yellow are used. The QG column is quite muted. The TY column is slightly muted. The PR and WR rows are also muted in places. Brightness is appearing more in the first three yellow columns of the SL and QR rows. The differences happen partly due to the colour index numbers within each pigment which I have described for you below. Again, test yourself for a true colour match as the photos here are not totally accurate.
Winsor Lemon – PY175 – A lighter yellow with a green bias, this will generally brighten.
I personally prefer Sennelier Lemon Yellow (PY3) as it is totally transparent whereas WL is semi-transparent. It has a very light value and is a good primary yellow. Daniel Smith Lemon Yellow (PY175) is similar.
Transparent Yellow – PY150 – An intense very slightly orange biased middle tone yellow, very slightly muting.
Indian Yellow – PY139, PO62 – A warm orange biased yellow, a beautifully rich colour! Great for orange mixes but it will dull green mixes to olive/earthy green tones due to the orange pigment content.
Quinacridone Gold – PY150 slightly orange biased yellow, PV19 violet biased red, PR206 brown biased red. This colour has three colour index numbers. The violet bias and brown bias are the muting elements.
Permanent Rose – PV19 – A violet bias magenta/red. A cooler red but with a warm pink undertone.
Quinacridone Red – PR209 – A saturated red with a little warmth. It is a less intense, softer red.
Scarlet Lake – PR188 – An intense orange biased red. Mix it with a cool green bias blue though and you’ll get a muddy mess!
Winsor Red – PR254 – A deeper value saturated and intense red. It will mute because of it’s deeper tone.
Transparent Orange – DPP (Diketo-Pyrrolo-Pyrrol) – a lovely rich orange/red pigment.
I hope this blog was useful and wish you all a very merry Christmas!
Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists
A practical guide to accurate watercolour mixing with primaries for botanical artists
Colour mixing is a key skill for the botanical artist. In this practical guide, Jackie Isard explains how to observe and use colour accurately. She shows artists how to make informed choices when selecting pigments, as well as how to learn about colour mixing and its application.
• Gives detailed instruction and advice on understanding colour and pigments
• Explains how to ‘see’ colour and tricky mixes, from greens and reds to the difficult botanical greys
• Includes advanced colour application techniques – colour enhancement, shadow colours and colour temperature transition
• Step-by-step guides illustrate how to paint with layers, how to use underlaying colours to enhance, and colour and fine detailing
Order online via major book shops or Amazon. Published by The Crowood Press Ltd
More information on how to buy is on my website www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, preorder for the USA and Canada are online. Launch in the states is October 2021. E-books are available worldwide.
Online courses for botanical artists:
• Mixing Watercolour Accurately for Botanical
• Fine Details and Finishing Techniques
For more information and course outlines see my website at:
NEW MINI-BOOK for beginner botanical artists.
Order from me direct via email or visit my Etsy shop, link below.
The Little Book of Watercolour
for Beginner Botanical Artists
A very useful little guide for beginner botanical artists wishing to learn how to use watercolour and their painting materials.
• Water and pigment balance
• Brush types and uses
• Using a palette
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This self published mini-book. 148mm x 148mm
Available to purchase via me personally, email firstname.lastname@example.org
More little mini-books which will be added to this series
All these books will be aimed at the beginner botanical artist. Subjects will include: What is Botanical art, Easy to understand botany, Measuring and accurate drawing – tips, Painting techniques and application, Colour values in painting, Botany and the botanical artist, Developing a composition – tools and tips, Framing and exhibiting – tips.