Blog 25 : Colour matters

Colours with the same name – don’t be fooled!

A little bit of advice today. Never rely on one manufacturers pigment being exactly the same as another brand, even if it has the same name.

Quinacridone Gold is one example of this anomaly. Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Gold is made with index numbers PY150, PR206 and PV19 but the Sennelier version uses PY150, PR206 and PR101 and Daniel Smith, to further confuse, is made with PY150 and PO48. All three brands will look different when painted due to this.

Quin Golds by Sennelier, Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith

All brands have the bright PY150  yellow pigment. This is the same pigment used in Transparent Yellow. The Winsor & Newton version is definitely a more muted colour than the Sennelier version and the Daniel Smith one is quite different again. 

Let’s look at the colour index numbers first. These are the index numbers for all three brands. Winsor & Newton: PY150 is a bright yellow, PV19 is a cool magenta, PR206 is a red/brown. Sennelier: PY150 and PR101 a reddish terracotta, a little like Burnt Sienna. Daniel Smith: PY150 and PO48 a burnt orange. 

Here is an analogy of the index numbers within these three pigments.

Winsor & Newton: PY150 (yellow) + PR206 (red/brown) + PV19 (cool magenta like Permanent Rose and Permanent Magenta) – the spike of magenta makes this version more muted because PV19 is cool and very near to the violet/blue spectrum. When red/brown, yellow and the violet biased magenta are mixed we get a golden beige/brown. The magenta makes this mix a more muted gold with a slight brown bias.

Sennelier: PY150 (yellow) + PR206 (red/brown) + PR101 (terracotta/burnt sienna) – the warmth of this mix is due to red index colours being of the same warmth and bias. It is only slightly muted and more golden than the Winsor & Newton version as there is no violet or cool bias.

Daniel Smith: This version of Quinacridone Gold is made with PO48 and PY150. PO48 is a burnt orange tone. This is a warm and brighter version due to no violet or red/brown influence. 

Quinacridone Gold is a colour which sings out in this autumn subjects like this magnolia leaf below!

So when you are selecting new pigments, always check the index numbers. Single index numbers are best for mixing but occasionally you will find a colour with two or even three, like Quinacridone Gold. When mixing with pigments of more than one index number, be aware not to add too many other pigments to it. A maximum of three index numbers mixed together are best for vibrance. Quinacridone Gold is already a muted colour by having three index numbers, so adding more index numbers to it will just mute it even further to brown.

For everything you need to know about colour mixing theory and application techniques see my book below which will be available to purchase next year in March 2021.

Until then, happy painting!


Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists

Published by The Crowood Press

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 book shops or Amazon. I will announce it’s arrival on Facebook or via email if you have joined my website mail-list www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, preorders will be available online soon. E-books will also be available.


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:
www.jibotanicals.co.uk


NEW MINI-BOOK for beginner botanical artists being launched soon. Order from me direct when it is announced on Facebook or via email if you have joined my website mail-list www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, no preorders are being taken at present.

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
• Exercises to improve brush skills 
• Useful painting techniques

This self published mini-book will be available to purchase at the beginning of December 2020. I will be announcing it on Facebook and via my website mail list when it is ready www.jibotanicals.co.uk. Please note, no preorders are being taken at present.

Blog 24 : Colour matters

An exercise in pink

I painted this Greater Knapweed flower head a couple of years ago and it truly was an exercise in pink even though the flower is purple. I cut it in half because I wanted to show the inner parts as well as the flower head. It also gave me the opportunity to use a technique called ‘painting in the negative’ in the area where the seeds are produced. I found this so intricate and interesting. The flower colour, in real life, is a bright purple/pink. Lighter areas are more pink in tone and darker areas more violet/purple. The whole inflorescence is exquisitely designed and beautiful to study up close. I just loved ensuring the colour mix was just right and painting in all those lovely fine details!

I have written the colour mixes next to the painting image below and highlighted where they were used. There is no sign of Opera Rose! Quinacridone Magenta was used to make the really bright pink and some Winsor Blue Red Shade added to make the purple tones. You’ll achieve a brighter effect by making sure the highlights are very light and by using good quality white hot pressed watercolour paper. So no need to go for Opera Rose which we know fades over time. Here’s the pigment list:

Transparent Yellow – TY
Quinacridone Gold – QG
Winsor Blue (Red Shade) – WBRS
Indanthrene Blue – IB
Cobalt Blue – COB
Quinacridone Magenta – QM
Permanent Rose – PR
Burnt Sienna – BS
Perylene Violet  – PV
Winsor Violet – WV

I added a thin glaze of Winsor Violet to some areas as a warm overlay towards the end of painting to enhance the violet/purple tones within the subject and occasionally a little thin cool pale blue glaze was added too. Generally, I would use French Ultramarine as a cool overlay. In areas where the pink tones appeared very slightly warmer a pale glaze of Permanent Rose was added. The creamy yellow mix for the bottom of each floret was made with Transparent Yellow and a tiny little bit of Permanent Rose. Some of this mix was also added to the central dissected area which also had many beautiful beige and golden tones.

Comparing pink pigments

Permanent Rose (PV19) is a slightly warmer pink with a violet bias whereas Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) is cooler and has a very strong violet bias. Sennelier Rose Madder Lake (PV19) has the same index number as Permanent Rose and they are indeed very similar. Although I definitely consider Sennelier Rose Madder Lake to be a tad warmer than Permanent Rose. Pinks come in many forms but all these pigments are definitely lightfast.

Many beautiful apricots and warm pink/orange tones can be made with these pigments. Quinacridone Magenta will make the mix more vibrant than Permanent Rose. Just add a warm or cool yellow like Transparent Yellow (cooler), New Gamboge (slightly warmer) or Indian Yellow (very warm). The warmer the yellow, the warmer the mix!

Opera Rose – a much loved colour

Opera Rose is loved by many but as we learned last month it is rated as fugitive. Fading would be much more obvious with certain brands. Winsor and Newton Opera Rose and Daniel Smith Opera Pink are the most reliable for this colour across brands. They will not fade as much as other brands but they will definitely both lose the added fluorescence. Both use colour index PR122. This is the same pigment colour index as Quinacridone Magenta. I personally favour Quinacridone Magenta as my brightest pink pigment purely because it doesn’t pretend to be more vibrant than it is! 

Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta test for lightfastness

I did a lightfast test for Winsor and Newton Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta over a two year period on my studio windowsill. This is quite a shaded room except for late afternoon sunshine. Testing will show more extreme results in direct sunlight. This is an example of what would happen in less intense sunlight conditions. The test was left on the windowsill from 2017 – 2019. It was hard to get an exact photo so you will just need to take my word for it! The Winsor and Newton Opera Rose (PR122) is still bright but all the fluorescent additive has disappeared making it look less vivid in colour. It now looks more like watered down Quinacridone Magenta. The Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) has not altered.

Making a swatch for testing

The swatch test in the previous image was made in a slightly different way to the example below. I painted fresh pigment onto another piece of paper in 2019 and compared it to the 2017 version. Here is another way to do it. Paint two swatches of the pigment in full colour and a weaker tint underneath on a piece of quality white watercolour paper. Cover one side with black paper. Tape this securely top and bottom so that light cannot get underneath it. Write the date onto the swatch. Leave on a very sunny winsdowsill for at least 3-6 months or longer. This is a good exercise for any colour pigments you are unsure of or that are classed as n.r (not rated).

Watch the Winsor and Newton video ‘Masterclass on Colour Permanence’ to see how a simulated 100 year lightfast test changes these fugitive colours; Rose Madder Genuine, Alizarin Crimson and Opera Rose. Here is the link: www.winsornewton.com/uk/masterclass/permanence-in-colour/

Until next month, happy painting!

Blog 22: Colour matters

Blue hues…

Welcome to the second ‘Colour matters’ blog, The topic this month is about my favourite Winsor and Newton blues and a select few that I use as an underlay colour. Laying down a pale blue underlay is a great way to cool a colour mix placed above and enhance strong highlights when added thinly along the edges of them. Just as yellow will warm from underneath and violet will darken shadows. You may have come across this method when painting richly coloured subjects like Holly and Conkers.

Let’s find out a bit more about the blues

Many blues are granulating and some are semi-opaque or opaque. It is useful to know what’s what! When painting in layers, transparent and semi-transparent pigments are best to achieve translucence and depth. Opaque pigments will make your work look dense on watercolour paper. The symbols on your tubes and pans will advise you of this. Those bearing the marks ‘A”, ‘AA’, ‘I’ and ‘II’ are ratings which are best for lightfastness and permanency. Transparency symbols look like this:
transparency symbols
Here I have split some of the W&N blues into categories. The permanency, lightfastness and transparency ratings are under each colour:

strongs new copy

Strongs – those which have greater intensity of pigment, you’ll need less when mixing!

granulators newGranulators – those which granulate, not good for smooth rendering! Some of them will granulate more than others. Cobalt Blue isn’t as grainy as French Ultramarine. However, Ultramarine Green Shade shows very little granulation, but it does have a very slight green bias compared to French Ultramarine. I like the intensity of this pigment compared to French Ultramarine though.

Cerulean is a particularly granulating pigment and semi-opaque. If used as an underlayer, you will not achieve a smooth see-through effect with it. It is good for textured style painting though. See the image below for a comparison. Hopefully you can see it as this was quite hard to photograph! The difference is more obvious in real life. Try it out and see for yourself.
new swatch copyAs seen above, a purple overlay was painted over base layers of Cerulean and Winsor Blue (Red Shade). The purple mix overlaid is a transparent mix. As you will see in the Cerulean example, it appears less crisp and quite mottled by the granulation. It also looks a little flatter where transparency is concerned. The Winsor Blue (Red Shade) underlay appears crisper and more see-through. So, if you are looking for a lighter blue underlay but with a slight yellow bias, just add a teensy bit of Winsor Lemon to Winsor Blue (Red Shade) and you will have a lovely smooth Cerulean look-alike!

green bias new

Green bias – those which will cool a mix or are more green in appearance. Further along the image above are the very green bias blues, turquoise. The greener a blue is, the more vivid it will be when mixing greens. It will need to be tamed by adding a tiny bit of red to make a more natural mix. Add Quinacridone Red (QR) to Phthalo Turquoise (PT) and you will make a muted purple/mauve/burgundy because of the green bias. Add QR to Ultramarine Green Shade (UGS), a less green biased blue, and you will make brighter purple and mauve. This is because the green bias adds more yellow to the mix muting it down. Yellow and blue make green (green/blue), plus red makes brown!

red biasRed bias – those which will add warmth a mix. Add Transparent Yellow to a red bias blue and you will make more natural greens. Add it to Winsor Blue (Green Shade), a green bias blue, and you will make vibrant but less natural emerald greens. Red will need to be added to tame these mixes.

Nearly greens
Nearly greens
– those which have a definite green bias. You will notice above that Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Turquoise Light are semi-opaque. They also granulate. I would only use these for textured, looser style painting.

nearly blacks
Nearly blacks
– those blues which are very dark pigments with a blue bias. Notice also that both Indigo and Payne’s Grey are opaque and semi-opaque. These pigments contain black which gives them their opacity. Both have the same colour index numbers – PB15 • PBk6 • PV19 but in different proportions. The black colour index will make a mix dense and flat looking. These pigments are only useful in extremely dark areas although darkening a mix is much better using transparent or semi-transparent primaries. If done this way, it will still have a see-through feel despite being almost black.

My underlay blue choices

My favourite blues for underlaying are Winsor Blue (Red Shade), French Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue. Winsor Blue (Red Shade) is particularly good when watered down as it is really smooth. It is a lovely bright red biased blue. Make sure you paint it on very pale though as it is one of the stronger pigments. It is also one of my favourite blues to mix with. French Ultramarine, although it granulates, when used very thinly it adds a nice coolness. It is a blue with little to no bias. It is great for edging highlights on dark coloured leaves like holly. Cobalt is a lighter blue which also granulates a little. Again, used thinly, it adds a nice coolness to the layers above.

Well that’s it for this month! If you like, please do message me with any suggestions of which colours you’d like to discuss next.

Until the 24th of next month, I hope you all have a great August. Maybe even have a break and be able to spend a few days away from home!

Happy colour mixing and painting!

Jackie Isard BA (Hons) SBA Fellow CBM ASBA

Blog 21: Colour matters

Colour matters – colour comparison tip

based on Winsor & Newton professional watercolours

From today, each month, I will be making a short blog about Winsor & Newton watercolour pigments and explain a few discoveries I have made along the way. Each blog will contain a range of interesting facts, tips and tricks. It will be a monthly post at about the same time each month, so look out for it around the 24th! Like my ‘Jackie Isard Botanicals’ Page to receive it on your Facebook timeline.
You will find my page on this link:

https://www.facebook.com/jackieisardbotanicalnaturepainting/

Alizarin Crimson versus Permanent Carmine…

Is Alizarin Crimson dulling your paintings? It looks really bright in the palette so why should this be? Don’t you wish it would stay bright?… well, unfortunately, that’s not possible as it will always dry a little duller than expected. This is because Alizarin Crimson (PR83) is a warm red with a slight maroon bias. It is also fugitive and will fade in sunlight. If you like to use Alizarin Crimson then make sure you buy the permanent version, Permanent Alizarin Crimson (PR206) for reliability.

Another question springs to mind. What’s the difference between Alizarin Crimson and Permanent Alizarin Crimson? There is very little difference in colour but Permanent Alizarin Crimson is very permanent, rated ‘A’ so shouldn’t fade. Alizarin Crimson is moderately permanent, rated ‘B’ and fugitive so it will fade badly. Alizarin Crimson is not good to use if you are exhibiting paintings where reliability and permanence are expected. An ‘A’ rating is always much better!

You could substitute this colour for Permanent Carmine (Quinacridone pyrrolidone) which is only a teensy, tiny bit cooler. Add a teensy, tiny bit of Transparent yellow to it and you’ll have a Permanent Alizarin Crimson match which stays bright. It will also give a slightly brighter colour mix when added to yellows and blues. Add French Ultramarine for a beautiful rich warm purple/mauve. Add Indian Yellow for really rich and vibrant orange and red mixes. Historically, Carmine was made from thousands of crushed kermes insects, ewwww… Thank goodness for Quinacridones!

Until next months, take care and keep safe!

Look out for my book ‘ Watercolour Mixing Techniques for Botanical Artists’ coming out later this year!