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 23: Colour matters

Fugitives

We have all heard that dreaded word at some point in our painting career. But what does it mean? How do I know if I’m using a fugitive colour?  It always seems to be the unanswered question!

What is a fugitive and why do they exist?

In history the standards set for pigments was not as important as it is to us now. As time went on pigment manufacturers experimented with different chemicals and natural substances to make even better and more reliable pigments.

During the impressionist period the demand was for bright and vivid colours. However, many of these bright pigments were still fugitive, unreliable and faded badly. The most unreliable were red lakes, madders, carmines, purples, red leads and chrome yellows. A great deal of historic paintings look very different today than when they were first painted because of this. The few more reliable pigments that were made were much more expensive and some famous artists just couldn’t afford them. It was the same for oil colours.

Vincent van Gogh favoured a vivid palette of colours and most of his paintings have faded. His ‘Sunflowers’ painting is a prime example of a fugitive yellow pigment, chrome yellow, which fades to brown in sunlight. Today the flowers look brown. You can see his paintings on this link: www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/vincent-van-gogh-sunflowers-best-photos-sunflower-close-up-vincent-van-gogh-paintings-wallpaper-image-sunflowers-1323376383
In Victorian times new chemistry developed synthetic prismatic and brighter colours but a lot of these were still fugitive. 

It wasn’t until 1984 that the standards became stricter with the introduction of testing. Nowadays, permanency and lightfast ratings are available for all pigments but there are still some to be aware of. Ratings for artists’ use are A, AA, I and II (companies who use asterisks or stars differ and are detailed in the company pigment lists further on). Anything less than this will not be as reliable for lightfastness. All this information can be found on watercolour company charts or online via their websites. See list of standards below:

I – Very lightfast
II – Good lightfast
III – Average lightfast

AA – Extremely permanent
A – Permanent
B – Moderately durable
C – Fugitive
V – well don’t go there!
n.r. – Not rated by ASTM

I, II ratings are given by the ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials). The society started testing pigments in 1984 to set standards for the performance of art materials, including lightfastness. Winsor & Newton use both ASTM and permanence ratings. In the ASTM system ‘I’ is the highest lightfastness available and ‘V’ is the lowest. Pigments that are not rated by ASTM or the companies who make them bear the symbol n.r.

A, AA – The Winsor & Newton permanence classifications measure not only lightfastness but also general stability of the pigment.

I have made a small A6 chart with all these rating symbols plus transparency symbols for you to download here. Watercolour rating symbols Keep it handy!

Which pigments should I be wary of?

W& N professional 
Alizarin Crimson (B) – as we learned last month Permanent Alizarin Crimson is good, this is lightfast A 
Rose Madder Genuine (B)
Opera Rose (B, really a C!)
Aureolin (II – PY40 this fades to brown despite being rated II)

Daniel Smith
Opera Pink (IV)
Alizarin Crimson (IV)
Aureolin (II – PY40 this fades to brown despite being rated II)

Sennelier
Helios Purple (III)
Dioxazine purple (III)
Quite a few Sennelier pigments are not rated. It’s best to test them yourself to be sure. 

Schmincke
Symbols vary for Schmincke colours, they are as follows:
***** extremely lightfast, **** good lightfastness, *** lightfast, ** limited lightfastness, * less lightfast, – not lightfast
Alizarin crimson (*)
Madder lake deep (**)
Rose Madder (**)
Schmincke violet (**)
Indigo (**)
Olive green (**)
These Brilliant pigments are not rated, would avoid:
Brilliant red violet
Brilliant opera rose
Brilliant purple
Brilliant red violet
Brilliant blue violet

Daler Rowney 
Symbols vary for Daler Rowney, they are as follows:
**** Permanent, *** Normally permanent, ** Moderately permanent,
* Fugitive
Aureolin (** PY40)
21 colours offer **** 
56 colours are rated ***

White Nights
Symbols vary for White Nights colours, they are as follows:
*** high lightfast, ** medium lightfastness, * low lightfast
Hanza yellow (*)
Orange lake (*)
Scarlet (*)
Claret (*)
Rose (*)
Vermillion (*)
Violet rose (*)
Violet (*)
Blue lake (*)

M. Graham
Alizarin crimson (III)

Below is a lightfastness test I did for Opera Rose and Quinacridone Magenta over a two year period (2017 left side and 2019 right side). The Opera Rose is still bright but all the florescent additive has disappeared making it look less intense in colour. The Quinacridone Magenta (PR122) has not altered. The Winsor and Newton (Opera Rose) and Daniel Smith (Opera Pink) versions of this vivid pink are the most reliable across brands using PR122. Both have added fluorescence.
test swatch
If painting for an exhibition where your work will be for sale, always use lightfast pigments. If you have to use a pigment which is less permanent then ensure you put a label on the back of your framed painting stating not to hang it in direct sunlight.

I recommend watching 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/

So, the secret is to always check the watercolour company rating charts before you buy or look for the ratings on tubes or pans in a shop! If in doubt colour test the pigment by painting it onto watercolour paper and leaving it on a really sunny windowsill for at least 3-6 months.

I hope this blog has answered a few questions for you. Please share it to help others too! Thank you.

Happy painting and see you next month!