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Teresa Oaxaca has been making use of transparent pigments for about a year and a half now and a blog post of this nature has been on her to do list ever since. Seldom very popular (unless the paint tube is labeled the ever famous "transparent oxide yellow"), little known and less understood, most people question why someone would want to go to the trouble of producing let alone painting with a weak pigment. In the age of cadmiums and and other bright hi-keyed pigments, earth colors have at turns come into question. Why not mix down? Why settle for a lower chroma?

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Posted in Paints Pigments By Teresa Oaxaca

Grinding paint with a mullerThis is a tutorial on how to prepare the grinding tools and disperse pigments into water to make your own water-based paint. This technique can be used to prepare dispersions of pigment in water to be mixed with gum arabic solution for watercolors, egg yolk for egg tempera, casein solution for casein paint, animal glue for distemper and for use in fresco painting. The same technique can be used to disperse pigments in preparation to make pastels and pigment sticks.

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Posted in Paints Pigments By George O'Hanlon

Historical Pigment: Brun Rouge

10/31/2014 12:00 PM

Roger de Piles' Les Élémens de Peinture PratiqueThe palette described by Roger de Piles in his seventeenth century painting manual, Les Elémens de Peinture Pratique, describes a pigment in French, brun rouge. The basic palette described by de Piles comprises these colors: 1. White lead. 2. Yellow ocher. 3. Brown red. 4. Lake. 5. Stil de grain. 6. Green earth. 7. Umber. 8. Bone or ivory black. My interest is to provide hues that closely resemble the colors found on this 17th century palette, but not only the hues, the undertones and the paint consistency. It is rather easy to mimic a hue with a combination of pigments, but much more difficult the undertones and nearly impossible the paint consistency. The latter can only be done successfully by using the same pigment, at least as far as we can determine from literary sources.

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Posted in Pigments By George O'Hanlon

Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus saxatilis)In his book, Les Elémens de Peinture pratique, Roger de Piles describes a typical palette of the 17th century. According to de Piles, the lightest colors were always placed nearest the thumbhole on the palette. The position of each color on the palette helps us to understand their relative tones. For example, stil de grain, is a lake pigment made with unripe buckthorn berries.

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Posted in Paints Pigments By George O'Hanlon

Detail of a painting by Henry Cliffe, painted in 1959, shows severe cracking and interlayer cleavage in paint containing lead white and zinc white.A paper written by scientists at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute exposes long-term problems with zinc white in oil paint. The report “The Chemical and Mechanical Effects of Pigments on Drying Oils” describes the highlights of a 28-year study on the stability and strength of oil paint films. The results are revealing and have important implications for artwork made with artists’ oil paints containing zinc white.

The paper by Marion Mecklenburg and Charles Tumosa examines the drying of different drying oils, traditional pigments and commercially prepared artists’ oil paints. It also studies the differences of the effects of pigments on the long-term stiffening and film formation of paints. For the study, different pigments were ground in different oils, applied to polyester films and then stored in a controlled environment. Over the years, the paints were removed from the polyester film and tested mechanically as unsupported thin films.

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Posted in Paints Pigments By George O'Hanlon

Fred Wessel Jacqui (Corona)How Fred Wessel uses Rublev Colours Aqueous Pigment Dispersions made by Natural Pigments along with dry pigment powders in his tempera paintings. The dispersions eliminate the step of dispersing pigments in water, allowing him to spend more time at the easel and less with the muller and grinding surface: “I use Rublev Colours Aqueous Pigment Dispersions to compliment the powdered pigments that I use to make my tempera paintings. Unless my powdered pigments are super-fine, I’ll need to grind them to a fine paste with water. The dispersions eliminate this step, allowing me to spend more time at my easel and less with my muller.”

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Posted in Paints Pigments By Fred Wessel

When Pink Was a Yellow Color

8/1/2014 7:00 PM

Buckthorn berries (Rhamnuss frangula)At one time in history, the English word pink referred to a yellow color. There is no satisfactory explanation as to why the word pink meant a yellow color. There is speculation, owing to its greenish yellow tone, that it is derived from the German word pinkeln translated in a dictionary of 1798 as ‘to piss, to make water.’

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Posted in Pigments By George O'Hanlon

Asphaltum and Bitumen

6/30/2014 1:00 PM

Asphaltum and bitumen are broad terms for a wide range of substances based on high-molecular hydrocarbons. From the viewpoint of current art historical research, bitumen represents a large group of organic substances, which consist of an indefinable mixture of high-molecular hydrocarbons. Bitumen either occurs naturally or is obtained from the synthetic distillation of petroleum. Depending upon its place of origin or technique of manufacturing, bitumen possesses a composition of different characteristics.

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Posted in Paints Pigments By George O'Hanlon

17th Century Flesh Tone Palette

6/18/2014 10:00 PM

Roger de PilesIn the 17th century, Roger de Piles described in precise detail the flesh tone palette used by nearly every artist of that time in his seminal treatise, Les Élémens de Peinture Pratique. This painting manual influenced artists for several hundred years and established the current practice of setting a limited palette and a rational approach to painting portraits among the greatest artists of that period. In this article, we translate chapter four from the original 1684 French manual and explain how contemporary artists can set the limited 17th century palette for flesh tones using Rublev Colours® Artists’ Oils.

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Posted in The Director's Blog Paints Pigments By George O'Hanlon

Purple OcherOchers are natural iron oxide earths that are found in many parts of the world. They are among the most lightfast and stable pigments used in the arts. Iron oxide pigments produce a wide range of colors, from black through shades of purple and red in the anhydrous oxides to yellow, orange, and brown in the oxide hydroxides. While it is the iron oxides that produce the colors, other minerals—such as quartz and clays, for example—are also present. Iron oxides have high tinting strength, and strongly colored earths that are suitable as pigments may contain a relatively low concentration of iron minerals compared to the concentration of the other minerals. The weight percentage of iron oxide in these earth pigments vary widely from as low as 10% to upper amount of 97% with clay and quartz accounting for the remainder.

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Posted in Paints Pigments By George O'Hanlon

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