Colors & Pigments: What is your base pallet?

What is your favorite color, someone asked–having in mind fabrics we were about to wrap ourselves in for a dress up show off and dance on the roof of the Ox…

An impossible question, I said. Every color is what it is only by the colors around it. Ask me, what combinations I’d like.

They didn’t believe me. Thought I was… I don’t know. But it’s true. We don’t know color as pure gradations on the spectrum of light, but in consort, in harmony with their surroundings. Place a tile of a particular chroma, change the surrounding colors, and–it’s as though transformed. Another color.

Add to that, that we don’t deal with color as primary light, but through the medium of pigments. I remember someone–probly on Facebook–showing his whatever… claimed that no one needs more than 5 tubes of pigment: blue yellow red black and white.

Sure. All other colors are variants of the primary colors. But pigments don’t give us color as pure light, but colors as rejections of parts of the spectrum. What appears as blue, is because the pigment absorbs reds and yellows and reflects, that is, casts off what we see–which is blue. And mixing pigments involves so many more variables.

Cut to the chase. When I want blue… there is no such thing as pure blue–but only the variants from chemical compounds–and they will all have different properties when we mix them with other pigments. Blue and yellow make green, so we know… but Ultramarine (PB-29… the standard way pigments are classified.. so you know what you’re really getting), makes a very different green than PB-28. Add to that, different pigments vary in opacity/transparency, in tinting strength.)

So what each artist chooses for their pallet will vary. Here is mine. What is yours?

PB – 15 Phthalo (or 15-2)
PB-28 Cobalt
PB-29 Ultramarine
PB-35 Cerulean
PY-35 Cadmium
PY-38 Quinacridone
PR-83 Alizarin Crimson
PR-101 Burnt Siena
PR-108 Cadmium Red
PO-20 Cadmium
PV-15 Ultra Marine
PV-19 Quinacridone
PG-7 Thalo/Hookers Green
G-17 Chromium Oxide
PBr-6 Iron Oxide
PBr-7 Burnt Umber

…and I’m only dealing with acrylics. With oils, you have to factor in the varying expansion/contraction rates on drying unless what you put on is all one layer. Else your paint might crack and flake and fall off your canvas.


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