Mark Golden on Paint

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Blends versus pure pigment colors

5 September, 2006 (07:52) | General

For most of our short history of Golden Artists Colors, we had prided ourselves on having largely single pigment colors. When we began the only color mixtures were our Permanent Green Lt. and our Quinacridone Crimson (using all Quinacridone pigment). It was a general theme of the company that we would provide colors in their purest form without diluting them for some issue of color space whether that be by standards of current trends in color or historical color usage.

When we began to make some mixture colors by request, we made sure to separate them from our regular line of colors, as if they were something inferior. Over six years ago we asked about 300 artists if given the choice of mixing their own colors with color formulas provided or having a range of historical colors already premixed, (not containing the original historical pigments, as they were either not available, incredibly dangerous, or simply not permanent) what would they choose? The response of over 90% of the artists surveyed were “make the premixed colors!”

Michael Wilcox in his first color books also made a significant claim against mixed pigment colors, claiming that, the mixture colors are not as clean as the single pigment colors. This remains true to the most part… but the reality is that many of the pigments that we use and assume are single pigment colors are already mixtures. For example almost every Cadmium color is corrected for hue by adding lighter or darker shades to the raw pigment. This process is used by many manufacturers in producing their pigments. They will blend off other shades of a certain pigment to make sure they can maintain color standards.

I’ve honestly been surprised at the success of our historical colors. One artist shared with me; “Of course I can mix my own Prussian blue hue, but I only use a small amount of Prussian Blue to adjust my greens. I don’t want to continually mix to the Prussian blue, I just want it out of the tube so I can start to mix!” It seems that these mixture colors have been critically important to some artists. I can’t tell you have often we’ve been asked to make a series of flesh tones.

There are some brands of colors that make pigment mixtures their specialty and make very few single pigment colors. I am confident that this will not be our course. I continue to have a fascination with single pigment colors. I think as a paint-maker this is unavoidable. This does provide the cleanest and highest intensities of any color. But, how important are single pigments to you?




Comment from Karen Jacobs
Time: September 5, 2006, 8:22 pm

Since you mention the Quinacridone colors, could you tell us the real reason Quin Gold was discontinued? I hear it had to do with the lack of popularity with volume users like house and auto paint people.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 6, 2006, 4:13 pm

Hi Karen, The Company making our Quinacridone Gold, continues to make a pigment with the chemistry of Quinacridone Gold, just not the one we used. We loved the old hue we produced previously; it had the most beautiful undertone while retaining the rich dark masstone. The real story of why they stopped making the color we used can only be guessed at: Changes in manufacture, ingredient not available anymore, change in their larger buyers color preference, environmental regulations, etc… It was probably never used as a house paint color. House paint colors are just the same 12 colorants with very few exotic changes. It was used in the plastics industry, but with the largest coming from the automotive. Hope the new Quinacridone Gold/Nickel Azo has worked for you. Regards, Mark

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 7, 2006, 2:33 pm

Golden Quinacridone colors are stronger than most oils of the same pigment.
Many oil manufactures make linseed oil into a gel-butter this allows for a much lower pigment load for the color and oil companies almost always do this with the organic pigments. This also makes a paint that has more of an elastic gooey feel to it.

I think that Old Holland oils is most definitely using the quinacridones in their oils and do not use a gel-butter base. However they are not always labeled as quinacridones but they are also not labeled as cadmiums. In fact their cadmiums have a tendency to have a high tinting strength in relation to other manufactures and some of the old Holland oils
Have a completely different undertone than the mass tone, almost like they are two different colors.
I like to mix almost all my colors as this gives me more control. However it is hard to mix a small amount of organic colors so I do tend to over mix.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 7, 2006, 2:55 pm

Fascinating info David…thanks for the info on the oils…I had wondered about Old Holland, but as you say, their product info and labelling is not so easy to follow as Goldens. Have found myself torn between the OH and Michael Harding oils, but the issue of pure pigments versus blends is always a debate for me. the MH are pure pigments on the whole, whereas Golden have convinced me of the benefits of carrying blended pigments and hues in my palette. Swings and roundabouts I guess…never got on with the Liquitex range, as I found many of their acrylics to be a little too opaque, cloudy, too many blends…the purity of the Golden range of colours leapt out at me from the start.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 7, 2006, 4:35 pm

Hey David, Great to hear from you!! I am also a fan of Blockx! Speak to you soon and glad you joined us. Regards, Mark

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 8, 2006, 10:24 am

Why not just mix the hue with what you have?


Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 8, 2006, 10:29 am

You could mix it, but the new Slate Gray is actually a straight PBlk19 -CI77017. Ground slate. And I do love single pigments!!! Mark

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 8, 2006, 12:09 pm

It seems you could make an entire line of slate colors, as Each slate quarry has unique colors. I will have to order some. How does it handle a tint?

Comment from Anonymous
Time: September 8, 2006, 12:17 pm

Hi Mark thanks for that info. I know that both Golden and Gamblin understand additive and subtractive you can just look at their colors. It would be interesting to see what Gamblin has to say. I will have to go and check that out.


Comment from John
Time: September 8, 2006, 8:04 pm

Greeetings, Blue!

I guess by blasphemy I would refer to my almost complete disregard for posterity—by that I mean my heretical penchant for throwing out my originals. Facts and figures concerning fading and longevity mean nothing to me, though, I must also admit, that the bulk of the work I do that is retained and cherished are pen and ink drawings done on rag paper or hemp art papers, and as such should last a very long time indeed.

Best to all.

Comment from Brian Firth
Time: September 28, 2006, 1:06 pm

I only buy single pigment colors. PERIOD. I was one of the few who was very disappointed to see Golden introduced the historical colors and they were all just convenience mixtures. I would have much preferred several new unique single pigments added to the line rather than the same old pigments in new combinations. However, it seems by the success of the historical colors that I am very much in the minority. Even if Golden was set on doing the historical colors thing, several of them still could have been single pigment colors. Chromium titanium oxide PB24 is an excellent naples yellow. An isoindolinone yellow (PY110 or PY139) would have been a great indian yellow. I would have much rather seen Pyrrole Ruby PR264 used as the Alizarin Crimson Hue. Golden pioneered the introduction of the Pyrrole pigments in acrylics and now they don’t offer Pyrrole Ruby PR264?

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