Art & Design Magazine

Pigment Brands

By Ingrid Christensen

Pigment Brands

White Linen\
10 x 8

This is a limited palette painting - sort of.  I used the Zorn palette of yellow ochre, cad red light, ivory black and titanium white, but I added transparent red oxide without which I find it hard to start a painting.  It's the color that I use to draw the initial composition and, with the addition of ultramarine blue, the initial shadow color.
I've been experimenting with burnt sienna in the hopes that it would give me more robust coverage, but that proved a false road.   Transparent paints tend to be more powerful tinters than opaque or semi opaque pigments, and I found I was using a lot of burnt sienna in an attempt to replicate the strength of trans. red oxide.  It it ain't broke, don't fix it.
I use a variety of brands even within this limited palette because there's a surprising amount of color variation even in something as simple as yellow ochre.   So my limited palette contains 3 different brands: M. Graham, Winsor Newton, and Lefranc and Bourgeois.
M. Graham has great, reasonably-priced paint.  I love the buttery consistency and powerful tinting strength and it has, in my opinion, one of the prettiest yellow ochres.  Yellow ochre often tends toward a dull brown, but I love the warm yellow of Graham's version.  I use their cad red light and transparent red oxide as well, not because I've made a careful study of this pigment in other brands, but because it's hard to beat their price and I've got no complaints with the color or tinting strength.
My ivory black is Winsor Newton.  It makes a gorgeous, muted blue when mixed with white and makes lovely greens with ochre and smoky purples with the cad red light.
Lefranc and Bourgeois brand is a new addition to my palette.  I've been increasingly aware of the huge difference that white makes and have tried a lot of different kinds in the past few months: Winsor Newton titanium white, flake white hue, and transparent white; Gamblin titanium and flake white replacement; and Graham titanium.  I've sworn off of the beautiful semi-transparent zinc white because of it's brittleness when dry; I'd be too worried that it would crack with the natural expansion and contraction of the linen support.
The challenge with white is that it's necessary for building body and creating impasto, but it easily corrupts color.  I was on the verge of buying a lead white which would give me a warm, semi-transparent white, but read about the wonders of L and B. titanium and so decided to give it a try.  It really is good: creamy but not melting and not as cold as many titaniums.  So while I can't buy it in my city, the wonders of online shopping allows me to use this as my new white.   I still grab for the flake white replacement from Gamblin for its snotty consistency ( their description) when I want instant texture, but I'm sure that I could boost the textural possibilities of the Land B by soaking up some of its oil on cardboard before use.
Reading this, I see that I've become a real paint snob, but there are worse vices in the world.  Call it discerning and it even becomes a virtue.
Happy painting!

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