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Old 29-05-08, 11:33 PM
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Lightbulb Artists historical palettes

Quote:
Diego Velazquez

Listed are the ingredients Velazquez used to make his colors:

White: Lead White and calcite
Yellow: Yellow Iron Oxide, lead-tin yellow, Naples Yellow
Orange: orange iron oxide and vermilion of mercury
Red: red iron oxide, vermilion of mercury, organic red lake.
Blue: Azurite, lapiz lazuli and smalt
Brown: brown iron oxide and manganese oxide
Black: organic black of vegetal or animal origin
Green: azurite, iron oxide and lead tin-yellow
Purple: organic red lake and azurite

Source: "Velazquez: The Technique of Genius" by Jonathan Brown
I found this posted on another website and wondered how some of these would translated into pigments (with or without index numbers today). Some and according to Daniel V. Thompson, the more opaque pigments would be more useful in tempera than the transparent ones. Not sure if this is true, because as was pointed out to me, Thompson didn't do much work in tempera. Any thoughts?

(I'm still debating my palette, and considering the options. I have plans for work in landscape, still life and portraiture so until I do the work I won't know how much I can or should narrow it down... still trying to decide if I can live without some more toxic staples, and how to best substitute for a few colours. Have yet to come across vermillion and a few other more toxic pigments in safer dispersion form. I have to stock up before the cold weather hits again, because I understand that if the dispersion freezes it can affect the pigment.)

Before I place my first orders for colours I thought I'd check out a few palettes by the old masters while i'm reconsidering mine. I'd love to find Ingres' among others. I posted Sargent's the other day:


Quote:
Blanc d' Argent
Chrome (pale)
Transparent Golden Ochre
Chinese Vermillion
Venetian Red
Chrome Orange
Burnt Sienna
Raw Umber
Garance Fronce' (Rose Madder)
Viridian
Cobalt Blue
French Ultramarine Blue
Ivory Black
Cobalt Violet

From "The Technique of Portrait Painting" by Harrington Mann, J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, printed in Great Britain.

I came across both these on a portrait artist's forum after a google search.

I would love to hear what other tempera artists have on their palettes, or if anyone has information on the palettes of artists they greatly admire. I'm in awe of painters working with four pigments, but think i may have to start with forty and narrow it down from there (in part to find ways to best replace some of the more toxic and fugitive colours.) I'm not sure if the best or most cost effective way to do things, but I can't run out to the store at a moments notice if I run out of anything. (It's taken jerry's over two months to ship an item for me, but I'm sure I'll have more luck with kama.) After reading M. Mattleson's thoughts on William Paxton palette yesterday I'm considering (along with other painters) lightening up the cadmiums, but not sure I can bring myself to give them up altogether. It has been said that colour is about emotion and tone about intellect. I think in my heart I am more drawn to Monet's pure use of colour and light than the classical emphasis on tone and form, but still finding my way. Perhaps there is a middle ground that doesn't have to be wishy washy.

Last edited by jpohl; 29-05-08 at 11:43 PM.
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Old 30-05-08, 05:09 AM
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Salamander Salamander is offline
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Don't over think the toxicity fear factor. Use it for paint, don't eat it. Use common sense.
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Old 04-06-08, 02:54 AM
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That's not as easy to say if you have two tiny children running around, and don't have a dedicated studio... but perhaps I am being over protective.

I have to admit the rare pigments page on kamapigment.com is looking very tempting, but there may be a way to work around most colours. In a couple of years I have a dedicated studio again, and in the meantime a few wiser choices might make all the difference. Taking my easel out of storage was exciting enough this year, even if my studio is along a wall in the dining room. If there are one or two riskier pigments maybe it won't be as bad if I am very careful with them.

I always had a hard time keeping paint off my skin, and this may be part of the reason oil was starting to wear on my health and limit the hours I could work (Granted i would pull shifts up to 30 hours or more.. is it any wonder I started to feel affects from paint?) I was glad to have two healthy babies after years of working with solvents (maybe the green tea helped. ) And yes there was a sale on prussian blue, or I would never have bought it:

http://www.spaceabovethecouch.com/2006/02/18/102/

I don't watch much tv, but the other day I saw the brain scan of a person who worked in a furniture finishing workshop that was riddled with holes. The doctor said fumes from toxic solvents do as much damage to the brain as some of the worst drugs, and it made me very glad to have switched to tempera and dispersions. If I ever work my way back to oil, it will be good to have a non toxic alternative for at least part of the year.

btw. I did come across Ingres palette: http://www.studiomara.com/history5.html

and Vermeer's:
http://www.essentialvermeer.com/palette/palette_vermeer'_palette.html

Last edited by jpohl; 04-06-08 at 02:57 AM.
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Old 05-06-08, 08:41 PM
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Default mars brown

I came across an extensive website on Sargent which notes his use of mars brown (PBr 6 ASTM l), a colour not mentioned in the reference to his palette above. (Thought I'd better add this to not lead anyone astray. I've never worked with mars brown, or any of the mars colours but am intrigued. That sounds like pigment mined from the red planet. )

http://jssgallery.org/Resources/Foru...hod.htm#Colors

Quote:
I can, also, excerpt a part from the American Artist magazine which is an abriviated form of their entire wonderful article.

  • The information we do have has come from examination of his pictures and direct analysis of his paint. The same commonly available range of pigments is seen in virtually all of the Tate's later portraits and on existing palettes. The range is quite wide but does not include every pigment available at that time. He regularly used Mars yellow (a synthetic iron oxide) and cadmium yellow; viridian and emerald green, sometimes mixed; vermilion and Mars red, both alone and mixed; madder; synthetic ultramarine or cobalt blue; and ivory black, sienna, and Mars brown. The dark backgrounds of many portraits include a mixture of ivory black, Mars brown,and a generous quantity of paint medium: a combination that produces a color similar to the traditional Van Dyke brown. A pale shade of chrome yellow, cerulean blue, red lead, cadmium red, and cobalt violet were found on occasion, but not in every portrait examined. There is a more limited selection of blue and yellow pigments in the later portraits than in the earlier ones. This narrow range of blues,yellows, and greens in his palette went some way to create a color harmony and to fix a cool or a warm overall tone to each painting.Sargent mixed lighter colors such as flesh tones by adding to lead white, vermilion, and a selection of other pigments including bone black, on occasion rose madder, and even green viridian. Mixing them together roughly on the palette, he then worked them into and onto adjacent brushstrokes on the canvas to give more subtle variations in tone.
    (Jacqueline Ridge and Joyce Townsend; "How Sargent Made it Look Easy"; American Artist magazine; August, 1999, page 29)
p.s. it looks like I may have found an answer to vermillion thanks to Karin Wells. I love this artist for the wealth of information and knowledge she shares on her blog:

http://karinwells.blogspot.com/2008/...h-palette.html

She mixes indian red with cadmium orange to make a "deep rich vermillion." Indian red wasn't on my pigment list till now...

She amazes me with her use of ivory black. In the hands of a lesser painter it could kill the light in an oil painting, but she utilizes it in such a way that it is central to her distinctive work. She even uses prussian blue. (-: This artist knows how to use photography in such a way that her paintings still have a life of their own. It can be done! She understands how to avoid the trap of the static second hand image. (Hours studying Vermeer may have helped.) I'm not sure this is the palette for me, but it is very inspiring. Her glazing technique may also make this relevant for tempera. I don't think there is such a thing as permanent alizarin crimson though, but I may be wrong. Hoping to explore the pyrolle option and see how it compares.

btw my silverpoint, palettes and first pigments arrived while I was posting this. Hurray!!! where are the party balloon emoticons? lots to keep me busy and off of the computer for a while...

Last edited by jpohl; 05-06-08 at 11:00 PM.
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Old 12-08-08, 12:47 AM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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Don't go by Thompson's recommendations. He was more of a theoretician than a hands-on painter, and all his theories are strongly stuck in the nineteen-thirties. Yes, opaque colors are useful, but so are transparent ones; they have different uses. Maybe opaque colors better suit Thompson's theories.

Don't don't don't casually use toxic pigments. Yes be careful, especially if you have children in the house. I have small children, but also a dedicated studio. Even so, I won't have lead or cadmium pigments anywhere in the house.

While Velazquez' palette is interesting, it includes a number of toxic pigments and some impermanent, which have largely been replaced today by better ones. I wouldn't touch some of them. I would also be skeptical of the utility of Sargent's palette. By the time Sargent was painting, artists had lost touch with their materials and were using whatever the professional colormen were selling them. They had little sense of their ingredients or permanence or safety. I wouldn't try to duplicate anybody's palette from the eighteenth or nineteenth century, not for tempera where I had to handle raw pigments.

Also, these two were oil painters, not tempera. There's evidence that some pigments react badly in the more exposed egg medium, especially lead-based ones (which you shouldn't be using anyway). You can't rely on lists of oil paints to supply suitable tempera paints.

Ingres and Vermeer were also oil painters.

I don't use cadmiums at all. They are as bad or worse than lead, incredibly poisonous. I find the Mars (iron oxide) colors to be perfectly opaque and really brilliant when used properly, rendering cadmiums unnecessary.

For a vermilion red substitute I use Mars orange, which is as brilliant and opaque as all the Mars colors. (By the way, real vermilion comes in all sorts of shades, from bright orange through red to a deep almost-maroon.)

Upshot: I strongly recommend using Mars colors (violet, red, orange, yellow) instead of the much more dangerous vermilions and cadmiums. Mars black is also a great color, makes a cool blue grey when mixed with white.

Mars brown, however, includes manganese, which is a health hazard. I can't recommend it.
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Old 18-08-08, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessandra Kelley View Post
Don't go by Thompson's recommendations. He was more of a theoretician than a hands-on painter, and all his theories are strongly stuck in the nineteen-thirties. Yes, opaque colors are useful, but so are transparent ones; they have different uses. Maybe opaque colors better suit Thompson's theories.

Don't don't don't casually use toxic pigments. Yes be careful, especially if you have children in the house. I have small children, but also a dedicated studio. Even so, I won't have lead or cadmium pigments anywhere in the house.

While Velazquez' palette is interesting, it includes a number of toxic pigments and some impermanent, which have largely been replaced today by better ones. I wouldn't touch some of them. I would also be skeptical of the utility of Sargent's palette. By the time Sargent was painting, artists had lost touch with their materials and were using whatever the professional colormen were selling them. They had little sense of their ingredients or permanence or safety. I wouldn't try to duplicate anybody's palette from the eighteenth or nineteenth century, not for tempera where I had to handle raw pigments.

Also, these two were oil painters, not tempera. There's evidence that some pigments react badly in the more exposed egg medium, especially lead-based ones (which you shouldn't be using anyway). You can't rely on lists of oil paints to supply suitable tempera paints.

Ingres and Vermeer were also oil painters.

I don't use cadmiums at all. They are as bad or worse than lead, incredibly poisonous. I find the Mars (iron oxide) colors to be perfectly opaque and really brilliant when used properly, rendering cadmiums unnecessary.

For a vermilion red substitute I use Mars orange, which is as brilliant and opaque as all the Mars colors. (By the way, real vermilion comes in all sorts of shades, from bright orange through red to a deep almost-maroon.)

Upshot: I strongly recommend using Mars colors (violet, red, orange, yellow) instead of the much more dangerous vermilions and cadmiums. Mars black is also a great color, makes a cool blue grey when mixed with white.

Mars brown, however, includes manganese, which is a health hazard. I can't recommend it.
Thank you.. that is incredibly useful information. I will look into the mars colours. A whole new world to explore. I'll be cutting down my use of cadmiums because I'm becoming drawn to a more natural palette, but it's a hard habit to break. (There may not be many more generations of painters who will have the option of using them.) I'm limited the main danger by only using them in dispersion form, and wiping the brush with paper towels and not my fingers... I'm also going to place them in a locked mini fridge, or at least one out of reach. Does anyone sell a mini fridge with a lock I wonder? It might not be a bad idea... sometimes it's hard to keep one step ahead of the child proofing.

It really good to hear so much detail from someone with experience with all these pigments. Your website may have been the first one I came across when I started thinking of egg tempera for health reasons while I was pregnant years ago. (The morning sickness I suffered trying to work on painting before I realized it wasn't just a flu... and so grateful the toxins didn't hurt the baby. Still think the green tea may have helped. (-: ) Since then the beauty and possibilities of the medium have drawn me in even more so, and more than I could have expected.. it's also lead me to new places and new inspirations. As my aunt says, "all for a purpose." (-:

I think we are very lucky today to have such a range of pigments to choose from and to have much more knowledge about them... There is a lot of inspiration to be gleaned from the "old masters", but if we are smart enough about colour miximg we can take the best of both worlds, and limit the use of toxins. Some people may disagree... there are those who would never give up lead white, real naples or vermillion. The pull is strong... but I think we shouldn't have to short change ourselves, or so I hope.

all the best, jp.

p.s. does anyone have suggestions for a tin lead I substitute?

Last edited by jpohl; 18-08-08 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 24-09-08, 09:56 PM
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Dimitris C. Milionis Dimitris C. Milionis is offline
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I like our local tradition

White Titanium
Yellow Ochra
Red Oxide
Black [bluish tint - paney's grey]

on a Burnt Umbra tinted canvas/panel is fine with me
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