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Old 07-10-08, 04:08 AM
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Default Whites

interested to know what white pigments people are using. I think that titanium and even zinc white might be just too opaque for a lot of uses. What are the choices?
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Old 07-10-08, 07:19 AM
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I use essentially a mix of titanium and zinc white, sometimes titanium or zinc white separately, rarely silver white. The choose of the white or mix depends on the transparency/opacity required, and the chemical compatibility with other pigments.
The choices are many and every choice has a good rational reason :-)))
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Old 07-10-08, 12:15 PM
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I pretty much stick to titanium white these days. I don't really use zinc white at all lately. And since I don't want to use any lead-based white, that pretty much limits the options.
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Old 07-10-08, 01:55 PM
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There's lithopone which is a mixture of zinc and barium, or a white made from oyster shell that's usually rather pricey. Generally speaking, their coverage is much like zinc with a slight tone difference. Titanium is at the top in terms of opacity.
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Old 08-10-08, 12:21 AM
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The Smithsonian did a long study of white pigments very recently. You can check out the article posted on Natural Pigment's website here: Natural Pigments

The title of the piece is "Zinc White -- Problems in Oil Paint
28-year study exposes problems in oil paint". It is a shocking article and while the focus is zinc in oil paintings, why are there less problems with titanium or with lead in oil?

Like JeffG mentioned, I pretty much stay away from zinc white and stick to titanium white. There hasn't been a study done on zinc white and egg tempera yet but why risk it? And, while lead white is supposedly the best white, I don't want to risk that either...I have too many accidents in the studio.
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Old 09-10-08, 03:13 AM
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The zinc white article is very concerning and gives one pause when considering using it. I do have paintings that are done with homemade linseed oil mixed with zinc white that are about 15 years old that show no signs of damage so perhaps there are more complex factors involved.

I have tried using some whiting as a very transparent white - though I would have to say that it may just be a bit too transparent. It can enable incredibly soft transitions however. It may need to be ground more I think unless there is a form of chalk that is finer in particle size.
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Old 09-10-08, 01:17 PM
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Jeff,
If you were using whiting as a glaze to soften colors, you may want to try terra bianca di Vicenza. It carries very little tinting strength, but makes a nice wash to warm up colors slightly. It also gives a delicate cloudiness which can be used to set things slightly out of focus or push a passage back from the picture plane. I've bought it at Zecchi and from a shop in Rome, but I recently saw it advertised on the Natural Pigments website. I don't know if those are options for you. I've collected kaolin in the wild in my part of the U.S. Mostly pure white, but sometimes it's tinted with iron oxide colors. It works in a similar way to the Vicenza white and is very finely grained.
Dennis
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Old 10-10-08, 06:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paintrman View Post
The Smithsonian did a long study of white pigments very recently. You can check out the article posted on Natural Pigment's website here: Natural Pigments

The title of the piece is "Zinc White -- Problems in Oil Paint
28-year study exposes problems in oil paint". It is a shocking article and while the focus is zinc in oil paintings, why are there less problems with titanium or with lead in oil?

Like JeffG mentioned, I pretty much stay away from zinc white and stick to titanium white. There hasn't been a study done on zinc white and egg tempera yet but why risk it? And, while lead white is supposedly the best white, I don't want to risk that either...I have too many accidents in the studio.
Thank you for this. I usually work with titanium, but just order some zinc white last week having been inspired by Scott Bartner's use of white, and thought I'd experiment. This certainly gives me pause for thought. Maybe I read this just in time...

I'm not sure if this is a silly afterthought: Some time ago somebody encourage me to use titanium in dry pigment form as they found it far quicker to build up than in it's more transparent dispersion form. This makes me wonder if titanium in dispersion form could ask as kind of zinc substitute in contrast to the dry pigment. Just a thought.

The terra bianca di Vicenza sounds very compelling.... (but then almost everything does in Italian (-: )


Does anyone know if the painting by Millais mentioned at the end of the article has egg tempera in the under painting? It seems that it may have been used to a degree by some of the Pre-Raphaelites and I wonder if the use of zinc in egg tempera is less problematic than in oil? (After reading this I'm not sure I'd want to risk it all the same. )

This is a naive question, but the whiting in traditional gesso is just generally chalk and marble isn't it?

Last edited by jpohl; 10-10-08 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 10-10-08, 07:51 PM
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The Kremer Titanium dispersion I used seemed particularly creamy and didnít cake or dry out in the bottle the way their ivory black did. This led me to speculate that they had added glycerin. This made me suspect that the tempera made from it may not have had the pigment load of tempera made with dry pigment. However, this is conjecture. I only used it on my first painting. My real point is that since dry titanium mixes readily with egg yolk and is non toxic why take the chance of using a dispersion that may contain added substances.
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Old 10-10-08, 10:39 PM
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DLH...excellent point! I wrote to Guerra Paints and asked about them drying out. I have a couple of bottles that seem to be getting pretty "thick". I didn't get a response to my "can I just add more water to them" question. Something is keeping the paints in solution form but who knows what? I know it won't be a problem to add water but will I then have to deal with mold again (that was my big problem with the pigments I ground into water and stored in baby food jars). I swear it's always something.
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