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  #1  
Old 08-21-2009, 03:31 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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Default Prussian versus Pthalo Blue

Hello All,

I love the tone/hue/transparency of Prussian blue, but as anyone who's worked with it knows it requires a lot of grinding to get it fully dispersed, loves to travel, and is quite staining. I've grown accustomed to its demanding personality, but my students often tussle with it.

A fellow tempera painter recently suggested replacing Prussian with Paris Blue, but I think he must have meant Pthalo, as my understanding is that Prussian and Paris Blue are different names for the same pigment. Anyone out there have thoughts on the similarities and differences between Pthalo and Prussian blue, and how well the former would work as a replacement for the latter?

Thanks, Koo
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Old 08-21-2009, 05:09 PM
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Default Prussian versus Pthalo Blue

Hello. I'm new to the forum and quite new to egg tempera, but here goes... for me, and for what it's worth, I find Pthalo Blue just too blue, too inky and intensely strong. Whereas Prussian Blue has an almost aged, or dusky feel to it. I find it especially useful as part of my mix for the shadow areas of skin tones. I prefer the more muted feel of the Prussian Blue.

Thanks,
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  #3  
Old 08-21-2009, 05:53 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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Sigh...that's what I suspected. So many of the new organic synthetics do not "dull down", but stay chromatically intense no matter what you do with them. I love that dulling down effect of the older hues (if Prussian can be considered as such, relative to Pthalo) because it more accurately mimics what happens to local colors as they are affected by light and shadow, thus creating more naturalistic light effects. So I guess I'll stick with my Prussian. Thanks for the input!

Koo
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Old 08-22-2009, 04:48 PM
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Koo,

Personally, I don't think I could do without Phthalo blue. Yes, it is chromatically strong and tends to bully other pigments but...I love it. You can get this to dull-down with enough medium and water and if you think about the "Real Color Wheel" which shows it's complimentary color to be either an orange-red or a pink-red (depending on who you ask). I gave up on Prussian Blue after discovering how it gets a coppery sheen in thick layers that I find distracting. Yes, phthalo blue is staining and artificially brilliant but in thin layers and if you remember to tone it down (I use Quinacridone Rose or Quinacridone Red) it can mimic Ultramarine Blue. You can also gray it down with a little Transparent Oxide Brown. I think I bought my Trans Oxide Brown from Daniel Smith but maybe it was Guerra Paint? These are all very transparent colors that work well together (they don't separate easily after they are mixed together).

I remember an early watercolor painting that I did using Prussian Blue and the client made a comment that the blue area looked like I had used sparkles...She asked if I added that because she was a lesbian!!! My friends from then on called that my disco painting. That's why I gave up on the Prussian Blue.
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Old 08-22-2009, 08:59 PM
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I dont use either very much, but should probably experiment with them. Prussian is handy for toning down or shadowing barn-reds. For my rare use of pthalo, i use a dispersion.

Although not an ET painter, Carlson says in his landscape book that Prussian is the only blue he used.
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:53 PM
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Phthalo blue can be horrible if using a dry pigment because it gets on everything and stains like nobodies business! I keep it stored in a baby food container with water. Still, it's a beautiful color!
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Old 08-23-2009, 01:30 PM
dbclemons dbclemons is offline
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You might take a look at Indanthrone blue, PB60. It has similar properties to Prussian blue, but I don't know if it would handle any easier.
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Old 08-23-2009, 04:16 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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Personally I dislike Phthalo Blue. I find it more difficult to grind than Prussian Blue. And its copper content is dangerous to human reproduction. And it dyes things just as badly as Prussian Blue, and overwhelms paint mixtures like nobody's business. And why the heck would you tone down a poisonous, dye-based pigment (Phthalo Blue) with another poisonous, dye-based pigment (a quinacridone) to mimic a cheap, relatively safe color (Ultramarine Blue) which is naturally beautiful on its own anyway?

You shouldn't be painting layers so thick as to get that coppery sheen, not in egg tempera anyway. Personally, I find Prussian Blue indispensable. I love it, and accept that it requires some special handling.
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Old 08-23-2009, 07:20 PM
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Kelley Vandiver
 
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Ouch! I shouldn't use it? What if I like painting many, many layers of color in egg tempera in order to get dark, rich colors? After all these years I find that I am doing it wrong? I know that many of the colors I use are poisonous and so I try to be very careful in how I store them and how I use them (cadmium yellow, cadmium red, cobalt blue, and on and on). I (generally) find the particles of Pthalo blue to be very small and so they make beautifully clear layers of bright color. Ultramarine blue is usually more gritty, with larger particles and I find that it tends to get gobbled up by other colors that are mixed with it (in my experience) because it seems to be a weaker color. I was simply giving an example of how to tone down Phthalo Blue successfully. I am definitely NOT suggesting that people eat it or breath it because that would be dumb. I think that with reasonable care and some experimentation, you can add a beautiful color to your pallet that will add to your paintings and not necessarily take away...
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2009, 03:38 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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I'm sorry. I spoke too gruffly. I was under the impression that you meant single thick layers of Prussian Blue, not many thin layers. On the whole I have mostly seen that coppery sheen on thick paint dried in the palette, but not on paintings. (I bet there's a good use for that sheen, sort of like an interference pigment ...)

Phthalo Blue is a beautiful and useful color. I use it in every painting medium apart from egg tempera. I just dislike its handling properties as a raw pigment.

I agree that Ultramarine Blue is an oddly behaved pigment. It's thixotropic and smelly and, although I don't find it gritty, in thin layers it dries to a grainy pattern. I haven't noticed that it's especially weak, but then that may be the pigments I use.

I apologize for the cranky nature of my previous post. All of your points are good ones.
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