Since it’s the holiday weekend, Independence Day, it’s time to talk about red, white and blue paints. These basic colors are part of almost every palette, and there are many variations that can significantly alter the appearance of your paintings.
Let’s take a look at some of the hues you’ll find on your art supply store shelves. You’ll find loads of color choices, and each has its own particular set of properties and peculiarities.
There are lots of great reds to ring freedom in…
This deep, maroon paint falls on the blue side of the red spectrum, and its rich vibrant color is perfect for flowers and rosy hues. Along with Cadmium Red, it is standard on every artist’s palette. Alizarin is a fugitive color, although the newer synthetic formulations have more permanence. It is transparent and is a staining color.
Although it’s not toxic, skin contact may cause irritation or allergic reactions. It is also known as Crimson Madder, Madder Lake and Rose Madder.
There are a variety of Cadmium Red hues. These are often the go-to colors for a basic color palette that most beginning art students use. Professional artists prefer Cadmium Red when they want a warm red with yellow undertones.
Cadmium Red Deep, Cadmium Red Medium and Cadmium Red Light are not interchangeable, although they are created from the same basic element. This paint has some toxic qualities if ingested or inhaled. It also has high permanence and is lightfast. Some manufacturers list it as Cadmium Scarlet or Selenium Red.
This rich red is a combination of Alizarin Crimson and Red Iron Oxide. This give the hue a deep blood-red color that blends out to a pale, peachy pink when mixed with white. It’s a little on the blue side with warm undertones.
Since the Alizarin component is not lightfast or permanent and the Iron Oxide component has good permanence and lightfast qualities, Crimson Golden may change over time with exposure to light.
Now let’s take a closer look at white…
Chinese White is a special formulation of Zinc White that is made to use with opaque watercolor, tempera and gouache. It has excellent permanence and lightfast qualities, although it is moderately toxic if inhaled or ingested.
It can be used with watercolor to add opacity that creates a gouache appearance and is commonly found on the egg tempera artist’s palette.
Titanium White is the white you’ll find in most artist tabourets. It is a true white with no bluish tint and it is extremely lightfast, permanent and opaque. However, it does have a tendency to yellow over time. In oil paint, it dries more quickly than Zinc White. This paint is non-toxic and chemically stable.
Zinc White has a bluish cast and has less covering power than Titanium White. It is more transparent than other whites, but used alone it is brittle and can flake off a support. It is very permanent, lightfast and is slow drying. Zinc White can be toxic if inhaled or ingested.
Go Blue… Blue Paint that is! :)
This lovely blue is the color of sky and water for many artists, although it is a semi-opaque pigment. It has a low tinting ability and dries quickly. In watercolor paint it is rather granular and sometimes appears chalky. Cerulean Blue is stable, permanent and lightfast, although it is slightly toxic.
Cobalt Blue is a very bright blue that is stable and lightfast. However, the pigment is toxic and it has fallen out of favor in recent years.
Phthalo Blue is often used in place of Cobalt Blue, although the richness of the color is hard to beat. Caution should be used when painting with this pigment.
French Ultramarine Blue
This warm, vibrant blue is on virtually every artist’s palette. It is transparent and has purple undertones. It is a staining color and has a high tinting strength, although it dries with a granular appearance with watercolor. It’s often used as a glaze, although it tends to dull when mixed with white.
Natural Ultramarine is more permanent than man-made Ultramarine and neither has associated toxicity.
Phthalo colors were developed for use in industry and are permanent, lightfast and stable. The Phthalo colors are non-toxic.
Phthalo Blue is a warm blue with reddish undertones. It blends well with other colors and is a good substitute for Cobalt Blue.