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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • number of pigments in an admixture?ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2020-03-11 03:33:04 ... Most recent comment 2020-03-11 17:19:29
    Oil Paint Pigments

    ​Dear MITRA,

    I've always favored a fairly limited oil palette, preferring to create my own admixtures rather than buy every tube of brown, green, or flesh tint. Recently I have expanded my palette to include some natural earth colors as I have begun to focus on using leaner *pigments* under fatter ones in addition to following the fat-over-lean rule regarding the amount of oil medium added.

    Is there a limit to how many pigments are a preferable maximum in any given admixture? Does it complicate the chemistry too much to blend several pigments to get just the right color? Is there any rule about mixing natural pigments with synthetic ones?

    Many thanks for your help!

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    There is really no limit. The only time that this would cause an issue is if you are trying to match a color that was previously painted by yourself or another. If you do not use the same pigments the color can appear to match under one light source and not under another. This is called metamerism.

    Modern pigments are be compatible with each other, unlike in the early days of western painting where copper and sulfur containing pigments could cause unwanted changes to other pigments (as least in theory as modern analysis has show that Old Master painters often combined “incompatible” pigments, sometimes with no ill effect).

    Brian Baade
    2020-03-11 15:02:35
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thanks, Brian -- that's good news. And I've learned a new vocabulary word today! Thank you for your very interesting information!

    2020-03-11 17:09:20
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Minimizing interaction between "incompatible" pigments is one of the often-cited traditional functions of the varnish component of an oil painting medium. ​I think the (extinct) historical version of Emerald Green was at one time assumed to be incompatible with cadmium pigments in water-based mixtures, but I'm not sure whether that was even demonstrated to have been a problem. 

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2020-03-11 17:19:29

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