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The use of earth colors?

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Marie
Advanced Member
Username: Marie

Post Number: 194
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 4:06 pm:   Print Post

I agree with George. One's choice of pigments is a very personal decision and involves a lot of trial and error.

In general, I think it is best to keep it simple in the beginning and then gradually add and discard pigments over time.
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 3:51 pm:   Print Post

I donít think anyone should recommend a specific set of paint pigments for another person to start with, because the best set of pigments for each person is based on that personís personality. Begin with any starter set on the market and you will find that over time you will drop some pigments because they donít seem right for you, and other pigments you will just fall in love with. No one can predict what pigments you will end up with at the end of the process.


The only thing I will recommend is that you start with small tube at first so as to save money and not waste paint.

The most important thing is to have fun exploring.
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Rekha
Advanced Member
Username: Rekha

Post Number: 164
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 2:19 pm:   Print Post

George, along with the comments made here and what I read in handprint, it seems that paint selection is not anything magical but a learned experience. So this is what I intend doing. The only thing I want to know is which pigments to select for the purpose till I am confident
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 11:25 am:   Print Post

Thatís very well said! About the question of how opaque paints generate transparent glaze Ė add lots of water. I hope I didnít misunderstand the question.
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Rekha
Advanced Member
Username: Rekha

Post Number: 162
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 10:21 am:   Print Post

And yes, handprint also advocate experimenting to learn to know the behaviour of pigments. He also says
"The essential facts of color are found in the behavior in paints rather than in the abstract, geometrically perfect rules of "color theory". Abstract concepts either break down in the specifics of paint mixing (leaving the student even more confused and bewildered than before), or they encourage the student to mix with his concepts instead of his eyes. The first guiding idea is to let your eyes do the talking. "Color theory" does not act as a law of nature to determine the behavior of paints. Paints just do what they do as material substances, and "color theory" comes as an after the fact explanation. Look at what paints do, and learn from it."


http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/intstud.html
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Rekha
Advanced Member
Username: Rekha

Post Number: 161
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 10:17 am:   Print Post

Kisha, I was just doing that as I wrote the last missive. There doesn't seem to be any correlation: carbon black 0.05um, transparent synthetic organics 0.1um, semiopaque perinone orange 1um???
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Kisha
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 10:12 am:   Print Post

Note also that handprint defines opacity as having the ability to hide a black line in full masstone. I don;t use watercolors in full masstone but dilute them greatly so they are all sort of transparent. As far as Rekha's question, I suspect noone can reliably generate such a pat rule. It is more useful just to experiment and see what works.
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Kisha
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 10:04 am:   Print Post

Rekha-- You can find out more than you want to know about all of this at handprint--I would trust his science more than anything else in terms of how the particles behave.
http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/pigmt3.html#particlesize\

You should also generally surf the site for more
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Rekha
Advanced Member
Username: Rekha

Post Number: 160
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 9:10 am:   Print Post

Well, you wouldn't be a professor if you didn't think laterally?
My next question is do the analogous opaque paints generate transparent glaze because they have the same particle size?
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 8:29 am:   Print Post

I think we got on to the topic of opaque paints when the topic of mud came up. As to why there has been so much discussion on the topic, itís probably me. My mind just rambles on sometimes when Iím talking about something I find interesting. When Iím not interested in a topic my mind gets onto a lot of tangents.
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Rekha
Advanced Member
Username: Rekha

Post Number: 159
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 7:14 am:   Print Post

You answered my question the first time, George. The second is a bonus answer. I am now confused that there is so much discussion about use of opaque pigments when they don't affect the outcome in a 'true' watercolour painting
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 6:59 am:   Print Post

Or, perhaps you were asking what the opaque paints add to a watercolor painting. Opaque paints add a more grounded and earthy feel to the watercolor. But because the opaque paints are often mixed with the transparent paints itís hard to tell where they are used.
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 6:52 am:   Print Post

Good question Rekha, I donít think anyone can tell the difference, and thatís my point. From my experience opaque paints are more difficult to use in mixtures and cause the problems I listed below, but if properly used they work just as well as transparent paints in a watercolor painting.
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Rekha
Advanced Member
Username: Rekha

Post Number: 158
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 1:03 am:   Print Post

When you look at a painting, George, how can you tell whether one has used opaque colours in the painting, apart from the obvious black
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 6:36 pm:   Print Post

Rekha asked me (via e-mail) to expand on the use of opaque colors, so I thought Iíd post it here. My apologies, if you already know this.

All paints are labeled as opaque or transparent on the tube. But, thatís somewhat misleading as all transparency in watercolor is caused by spreading out opaque paint particles (all color pigments are opaque in power form) so that light can pass between them.

If you mix three paints labeled as opaque colors that are all in the same narrow range on the color wheel, say from orange/red to red/orange you should not notice much difference. If, on the other hand, you mix opaque colors from scattered positions around the color wheel you get a neutral color that can have strange effects on purer colors placed next to it. The warning from watercolor teachers, and books, is for beginning students to avoid these mixes as it is difficult to solve the color harmony problems that result. However, these kinds of color harmony problems are not nearly as difficult for the student to deal with when the mixed paints are labeled transparent because it is easier to see the actual color in the transparent mix.

As a student develops his/her eye and can begin to see the subtle colors in mixes the student should begin to expand the number of colors they experiment with, and begin to include the opaques.
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Rekha
Advanced Member
Username: Rekha

Post Number: 157
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 1:50 pm:   Print Post

Ditto, George. My email foonc@btinternet.com
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Marie
Advanced Member
Username: Marie

Post Number: 189
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 1:26 pm:   Print Post

George, can you send me a picture, too? My email address is in my member profile. Thanks!
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Eric
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 1:06 pm:   Print Post

I've also heard "mud" described as what results when you go back in to an area that's not dry and disturb what was applied to the area previously.
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 12:46 pm:   Print Post

Bonnie, right, as your observation proves, a painting can be made from mixtures of 3 or more opaque colors and have no mud in it. We, as a watercolor community, need to reevaluate what we mean by mud.

Eugene, Iíll send it in about an hour, Iím on my way to a meeting right now.
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Eugene
Advanced Member
Username: Eugene

Post Number: 172
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 12:01 pm:   Print Post

GEORGE, you hit it right on the head when you said that mud is created buy the colors around it. A neutral doesn't become mud until it has the wrong colors next to it.
You emailed one of your paintings to me once before. May I see another?
fayendale2@yahoo.com
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Whitewatercolor
Advanced Member
Username: Whitewatercolor

Post Number: 125
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 12:01 pm:   Print Post

George: Beautiful! You stated that you sent a painting that had what most people refer to as mud in it. I think we definitely have a problem here with terminology in our communication. I do not see one bit of what I would refer to as mud in your painting. Your painting is certainly what I would call translucent. With some of your words I find disagreement, with your work, I don't. I believe any disagreement we may have may lie in our application of the terminology. Bonnie
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Whitewatercolor
Advanced Member
Username: Whitewatercolor

Post Number: 121
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 9:59 am:   Print Post

My email address is oakridge@gorge.net. I'd love to see your painting style. I promise to only look at it and then delete it. Thanks George.
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 9:52 am:   Print Post

Bonnie, I donít like posting my paintings on the internet Ė thatís just a part of my personality. However, I made the offer some time ago that anyone who wants to see my paintings can post an e-mail address and Iíll send an e-image of one of my paintings, on the promise that they not post it on the internet.

On the topic of transparency I thought it might be helpful if I added this thought - In watercolor, transparency is caused by spreading out opaque paint particles so that light can pass between them. Itís water control (the major skill in the art of watercolor) that is the primary determinate of the degree of opaqueness or transparency in the resulting color. I sense that in many cases, if we were to use the term ďwater controlĒ in place of transparency it would cause less confusion. I think this is true not just on this page, but in the larger watercolor community as well. The term transparency can sometimes be misunderstood. It can incorrectly suggest that becoming more transparent is a form of perfection in the art of watercolor. The term water control is seldom misunderstood.

Just a thought!
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Whitewatercolor
Advanced Member
Username: Whitewatercolor

Post Number: 120
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 1:58 am:   Print Post

George have you posted any of your work? I think seeing some of your paintings might help me understand your suggestions and comments better. Thanks. Bonnie
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 9:50 pm:   Print Post

Marie, I agree! Iíve found the same thing. Well almost the same thing. I never paint from photos, but rather from memory. My plein air paintings are much cleaner.

I discovered that what we call mud is really just a beautiful neutral with the wrong colors adjacent to it. Take that same mud color and put it in a painting with the right colors adjacent to it and it begins to glow. Getting the colors and values to work together across the entire painting is really one of the most difficult parts of design. In watercolor the failure of a good design looks muddy.

This also explains why I think some of the people who are trapped in the mental rut of thinking watercolor is all about transparency are off the mark. Good watercolor isnít about transparency, itís about good design.

Watercolor teachers make a mistake telling students mud is caused by opaque colors. The student begins to avoid opaque colors from fear of making mud. This can lead to a belief that transparency is the guiding light for watercolor. When this gets taken to an extreme the design possibilities begin to shrink.

What I think teachers should tell students is;

As an inexperienced watercolor artist you should shy away from over mixing watercolor paints, keep mixes to two colors at first, later add a third color, and as you become more advanced mix as many paints as it takes to get the color and value you need for each brushstroke.
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Marie
Advanced Member
Username: Marie

Post Number: 188
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 8:31 pm:   Print Post

I'm just thinking out loud here ....

I was just comparing some of my plein air pieces from last spring with some of the large format pictures I'm doing from photos now. My palette is roughly the same --- raw sienna, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, ultramarine violet, and few other things thrown in for flavor --- in both series. I never had much of a problem with muddiness in the plein air pieces (except for some adventures mixing greens early on), but I am really fighting muddiness on the pieces done from photographs.

I'm beginning to think that, at least for me, controlling muddiness may have more to do with getting the temperature right --- and with being able to observe subtle shifts in temperature --- than with any specific pigment of type of pigment.
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 8:18 pm:   Print Post

Here are some more by Wyeth.

http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/4aa/4aa583.htm
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SZ
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 7:03 pm:   Print Post

Here are some wonderful examples of Wyeth's work

http://www.tfaoi.com/newsm1/n1m153.htm

Somewhere I have a monograph from the Met with details about his painting process, but it isn't handy.
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Garydoc
Intermediate Member
Username: Garydoc

Post Number: 73
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 6:44 pm:   Print Post

One of the things I learned from Joe Miller at last summer's workshop was the use of "pallette mud". I never would have thought of the muddy cr-p on the pallette as a workable intermix, but it can be useful for an otherwise bright and transparent piece of work. It certainly is a 'mouse' compared to the rest of the work.
Gary
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 5:08 pm:   Print Post

I think I read somewhere Andrew Wyeth used a black pigment in his watercolors.

On the topic of mud, I took a workshop with an internationally known watercolor artist who said; ďyou may have heard that three opaque pigments mixed together result in mud.Ē He then gave us an assignment to mix any three pigments and do a painting with it. The point was a good artist can make a good painting with mud. Thatís the point Eugene made too.
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Whitewatercolor
Advanced Member
Username: Whitewatercolor

Post Number: 119
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 4:30 pm:   Print Post

The way I understand it, Andrew Wyeth uses "Mouse" colors. "To complement pretty colors you need unpretty colors--"mouse" colors, the nonbrilliant mixtures, the bit players who support the stars." (pg. 34, "Everything you ever wanted to Know about Watercolor" edited by Marian Appellof) Someone called one of my "mouse" colors in a painting "mud" on this site.

The same book has a good paragraph on transparent or opaque and how to make mud. They describe mud as what you get when you mix opaque pigments together, ie., "mix two and you are flirting with mud, mix three opaque pigments together and the result may be too lifeless to call a watercolor." They also say that transparent colors when mixed together remain transparent. Mud has nothing to do with a particular color and nothing that remains transparent can be called mud. They quote Dobie in the book and state "when Dobie uses an opaque pigment for mixing, however, she combines it with a transparent pigment whenever possible, aiming to avoid the thick blanket built up by two opaques. Occasionally she may use an opaque pigment alone.

And, before someone says "Well, I don't want to paint like Jeanie Dobie." I'd like to point out that I do not quote a book or website because of who wrote it, but because they have more stature in the medium than I do and from my personal experience I consider their words to be valuable.
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Kisha
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 4:10 pm:   Print Post

I agree-- I have tried the quinacridone earth replacements (I love quinacridone rse and violet so they are not included) and found them sickenly bright. I can't use straight q. Gold. It's just too intense. My heart warms to a nice raw sienna or raw umber because they are subtle and allow for suble influences in mixing. Now that I've discover Sennelier earths, I feel doubly that way since they seem to be genuine earths mined from the earth, very subdued. I'm even, for the first time, using yellow ochre becasue it seems no less transparent than the others (in Sennelier). A lot of the other earth brands' siennas , such as Holbein and Daler Rowney specifically,seem more like quinacridones and may very well be, in disguise. I will say that i love Sennelier olive green, which is compounded with pthalo green yellow shade (PG36) and quinacridone gold. I looks like the sap green from winsor newton used to look in the 70's more than it looks like most olive greens. I loved the old W/N sap green and am happy to have found this look alike, made with quinacridone gold.
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George
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 4:02 pm:   Print Post

Iíve experimented with a lot of different combinations of pigments. When I first started in watercolor I wanted only non staining colors because I could lift them when I made a mistake - and I made a lot of mistakes. Many of the earth colors are non staining so I experimented with all of them.

Over time I got to the point where lifting became less of a necessity so I switched to the staining, synthetic organic colors because most of them are bright and very transparent. After experimenting with these colors for some time I realized the paintings they produce have no soul. Theyíre great if you what to paint in bright neon colors. I wanted something more earthy.

So, I returned to the earths but kept a few of the cool synthetic organics because the earths are all on the warm side of the color wheel.
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Kisha
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 2:46 pm:   Print Post

I'm not sure we agree, Eugene, on what constitutes mud. Brown paint that is transparent and vibrant to me is not mud. Mud is one of those things that is hard to describe but I know it when I mix it. It is usually the result of mixing too many colors and though brown or gray is nothing like a nice alive earth pigment. I too like Burt's work and have painting a few paintings in his style to learn what I could.
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Eugene
Advanced Member
Username: Eugene

Post Number: 171
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 2:34 pm:   Print Post

I ADMIRE BURT'S PAINTINGS but I don't want to paint like him! Not everything needs to be bright and vibrant. In many paintings there's a place for dull colors. Andrew Wyeth can do a whole painting using only "mud".
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Kisha
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 1:51 pm:   Print Post

I have that book and read the same thing. It works for him but to my taste his paintings look too much like brightly colored pinatas.
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Whitewatercolor
Advanced Member
Username: Whitewatercolor

Post Number: 118
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 11:59 am:   Print Post

I've never read Don Burt's book, but I would say from my (probably) more limited experience, that your interpretation of his words are consistent with my observations.
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Kisha
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 11:57 am:   Print Post

I want to distinguish between earth tones, which can be achieved by any number of pathways involving mixing primaries and earth pigments--which is what Ms. Dobie is actually railing against. I am thinking of pigments like PBr7--raw and burnt sinnas and umbers, not cobalt or other blues.
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Eric
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 11:50 am:   Print Post

A book called "You Can Paint Vibrant Watercolors" by Dan Burt addresses earth colors.

He says he used to use earth colors (burnt sienna, burnt umber, raw umber, yellow ochre, raw sienna)but his colors were "blah, anemic and muddy."

Burt says since eliminating the earths his colors are now "cleaner, more transparent and much more vibrant. The grays have more sparkle, vitality and color." He shows before and after pictures.
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Whitewatercolor
Advanced Member
Username: Whitewatercolor

Post Number: 117
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 11:41 am:   Print Post

I just read your last post, about burnt umber being cleaner when not mixed. I don't use burnt umber, I'm not sure why, I guess it just gets pushed to the side and has been for years. I've put it on my pallette and it always ends up dried out and washed off, so I finally elimated it altogether. I have found that the specific primaries that are mixed, vary the outcome so much that it is hard to generalize. I'm sure it took me years to find the specific colors that I use interchangeably with QG. Has anyone had experience with mixing a burnt umber that close to the tube, yet clear and translucent? Can it be done? Don't get me wrong, I still use QG, only I use AJ's which is Harvest Wheat--a beautiful color. Sometimes you want the earthiness of the earth tones. It can also add a solidness to solid objects. Bonnie
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Whitewatercolor
Advanced Member
Username: Whitewatercolor

Post Number: 116
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 11:29 am:   Print Post

I have eliminated most earth tones from my paintings. I play around with quinacridone gold because I like the way it disburses and mixes with cobalt blue. I don't know whether cobalt blue is considered a earth tone or not. If it is, I like it also. After studying Jeanie Dobie's paintings and reading her book, I experimented without the earth tones and found that you get beautiful, clear, translucent color with lots of subtle color differences if you eliminate the earth tones. There is clearly a difference between a painting where earth tones are used and where they are not. My painting seems to be more successful when I keep the earth tones to specific spots, don't mix them too much, never use them for glazes over other colors, etc. I have used them to glaze over other colors to achieve color dominance, but the painting becomes dull. I can get the same color range (as QG)with the proper mix of wild Fushia (AJ) or Opera (Holbien)or Permanent Rose (WN) and Aureolin. When I mix the color instead of reaching for the tube, I get more complex variations and cleaner more translucent color. Bonnie
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Kisha
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 11:11 am:   Print Post

I find that umber and sienna colors when mixed from primaries are a lot muddier and less transparent and lively than using pure earth colors from the tube.
I always hear that Burnt Umber can muddy up colors, but to me when used to darken greens, it gives them a warm natural look that contrasts nicely with greens darkened with blues.
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Eugene
Advanced Member
Username: Eugene

Post Number: 170
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 10:20 am:   Print Post

I couldn't paint without earth colors. I haven't switched to the the substitutes because I'm satisfied with the "earths" and see no reason to change.
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Marie
Advanced Member
Username: Marie

Post Number: 187
Registered: 8-2006
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 9:29 am:   Print Post

I *love* 'em. Couldn't live without them. Raw sienna, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, venetian red, raw umber --- I love 'em all.

Here's why:

1) I do mostly figurative work, and yellow ochre or raw sienna gets me reasonably close to a flesh tone without having to spend forever mixing on the palette.

2) I work fast and usually prefer to do most of my mixing on the paper.

3) They handle well wet-in-wet, which is my prefered way of working.

4) They are never garish or artificial-looking.

5) They are slower to get backruns than the synthetic organics.

Of course, I have friends who do beautiful work without ever touching an earth color. So, it really depends on your style.
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Kisha
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 9:20 am:   Print Post

Oops--I should have specified earth PIGMENTS rather than colors. Sorry.
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Kisha
Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, January 15, 2007 - 9:18 am:   Print Post

Certain artists has eschewed the use of earth colors, either in favor of quinacridones such as Quinacridone sienna, burnt orange, and gold, or in favor of mixing them from the saturated palette (ex. violet plus yellow). How heavily do you rely on earths and have you tried to get along without them? How did that work out?

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