Pigment Study of Blues
Let's just get it out of the way. I'm an over-preparer. I don't think I am, but according to my brilliant and patient husband, to whom most things come easily, I overthink and over-prepare. So in light of my upcoming (and first I might add) workshop in Kerrville, I began preparing when I agreed to teach it, back in February! It's in November--not a minute too soon, right? It's given me the fantastic opportunity and the drive to reread everything I've ever learned, and to dive more deeply than I ever have into some areas that I've found newly mysterious or about which I've always had lingering questions.
One of these areas is the temperature relationships and color biases of blue pigments. Another is the effect of different mediums (dry time, how they might dilute the strength of a given pigment, etc.). Lastly, I want to see how the brands I use compare to one another over time. The exercise I did yesterday will (hopefully) show me all this in time.
I probably should have done this on a larger board (this is 10 x 10) and left some blank spots to add future blues I might want to test, but for now, this will do. I looked at Vasari Cobalt and Ultramarine, Gamblin Cobalt and Ultramarine, and Michael Harding Cobalt and Cerulean (a rarely used color for me -- but I'm liking like it). The Ultramarines are across the top so I can compare them easily, the Cerulean and the Cobalts across the bottom.
Along the left side I labeled:
+ Neo Megilp
+ Linseed oil (refined)
I'm new to using Neo Megilp, and for the past couple of years have really used nothing but paint. I've tried Liquin and am not a huge fan due to the quick dry time and vapors, but I included both of those so I'll know how the Neo Megilp compares in dry time and how it affects any gloss of a given paint. I began using Linseed oil, and still do on occasion, but it's rare.
I then set about with a bunch of no. 6 brushes, and put down a sample of each color with the mediums (and white at the end for fun to test relative temperature/bias). I look forward to seeing how the mediums compare each day. A couple of observations already: 1) this morning the Neo Megilp and Linseed were still plenty wet while the Liquin samples were well on their way to drying to touch, and 2) the Vasari paints already have plenty of oil in them (one reason I like them so much) so the added linseed is just too much for these pigments. I'm hoping to see that the Neo Megilp stays wet a good bit longer than Liquin.
The second thing I'm looking at is how the different brands dry, both in length of time and how much gloss they retain (hand in hand with when they actually "dry") and how the brushstrokes hold up both with different mediums and with the paint only.
Lastly, and one of the real reasons I did this study, is that I wanted to see how Cobalt and Ultramarine and Cerulean appear near one another to see their relative temperatures and biases (do they lean more red or more green and which brands do what). I have done extensive digging for information on whether ultramarine is a "warm" blue as Gamblin's site claims, or whether it is cooler (as many more sources tend to agree). I have used it as both, and I am realizing that I, along with many others, have an inherent red bias (see/feel it as warmer than yellow) when on the spectrum, really the most advancing and warm colors are the yellow-oranges. I am now leaning to using Ultramarine as my cool blue again, dropping cobalt (as I pretty much now agree with my friend David Boyd that it works as a lighter value of Ultramarine), and using Cerulean as my warmer blue. If your head is spinning now, it's my fault. Just walk away slowly.....
* I have another way to demonstrate the relative temperatures of Cobalt and Ultramarine that I can post soon, or look up Carol McIntyre's version here. (the squares with cobalt inside and ultramarine out and vice versa are what were demonstrative to me).