Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Red and Blue are Not Primary Colors

Red and blue can be mixed and, therefore, are not primary colors. This simple statement is true. Ask a printer if you don't believe me. Printers use the CMYK protocol: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. While we could describe cyan as a blue-green and magenta as a red-violet, they are not mixes of other colors but pure pigments. Black in the CMYK format is used to save money on pigments and to tone down colors versus using their compliments (once again saving money).

When I first read about artists using a CMY palette, I had a hunch that such powerful pigments used together would work for me. I did some research to find out which oil-based pigments I would need. Indeed, the pigments I found are amazing together. I already had phthalo blue and permanent rose on my palette but I had not used them in a limited RYB (red, yellow, blue) or CMY arrangement.

Cyan - Phthalo Blue (PB 15) by Grumbacher

Magenta - Permanent Rose (PV19) by Winsor and Newton

Yellow - Transparent yellow (PY 128) by Winsor and Newton and also Rembrandt (the only two companies who manufacture paints with PY 128 as the sole pigment)

The transparent yellow is so saturated that when tinted out with titanium white, it is brighter than cadmium yellow light or cadmium yellow lemon!

I thought I might need cadmium orange or a cadmium red light (scarlet) but no.

Also, the three pigments mixed together make a very saturated black. I mixed cyan and magenta to make the darkest color first. Then I added transparent yellow which created the darkest black you can imagine.

I completed an entire 12 x 24 painting and love the result. The painting went fast, too. Some folks at Wetcanvas claimed they didn't like the CMY palette as mixing was too laborious. I didn't have that problem though I did mix more on the palette versus applying my paint only directly to the canvas.

The only trouble I ran into was forgetting to constantly add white to my mixes. You see, I had gotten away from white because of its tendency to mute/cool mixtures too much.

I believe I will love the simplicity of using only three colors plus white. I suppose I might add black to my palette if I ever have the need to do so. I tend to paint on the brighter side so I probably won't.

I did some color charts and it was odd to see transparent yellow and permanent rose make a fire engine red. Cyan and magenta make blue. Red, blue and green are the secondaries! I can mix the brightest greens to olive to the darkest emerald or viridian greens. Yet again, no need for a tube green.

Transparent yellow and permanent rose make a true red as seen above.
 Brilliant oranges and scarlet are easy to create.

Phthalo blue and permanent rose make a neutral blue.

Transparent yellow tinted out makes a yellow brighter (and safer) than cad yellow light
or cad yellow lemon.
This one is a keeper!

You all may have seen my tubes of paint laid out in one of my earlier posts.  I think there were 40 or so tubes of acrylic. To me, having all of that glorious color was a lot like using pastels; I would just reach for the right color. I gradually reclaimed my impressionist palette of about 13 colors however. I then whittled down my palette a bit more.

I will try the CMY palette for awhile and see how I like it. One thing is for sure:  transparent yellow will replace cadmium yellow light/cadmium yellow lemon.

See the finished painting below.


Woody Pond, Breezy Day (Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge)
12 x 24, oil on linen panel
Painting knife

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