The holy grail of oil paints.... Primary Blue?
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Thread: The holy grail of oil paints.... Primary Blue?

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    The holy grail of oil paints.... Primary Blue?

    hello, I was looking at my "quiller wheel", wanting to buy some more oil paints


    it lists primary blue as being "Phthalocynine"
    I found this interesting as cobalt blue was one of the most expensive colors at the store, and it isn't even primary according to my wheel.

    So I searched ebay and couldn't find one result..

    and wikipedia describes the pigment as "greenish-blue"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phthalocyanine_Blue_BN

    so what is primary blue? and where do I find it? (preferably winsor & newton brand)

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    "Primary color" is a problematic concept, and not anywhere as absolute and defined as most people think.
    Pthalo blue is the pigment in most cyan printing inks. For a palette that mimics four-color printing, you can use it with a quinacridone red or rose and cadmium or hansa yellow light. This will give you a wider gamut than other limited palettes, but don't make the mistake of thinking its any "better" or "truer."
    Utramarine is a close pigment match to the blue light of the additive RGB primaries and to the blue of opponent systems like LAB. But pigments mix very differently than light.
    Cobalt blue is lighter and slightly greener than ultramarine, but very close in hue. The cost of pigments depends on their chemical makeup, nothing more. Ultramarine went from the most expensive pigment used by artists to one of the cheapest when it was synthesized in the 19th century. The cost of cobalt-based pigments has skyrocketed in the last 25 years as the use of cobalt for industrial application like batteries has increased, along with tighter environmental controls on their manufacture.
    With pthalo blue (green biased) and ultramarine (purple biased) you can mix pretty much all the high chroma blues available in paint. Adding other blues is a matter of convenience and personal taste.


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    I usually carry Cobalt, Prussian and Cerulean for my blues.

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    2100, I see from the photo in your blog that you're using Winton paints. The cobalt is probably ultramarine and the cerulean is probably pthalo+white.


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    Yeah, I use Ultramarine and Kings Blue Deep. I used to use cerulean and cobalt, but felt they were too redundant

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    Elwell, I'm actually in the process of changing over from student to artist grade paints (as I finish using up the student-grade ones). What brands would you recommend?

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    I don't know how easy they are to find, but I just was introduced to a new brand called M. Graham & co. and they are an incredible value. Super affordable (at least in the US, no import fees) and really nice to work with (they're made from walnut oil). Worth checking out.

    Also, Williamsburg, Winsor & Newton, and (if you have the budget) Old Holland are good ones

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    I also suggest Williamsburg, they make some fantastic earth tones. Schminke and Sennelier are good choices as well.

    Dave: You can use the walnut oil to clean up and then rinse the residue with mild detergent and water. I've use the M Graham products for years and I really like them.

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    Williamsburg makes great earth tones, I love them

    I've been using ultramarine, cerulean, and virdian (with black and white) for nearly all blues for the last while. I don't miss cobalt.

    EDIT: I think it's worth mentioning that color in a painting is immensely relative-- you can shift the palette all over the chromatic range depending on what you're going for... so having a "primary" blue is kind of... a misleading goal. For studies or pure academic investigation (such as painting in print colors, as mentioned), there is some value in the synthetic range I guess. But look at the range available with the various 3-color palettes out there and you'll see what I mean by "relative".

    anyway...

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    but couldn't i define primary as a blue that contains no red, and no yellow? (and no white)? surely there must be something

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    I would worry less about that specific hue, and more about making what you do have work within your paintings, honestly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EightArms View Post
    I would worry less about that specific hue, and more about making what you do have work within your paintings, honestly.
    but if you don't have a primary, you simply have a chunk of color cut off the spectrum of colors that are available to you

    for a while I only had ultramarine blue.. maybe that was a bit too foolish/extreme of an example, but I didn't realize what I was missing until I had to paint a comforting blue ocean, and could simply not get the color I needed until I bought some manganese blue

    but regardless, perhaps the biggest reason to oil paint vs other media is the brilliant intensities in hue and saturation

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    Quote Originally Posted by Everything Inane View Post
    but if you don't have a primary, you simply have a chunk of color cut off the spectrum of colors that are available to you
    What people are trying to tell you is that there is no such thing as a primary color. The theoretical idea behind primaries is a set of colors from which all other colors could be mixed. This is strictly the realm of theory and has very little truth when you actually start mixing paints.
    In the real world, there are only pigments-that is, chemicals that interract with each other in a variety of different ways to produce a much more limited color range than what the theory predicts.
    Learn about pigments if you want to be a painter, not about color wheels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Everything Inane View Post
    but couldn't i define primary as a blue that contains no red, and no yellow? (and no white)? surely there must be something
    You can define it however you want, but you won't find any real-world pigments (or phosphors) that fit that definition. Everything is an approximation at best. The point is, there's no reason to limit yourself to just one blue (or any other hue) when you're dealing with paint, and if you do, it should be with the knowledge that you're going to be limiting the amount of color space you can reach. Different pigments have different characteristics, and should be used for their strengths.

    http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color6.html

    http://www.huevaluechroma.com/

    Last edited by Elwell; March 27th, 2009 at 04:34 PM.

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    alright.. well, thanks for the replies, I'll try to figure this all out, it's still a little unclear. I am looking at a few of your websites and can see that you're making some very good color use in some paintings.

    I'll try to get my new paintings up, when I stop being lazy, to show you where I'm at. color is something I really hadn't started to think much about until the last few paintings.


    so do you guys consider titanium white to be a good lightening white.. like.. one that preserves color? when might I want to use other whites...? zinc white.. etc..

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    Titanium is a good covering white, very opaque. Zinc is more transparent and slightly cooler. (well, the stuff I have is.).

    A mix of the two is a good compromise for me.

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    Titanium/zinc whites are both a cooler, 'bluer' white than say... a flake white. Easy workaround is a touch of yellow ochre or cad. yellow. In mixtures the color you're using is going to have more of an effect on temperature than the white you're using anyway-- but for highlights it does make a difference.

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    Excelent topic, Thankyou guys!



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