Saturday, June 21, 2008

Color Theory: Q & A Part 4 - Pigments

This is a continuation of the Color Theory: Q & A generated by my first Color Theory post.
Q: Are the colors in opaque paint from established substances?
A: Yes, the hues in opaque paints are unique substances called pigments.

For example, cadmium red paint is cadmium powder mixed with paint medium. It is ever so slightly less orange than cadmium red hue, which is a petroleum derived pigment (i.e., a "new" pigment), which contains no cadmium at all. According to Winsor & Newton, cadmium red is more opaque, has better covering power, and is more expensive, while cadmium red hue is brighter, more transparent, and cheaper. This entire answer is essentially paraphrased from endnote 5 to the Introduction of Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay. It's a fun read full of the origin stories of pigments. Along the way you'll read a smattering of color theory and art history, but mostly it's a travelogue around the palette.

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