Earlier this week I spend a few hours playing with my paints (something I haven’t done for ages) in order to investigate two issues in my current palette:
- A replacements for Quinacridone Gold (PO49) since it is no longer available. See more here.
- Alternatives for DS Sap Green as I am not 100% happy with it’s hue or the way that it aggressively disperses in water.
I thought it might be good to through my tests in order so that you can follow my thought process. I hope that this might be helpful if you want to do some similar explorations of your own. So here goes…
To start with I did a few quick gold tests, using ‘Old’ Quin Gold (PO49), ‘New’ Quin Gold (PO48, PY150) and Aussie Red Gold (PY83, PR101. PV19).
My main uses of Quin Gold are:
- on its own as gold,
- with Hansa Yellow Medium for a deep yellow (to match New Gamboge) and
- for greens (mainly with Ultramarine Blue and Indanthrone Blue).
So these are the swatches I painted.
This wasn’t a careful test – my water got dirty half way through – but it was good nough for me to discover a few things:
- New Quin Gold seems a bit flatter especially with the green mixes.
- Aussie Red Gold is a lovely colour (different hue – more red than gold) and mixed nice greens but they are more muted.
- New Quin Gold and Aussie Red Gold disperse more than Old Quin Gold.
Note: Before doing this test I knew that PY 150 – Nickel Azo Yellow is very ‘dispersive’. This is used in the New Quin Gold and also in Sap Green. But it is also good to test these things out for yourself. (Thanks to my friend Laurie Wigham for making me more aware of Nickel Azo.)
But the main takeaway wasn’t on paper. In preparing to do this test, I checked how many tubes of Old Quin Gold I still have – six tubes! As I don’t use much, this collection will last me for years. Therefore, I don’t need to make a change to my personal palette for a while and so I didn’t do any further tests to see how usable the New Quin Gold is. I’m sorry that I don’t have a definitive recommendation for anyone needing to buy a new tube.
If you want to find out more about Quin Gold here are two interesting articles:
Next I wanted to explore some mixed greens. A lot of people (such as Jane Blundell and Shari Blaukopf) rave about using Pthalo Green (assuming blue shade) for mixing greens.
I understand this, but have never put it in my palette as I prefer to have colours that I can use straight out of the pan. This is particularly important because I work very quickly. I discussed this with Suhita Shirodkar (a fast sketcher like me) last year and she said this wasn’t an issue as she found it easy to tone it down – to dirty it in the palette!
So, I did some tests with the Blue Shade and the Yellow Shade of Pthalo Blue (both Daniel Smith). Most of these were too bright!
Note: DS Sap Green contains Pthalo Green and New Quin Gold (PO 48, PY 150, PG 7) but my mixes were much brighter than Sap Green straight out of the tube.
As one of the main purposes for this exploration was to find a mix which ‘stays put’ more that DS Sap Green, I wanted to revisit my dispersion test (dropping pigment onto wet paper). It’s hard to create exactly the same conditions for each test (ie. the same water to pigment ratio in the brush and the same wetness on the paper) so it’s important to observe how quickly the pigment moves through the water at the time.
I also tested some other earth yellows because I want to find a mixed green that behaved ‘better’ than Sap Green.
Next, it was time put some of these mixes into action in a ‘tree’ colour chart. I think that the only way to really get to know a colour mix is to try in a real situation and see how it behaves with my usual brush strokes.
The result was that I decided to focus on a mixed green of Monte Amiata Natural Sienna and Pthalo Green (yellow shade).
The next test involved putting down a blue sky wash (Cerulean Blue Chromium) and then painting a green hill next to it. (If you have done my SketchingNow Watercolour course, you will know all about this test!!!)
Wow! my new mixed green was impressive in the way it doesn’t move much into the blue and particularly in contrast the craziness of the Sap Green. Because my normal practice is ‘working wet’ with watercolour, Sap Green dispersion is something that I am very conscious of all the time, being very intentional with when and how I use it.
So this was another ‘real life’ test which was much more meaningful for me than just doing a few small colour swatches.
I’m not sure that this mix is the perfect answer, but I am going to use in the next few weeks and see how it goes.
I’m also thinking that I should explore these mixes:
- using Pthalo Blue instead of Pthalo Green (hmm, I used to have Pthalo Blue (red shade) in my palette 5 years ago.)
- a mix of Pthalo Green and Transparent Red Oxide.
Oh! there are so many possibilities!
I hope you enjoyed coming on the this little colour journey with me. I would love to hear from you whether you have a green in your palette, or not?