In this post I talk about some of the pigments I use. If that’s not of interest to you, feel free to go straight to the new paintings.
If you’re a painter, you probably know that phthalocyanine blue is a powerful synthetic pigment that really packs a punch. I, for one, have always been a little scared of it. I’ve owned a tube of phthalo blue for ages, and it’s still almost full. The little dab of it that I put into one of the wells on my palette has lasted for a few years without needing replenishment. Its strong personality easily overpowers its neighbors, so I usually opt for the gentler blues: ultramarine, cobalt, or cerulean.
Until now, that is. For the first painting in my new series, Gardens, I wanted a strong, bright green that only a mix of phthalo blue and cadmium yellow light could produce. It proved quite satisfactory – and the rest is history. I’ve not only overcome my fear of phthalo, but I’ve developed quite a friendship with it. It can shine with youthful exuberance, but it can also support the other players in the painting without drawing too much attention to itself. Mix it with a little quinacridone gold and add a touch of red (any red will do), and you’ll be rewarded with a rich, dark green that doesn’t shout at you.
You can see phthalo in action in the first of the Gardens paintings (above). Mixed with a little cadmium yellow light to make the bright green vine leaves at the top, and toned down with a touch of red for the hosta leaves in the lower left corner. I’ve used small amounts of phthalo in other mixes throughout the painting.
I’m glad I finally warmed up to phthalo after years of neglecting this blue, which I now think of as pretty cool!
Do you have a particular color you’re afraid to use? Let me know in the comments below.
Don’t forget to check out the first six watercolors in my new series, Gardens