Sample "Create Your Color" Contest Entry
Plein Air Green
Created by Dan Nelson
Why factory mixed colours have a place on your palette
"Plein Air Green" by Dan Nelson
If an artist is painting a spring or Summer landscape, he or she is likely to pick up a tube of Permanent Green Light, Sap Green, Phthalo Green or Viridian, etc. Each of those colors is SO intense, they need to be heavily mixed with Red or Orange or Burnt Sienna to tone them down. That is the concept behind "Plein Air Green".
When artists first learn to mix colours there is a very high likelihood their masters will restrict their pallet to 6 or 8 colours. Generally it is believed that using single pigment colours for this limited pallet range is best - as the single pigment colours will give the brightest secondary and tertiary mixes - however once the artist moves on and develops their own individual pallet they will find their pallets expanding - some times for particular aspects of their work (i.e. a set of colours for portraits might be quite different to what the same artist will use for landscapes And with a broader pallet comes the requirement for a broader range of colours. Many of these will be "blended pigments" or factory mixed colours - probably the most obvious reason for using a factory mixed colour is convenience and consistency. However there is more to it - Firstly due to the simple fact that during the manufacturing process the pigments can be dispersed evenly and completely a task that may not be totally achievable by hand. Nor can complete dispersion always be safely achieved post-manufacture, without the possibility of adversely effecting the acrylic emulsions.
Also in many cases blends are made from otherwise un-obtainable pigments/colours. There are many pigments that are not used as single pigment colours. There are various reasons for this - some pigment colours are too close to other colours in the spectrum so although slightly different they are not different enough to warrant their own "line" or it might be that they have a wonderful undertone - however the top tone is quite "uninspiring". However the synergy in mixing some of these colours together can result in an amazing and brilliant colour.
For instance the Matisse colour Australian sienna is one which is made up predominantly of a yellow earth pigment that would not normally be used by itself and certainly not purely for a sienna as it is to "yellow" however it is then given a rich gold undertone with a yellow pigment complimented with a small amount of red to give a golden glow - the resulting colour is one that literally could not be achieved by mixing other colours - but of itself is a stunning multi toned colour.
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