White Cow

Ebay White Cow 6

I paint almost everyday and have auctions going on Ebay. It’s been a wonderful way to share work.

Click here if you are interested in knowing more.


The Baffling Attributes of White Paints

There are several versions of white paints and their attributes can be a bit confounding. Warm, cool, tinted, leaded, non-leaded…..How does one choose?

Let’s start with the reason most painters use white and what it does. Simply, most painters use white to lighten a color’s value. It’s not the only way to do it, and not necessarily the best way to do it, but it is the most direct and basic method. It also will dull and cool the color you want to lighten because white is actually the lightest version of grey.

That being said, here are some of the properties of whites.

Titanium White is the most opaque and is non-toxic. Some see it as a replacement for Lead White. To my eye Titanium White is the coolest white.

Zinc White is the least opaque, slow drying, and creamy. This, too, has been used to replace Lead White. To my eye it is a warmer white.

Some companies make whites using a combination of both Titanium and Zinc in the hopes of getting the best of both. Jack Richeson’s Shiva line of paints uses both whites in their Titanium White and Ultra White though I’m pretty sure the ratios of the two colors are different for each color as they look and interact differently with paint hues.

To my eye Lead White is the the cleanest of the whites and the warmest. It is also far and away the most expensive. It handles very differently than other whites in that it’s ‘ropy’. It’s more fluid. Think of the Rembrandt ‘drippiness’ in some of his paintings.

Cremnitz White is also a leaded white, as is Flake White.

I wanted to visually see the difference of each of the whites and then see how they reacted with Jack Richeson Shiva paint. I will be writing another blog on Shiva, but for now let’s focus on this.

Below you can see the whites and the companies I used. JRS is Jack Richeson Shiva, W/N is Windsor Newton, and M. Hard is Michael Harding. I noted the pigments of each of the paints as well. The only one not listed is Michael Harding, but it is a PW1, the same as W/N Cremnitz.

White the whites do not show up well at all in the photo below, you an see how they are interacting with each of the colors I used. For each hue I took the color to about its middle value using each of the different whites. To my eye, Lead White allowed the color to maintain its hue the best. You can see that there is much more integrity in the colors all the way down the line especially when compared to the Titanium Whites. It also dried the fastest and glossiest. Remember when I said that white will dull and cool a color? It’s most obvious in the Titanium band.


The next whites that allowed the integrity of the colors to stay truer were W/N Cremnitz, and that makes sense as it is also a Lead White, and JRS Zinc White. In my tests, even in the violets the color stayed truer though Zinc has a warm bias to it which I thought might have dulled the violets due to its creamy/yellow/warm bias. In fact, there is a glow that is maintained, especially in the JRS Ultra White. Cremnitz did not dry glossy which makes me wonder what else might be in the M. Harding Stack Lead White?


Finally, I want to mention Gamblin’s Warm and Cool whites. These whites are made using Titanium and Zinc as the base and then adding other colors to tint the white. Just as an FYI, you can do this yourself with the colors on your palette.

I hope this helps. Let me know what your tests show!

Analogous Colors: Ahhhh……Harmony


Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work using limited palettes. When you use a limited palette there is always harmony as all the colors work with all the other colors.
I just posted a video on YouTube on an analogous palette, which is another form of a limited palette, using a section of blue. Before I post it at the end of this post I want to talk a bit about analogous colors and a color wheel that helps you with some of the color choices.

An analogous palette is a set of colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. The colors work well because they are all related to each other so they are naturally pleasing to the eye.

They can be any sets of colors, yellow-orange, orange, orange-red, or red, red-purple, purple, purple-blue. You want to have both a minimum and maximum number, so a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5, with one color dominating. In the painting and video below, green will be the dominant color though I used blues plus yellow to make the greens.
If you only use analogous colors, plus white and possibly black), you will have a mostly monochromatic work. That can be quite lovely, but if you add a complimentary color you will be able to dull down the main colors and still have the neutral colors be colorful. Black will make the colors look kind of dingy but a compliment will keep both colors lively.

You can add to this mix discordant colors. These are colors that ‘clash’ with the main colors but also add a bit of pop. To help me with choosing colors I use a Color Harmony Wheel or an Analogous Color Wheel

color harmony  In this wheel the analogous colors are blues and purples, the compliment is yellow, and the discords are green and red.

In the painting above, the analogous colors are in the blue to blue green range, the compliment is a red, and the discords are violet and yellow-orange.

I use the compliment to dull down the colors so when I put a more chromatic version of the color in it will shine. The discords help to make the work more visually interesting. You can see bits of violet in the shadow side of the apple and the orange-yellow in the stem. You don’t need or want a lot of the discord, but just enough to make it interesting.

You can click here to see the 2 minute YouTube video of the painting from start to finish.


Colors: What’s Not to Love?!!

I was so excited to read this email from Gamblin and wanted to share it. So when I emailed Gamblin, Scott Gellatly, Product Manager for Gamblin, kindly gave me permission to reprint it here. Some of these colors are already on my palette, but I will definitely be adding some of these others. And when, at the bottom of their Notes they say, “contact us if (they) can assist you”, they mean it!

New Year Color Notes
You can probably guess our 10 most popular colors. Most likely, several of them are part of your basic palette.
There are many reasons that Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine Blue, and of course Titanium White are so valuable and therefore chosen so often. This newsletter is not about the “mega-stars” of the artist’s palette, it is about a few colors I feel could use more recognition.
Perylene Red
Perylene Red
It seems like I have spent my whole paint-making career showing artists alternatives to Alizarin Crimson. First, the crusade was to help artists find our Alizarin Permanent, which has a higher lightfastness. And now I would like to highlight Perylene.
Yes, I know its name does not playfully roll off the tongue the way Alizarin does, and perhaps its hard to figure out how to pronounce it correctly (pera-leen). But jeez, it is beautiful. It’s transparency has fire inside; add a touch of black and it smolders with sophisticated sexiness.
Transparent Earths: Orange, Yellow, Red
Our line of Transparent Earth Colors are quite beautiful and of incredible value because of their glowing transparency.
In contrast to the natural earth colors, the Transparent Earths are synthetic iron oxide pigments that are made solely to be transparent. So if you want an earth color that will give the warm transparent glow that you see in a Rembrandt, a Transparent Earth will get it done.

Detail: Rembrandt, Self-portrait as Zeuxis Laughing

Cobalt Green
Cobalt Green
The family of cobalt based colors is as permanent as an artist’s color can get. Yet Cobalt Green is the least chosen of the whole group. But it has certain uses that make it invaluable:
  • in dry country landscapes where the greens are very muted, such as in the American SW
  • in abstract painting as a green that has a beautiful restrained character
  • in portrait painting where the translucent flesh tones have a cool under-painting as in the Italian Renaissance

Detail: Orajio Gentileschi, Lot & His Daughters

Manganese Blue Hue
Manganese Blue Hue
Ultramarine, Phthalo, Cobalt, Cerulean, Prussian: is this close to the order of hierarchy of blues in your use of color?
My recommendation: no matter what blue you put first on your palette, Manganese Blue Hue should be second. Why? Simply because it is the blue that is the coolest in the spectrum of blue. Most other blues are warm blues or middle blues. And unlike Cerulean Blue it is very reasonable in price.
Lay a stroke of MBH next to one of Ultramarine Blue and you might for a second mistake the Ultramarine for a violet. I’ve always thought of Manganese Blue as a breath of fresh air, so clean in color, so light in spirit. It is always on my palette.

Karen Ann Myers calls Asphaltum her skin tone “secret weapon”
Sap Green and Asphaltum
One challenge in oil painting has to do with darks. Make a dark too opaque and those sections of the painting can look lifeless. But by keeping darks somewhat transparent they never seem “heavy.”
Is the dark you need “warm” or “cool”? If “cool” is the answer, then Sap Green is perfect for this purpose. An important use of Sap Green is painting the deep dark areas often found in landscape paintings.

Sap Green

If on the other hand you need a warm transparent dark, then Asphaltum will do the job nicely. We originally made this as a custom color for Nathan Oliveira in the mid 90’s. He needed the emotional energy of real asphaltum but wanted a material that would age well. And today, artists like Karen Ann Myers are finding their own special uses for our Asphaltum.
Any White but Titanium
Last but certainly not least in importance I want to discuss white.
With Warm White and Cool White, we now make 9 different white oil colors. Each one has a unique set of qualities. Titanium White should be your choice only if you need a very high tinting strength opaque white, that is warm in color and moderately fast drying and a little bit stiff.
You might be best served by a whiter white, or a softer creamier white, or a more transparent white, or even a super stiff white… Below is our chart of whites to assist in choosing the white that best supports your painting.
If this idea is intriguing to you, please consult our newsletter “Getting the White Right.”
Please contact us if we can assist you in any way.
Have a great New Year of painting.

Follow Up on Drying Time of Cobra Water Soluble Oil Paints

Lavender Fields small

After 12 solid days of painting in Scotland (sometime 2 paintings/day) I can start to give an update on the drying time of Cobra Water Soluble Oil Paints. First, they DRIED! I think one of the keys was that the room we kept our gear in, including wet paintings, was very, very warm as it was a sunroom. Honestly, I think even in winter this room would allow one to grow oranges in this haven of Scottish warmth. We were lucky in that the whole time we were painting it was sunny. When  I was in warm and sunny southern France, I experienced the same thing. I also changed the material I was painting on from Yes, All Media Primed Canvas to Fredrix Kent oil primed linen.

After a few hours of painting I did find that need to switch my brushes out. I had brought a combination of bristle and bristle with synthetic (Rosemary Classic) and mongoose. After several hours of painting and using water for cleaning my brushes I was finding that the Rosemary Classic hog/synthetics were splaying a bit and not holding a firm edge. I bought inexpensive synthetics, which mimic sables, and have found they worked really well.

I could lay on a light scrub and the paint dried very, very fast allowing me to start building color without picking up the color of the toned canvas. This was a big plus for me as I was toning in the field. I would thinly tone my canvas with paint and water and then set up the rest of my colors while my canvas was drying.

I found that, especially in warm weather, the thinned paint would dry pretty quickly on my palette but I could re-wet it to continue using it. The piles of color, however, would stay wet just as long as my traditional oils did. I also found that when I scraped up my paint at the end of a session and put it off to the side, they were still quite workable the next day.

One thing I really love about Cobra Water Soluble paint is that because I’m not using OMS, I am not getting it on my skin. I don’t like wearing gloves so invariably my hands would have some turp on them. Strangely, if I was spending all day in my studio I could even feel the oil mixture in my mouth. This has not happened at all with Cobra.

If you are using water soluble paints I’m interested in hearing what your experience has been. Let me know!

Christ on the Cross small          

“Christ on the Cross” painted at a church in Castillon du Gard in southern France

Want to see more of my work? www.etuckerart.com

Water and Oil DO Mix: Cobra Water Soluble Oil Paints

I’m traveling most of the summer to teach and paint and I didn’t want to mess with Odorless Mineral Spirits (OMS). When I got an email from Royal Talens about their COBRA Water Soluble Oil Paints I thought I would give them a go and see what would happen. I placed an order with Jerry’s Artarama buying a warm and cool each of yellow, red, and blue, plus viridian, titanium white, and sienna. I also bought a burnt umber and black from Holbein’s water soluble Duo.

Tubes of Royal Talens Cobra

Cobra comes in 2 ranges: Professional and Student. While the tubes look very similar, the black cap indicates the professional grade and an orange cap the student grade. I only bought the black cap, but a friend gave me some samples of the student grade which included a Yellow Ochre which you can see in the photo.

Both professional and student grades of paint carry the exact same pigment. And according to Royal Talens, this is true for all brands of paint, whether it be water soluble, or traditional. So what is the difference?? The difference between a professional tube and a student grade tube is the amount of oil and filler used. Professional grades have a higher pigment ratio, which generally translates to more bang for your dollar.

What makes an oil paint water soluble? An emulsifier is added and blended in to the carrier mixture (oils and fillers) that allows water to be used instead of OMS to thin paint and clean brushes. An emulsifier is used when you want to mix oil and water, which normally don’t mix, allowing the particles to stay in suspension, and therefore to stay mixed. Water Soluble Paints are oil paints. They are intended to work exactly the same as a traditional tube whether you are glazing, working alla prima, or coming back later work on a piece. In fact, you can mix up to 30% of water soluble with traditional oils without losing the water soluble properties. Above 30% you will need OMS or something similar to clean up with. So let’s say you are using water soluble oils and you run out of a water soluble color and only have traditional oils available. You can absolutely use your traditional oils. But you may need to use OMS instead of water depending on how much traditional oils you end up using. Additionally, the rule of fat over lean applies to Water Soluble just as it does to traditional oil paint.

Next up…….Testing the colors