Paint Schoodic

We had another successful painting workshop at the Schoodic Institute in beautiful Acadia National Park. Join us in 2018!

Monday, July 21, 2014

My paint list


With the palette I outline below, you can get anywhere you need to go on the color wheel. 
I’ve been using RGH paints for several years. I like them because they’re relatively inexpensive, they have a high pigment load, and they don’t add driers. In addition, they’re made in a small workshop in Colonie, NY.

On Friday I stopped at RGH to talk to them about finalizing a paint list for my students.

Paints are often sold with poetic names like “Naples Yellow” that mean nothing. The real pigment by that name, antimony yellow, is toxic. Alizarin crimson and Indian yellow are both fugitive (meaning they fade). When people buy paints using those old romantic names, they are in fact buying a mixture of pigments that approximate the handling and color of the original pigments.

Colors like cerulean are very expensive, so manufacturers make mixes that approximate them, which are labeled as "hues". But mixes of any kind give you less value and flexibility than buying the straight colors and learning to mix yourself.

Even when manufacturers use the same pigments there can be wide variations in color in the finished product, depending on the pigment load, how finely the pigment is ground, what oil is used for the binder, etc.

I carried my palette box into RGH’s shop and Roger and I spent an hour comparing pigments. This is the palette I am now recommending to all my students, or to anyone else who wants to paint like me:

Burnt sienna
Cadmium orange
Cadmium yellow light
Indian yellow transparent
Ivory black
Mars yellow deep
Prussian blue
Quinacridone magenta
Raw sienna
Titanium white
Ultramarine blue

For all colors except Titanium white, a 37 ml tube is sufficient. For Titanium white a 150 ml tube is necessary. Order them here.

I buy my paints in cans and put them in a plastic pill box but for most painters tubes are fine.
Note that this palette contains neither a red nor a green. I’ve concluded that neither is necessary on the everyday palette. If I were to add them, I’d add chromium oxide green (the color of summer foliage in the northeast) and naphthol red, which approximates cadmium red but doesn’t dry out as fast (or cost as much).

If you want to learn more about pigments, the best source of information is the Handprint website. Although designed for watercolor, its information is true across all media.


Sorry, folks. My workshop in Belfast, ME is sold out. Message me if you want a spot on my waitlist, or information about next year’s programs. Information is available here.

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