“My life … runs back through time and space to the very beginnings of the world and to its utmost limits. In my being I sum up the earthly inheritance and the state of the world at this moment.”
— Simone de Beauvoir
Alas, I have heard many times how watercolorists (and myself) complain about how difficult it is to make good greens, without creating a mud puddle. So I decided to look at all of the yellows that I have at my house, and study them in a methodical fashion.
So my method was to create a rectangle and put a black line with a Sharpie permanent marker and then add a first layer of the colour. Then wait until it is completely dried up and then add a second layer on the top left-hand side of each colour (a dab of paint).
What I am looking for is this:
— That the lightfastness number is 1 (not 2) so that the colour does not fade in time;
— That the colour is completely transparent;
— Ideally the least amount of pigments. One pigment is ideal…
Best cool transparent yellow with good lightfastness:
— My best pick is from Sennelier Primary Yellow, Serie 1, Lightfastness 1, PY74
Best warm transparent yellow with good lightfastness:
— My best pick is Daniel Smith New Gambodge, Series 1, Lightfastness 1, PY97+PY110
AND Daniel Smith, Quinachridone Gold, Series 2, Lightfastness 1, PO49 (DS says that this colour is semi-transparent) but to my eye it seems totally transparent! Maybe that I am getting old -)
Surprisingly, I did not think that New Gambodge would be completely transparent but they were. Both Winter & Newton and Daniel Smith had very good results, however the Lightfastness number for W&N was 2, so I have eliminated it.
The two yellows that were the coolest were W&N Bismuth Yellow and DaVinci Hansa Yellow Light and they were both semi-opaque.
So here is the chart that I created & I left the resolution at 150 ppi so that you could zoom in to see what I am talking about.
If you have not had the chance yet to read Jeanne Dobie’s Making Color Sing and if you are also wondering about your muddy colours, then this is a must-have book. Her chapter 3 on Octanic Colours is fabulous and she explains, in my very condensed explanation, that when you mix two colours together, that you must look at the primary color that you are using and what other color it is made up of (red, yellow or blue). For example, Aureolin Yellow (has blue in it) and Winsor Blue (has yellow in it) therefore these two colors will make great greens as these colors are octanic. Cadmium Red (has yellow in it) and Cadmium Yellow (has red in it) therefore this works! French ultramarine (has red in it) and Alizarin Crimson (has blue) in it, etc.