Friday, June 24, 2016

My Latest Obsession: A New Favorite

Loving me some NEUTRAL TINT!

We all have our "go-to" colors and today I'd like to share with you my new favorite one.  It's called "Neutral Tint" and a dear friend and student of mine, who sadly recently passed away, told me about it a couple years ago.  Only recently did I decide to purchase it and I'm so glad I did.  Thank you, Carolyn! 

All the shadows on the white building
are painted in neutral tint.

When I first began painting I limited myself to only the primary colors - Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue and New Gamboge.  Although I had read a lot about the different properties of the pigments and made charts, I didn't really fully grasp how the paints interacted with water, paper and/or each other.  I needed to experience them in "real life."  Rather than risk mud, I stuck with the primaries, and always mixed my neutrals from these three pigments.

"Big Grapes" - wip
Here I used all three primaries to achieve the
varying shadows on the white surfaces

Gradually I added new colors to my collection, sometimes using Winsor Green and Alizarin Crimson for dark blacks for example.  When I didn't mix all three primaries for shadows on white, I would often use Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine (and still do sometimes).  

Although my palette has expanded, even now when I begin to formulate a color palette for a painting I think in terms of the primaries, plotting out my attack.  

"Backyard Sunlight"
French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna with a little New Gamboge
were the chosen colors for my shadows in this painting

Generally with regards to neutrals, I have always had a bias against using them straight out of the tube, always preferring to mix mine as I feel you achieve much more depth through mixing.  For example I don't own any type of black.  

I will sometimes use Payne's Gray, but very cautiously, always mixing it with some kind of blue.  I feel that neutrals out of the tube tend to be flat and dead.  (Ouch . . . that sounded harsh!) 

And when I teach, I really frown upon neutrals . . . at least for beginners.  They can be "lazy" colors -- easy choices that often bring down a painting, rather than lifting it up.  I think it's very important for students to REALLY understand color through a limited palette.  It's less frustrating and their use yields more successful results.  

One of my notebooks where I work out my mixtures and color palette.

I also encourage charts -- I use them -- but in the context of specific paintings.  I "try out" mixtures and take notes in a notebook before using them in a painting.  Because there is an immediate purpose and the information is limited I learn it better.  

HOWEVER . . . with all that being said . . .  along came Neutral Tint!  It's quite transparent and just plain lovely.  I haven't read up on it, but in my experience, I can use it straight out of the tube and to me, it doesn't appear flat, but remains interesting, appearing as if two pigments are mingling on the page.  I like that I can use it on large areas or where I have lots of shadows to paint and not worry that I won't be able to mix enough paint to cover the area and remain consistent when necessary.  I'm still cautious though.  It seems to stain, so I can't lift it and must be careful with my values.  Those of you who follow my blog know my struggles with value!  And I still will often mix it to alter its temperature when needed.  I guess I still believe that mixing neutrals is probably the BEST method, but in terms of a more "fool-proof" tool, this fool LOVES her Neutral Tint!

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you found this post helpful.  Feel free to share some of your favorite pigments, I'd love to hear about them.


  1. I reason the same way you do in regards to mixing my own neutrals. You have sold me on this one, thank you! Great post!

  2. Neutral tint was praised at a workshop I just finished. Wish I lived closer for your workshops!


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