[Scriptoris] Whitework and Other Questions

Elaine Crittenden letebts at earthlink.net
Wed Sep 17 09:26:43 PDT 2003

NUALA: Obviously, the colors I have
> mixed are somewhat brighter than the color plates I have.  I realize that
> the colors in the Book are faded; however, is this what all of you do
> when painting these?

LETE: Actually, many colors will lighten upon drying. I never mix a matching
color and test "wet" to "dry". I hit the sample on the test sheet (on the
same kind of paper as the "real" work) with air from a hair dryer to dry it
quickly and then check "dry" to "dry."

NUALA:...upon reviewing the color plates I have, none of the
> colors seem true primary colors.  They all seem "grayed" or with "earthy"
> overtones to the colors.  Even taking into account the fading over
> several hundred years, it looks (to me) that using true primary colors is
> not a "match" for the originals.  So, I want to know what y'all do when
> painting these types of scrolls.  Could anyone enlighten me?

LETE:If you want to "muddy" a color, use tiny bits of its opposite on the
color wheel: red+green, yellow+purple, blue+orange.
Keep in mind some colors lean toward one of the primaries, so you will have
to compensate with "leaning" to the other side of the muddying color,
example: Alizarin crimson (a bluish red) + a yellowish green. Test: What
opposite would you mix with the yellowish red Cadmium Red Light?
NUALA: Also, when you want to "darken" a primary color, do you add a brown
or a
> black to the primary?  What, in your experience, gives the best result?

LETE: Depends on the black: Ivory is a yellowish black ("warm"), Lamp black
is a bluish black ("cool"), "Jet" (Winsor-Newton gouache) is a neutral
black. If you want to control a black to go warm or cool as you like, mix
Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna.
More Prussian and the black will go cool, more Burnt Sienna and the black
will go warm.

Be careful of the mixing of whites. You always want to use the highest
"Permanence" rating  of gouache (A, AA, etc. in W-N gouache). Here's a hint.
There is a problem in mixing "Permanent White" with other high rated
permanent colors. It may chemically take the mixture down in permanence.
Zinc White is the one to use in mixing.

Just a jargon note: "Permanent" in gouache and ink does *not* mean
"waterproof". It means the color probably won't fade in sunlight or under
flourescent lights. "Fading" colors, in an artist's jargon, are called
"fugitive" colors.
NUALA: When shading on a scroll, typically, how many colors do you mix?  It
> seems to me that if I mix two, I really needed three and that if I mix
> three, I really needed four.  How do you address this problem?

LETE: Sometimes, you can give the appearance of having gone darker without
adding a black or brown--Shadow: Alizarin Red, Main color: Cadmium Red
Medium, High light: Cadmium Red Light.

I have a wonderful color wheel that is an invaluable quick reference. I am
not sure if it's still manufactured. You might call a professional artist's
supply and check. I'd be surprised if it were at Michael's or MJ's. Asel in
Dallas would be my choice. If there's a large college nearby, the bookstore
might have one, or a similar product.

Mine is put out by M. Grumbacher (Cat. No. B 420) called "Color Computer"
which has the color wheel primaries, secondaries and Intermediates (mixtures
of those adjacents). [Note: mixtures of Primaries and Secondaries do *not*
give "Tertiaries."] Each color is also shown in windows giving the hue of
the choice of the wheel color with the each of the following additions:
white, black, red, blue, and yellow. On the back is a full disclosure of
Color Harmonies (hue): Analagous (with the Key Color/Hue noted) in a Tint
(lightened), the Pure Color, and two Low Intensities (deepened). The back
also provides Triadic, Split, and Direct Color combinations in all the
previous tint/pure/low intensity permutations.

Then again, I have made my own versions of the thing, using tube gouache and
mixing and mixing and mixing just three colors, white and black. A bitch to
do, but I learned a lot, making lots of them and varying the three colors.

You might want to make your own wheel with 12 arcs of color boxes on the
outside and progressing toward the center with the added colors I mentioned
on the front of my manufactured chart.

Punch and bind them in a ring binder for future reference. You won't have to
"reinvent the wheel" (snigger, snigger) again...

Hope this helps..
> Thanks for your help.
> Nuala (who is still stunned to have a Thistle for Illumination)

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