Ten ThousandVisions




Colors I Use

By Michael Divine on October 12th, 2013

Tubes of Paint

To be honest, I use a fairly limited palette. It’s pretty much the same colors over and over and over again. I think though that you’ll find that with †fmost artists. We get used to a color scheme. In some ways, this actually makes my work quite consistent – it all fits together. But that’s not why I chose these colors – or have ultimately gravitated to them.

I find that they give me all the other hues that I want. It’s easy to dull a color but it’s not easy – and actually is impossible – to make a color richer. You can’t add more pigment to a paint. So I’ve always felt that it’s best to start with the most saturated colors and then work out from there. Then, along with the super saturated colors, I have a handful of more muted but still rather rich tones.

I never use the ‘hues’ like Cadmium Orange Hue. They’re cheaper because they aren’t made with as much of the pigment – they use stand-ins for the actual pigmentation minerals. With the hues you also won’t ever get the richness or coverage you might want because they tend to be transparent. To me, when I paint with them, they feel weak. I avoid them.

That said, the colors I paint with most are: 

  • Napthol Crimson
  • Cadmium Red
  • Quniacridone Burnt Orange
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Yellow Orange Azo
  • Deep Turquoise
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Prussian Blue
  • Pthalocyanine Blue – red shade and green shade
  • Dioxanine Purple
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Umber
  • Titanium White
  • Unbleached Titanium White
  • Various metallic paints – gold, copper, etc.

Along with those I also use a fair amount of Golden’s Acrylic Glazing Liquid and water. Why use glazing medium instead of water or water instead of glaze?

Paint is a pigment suspended in a polymer medium. Polymer mediums are basically a bunch of carbon chains creating a plastic like substance. Incidentally, your skin is a bunch of carbon chain polymers as well. In the case of paint, however, the pigment of the paint – the cadmium of cadmium red for instance – is suspended in a polymer base. The glaze adds more medium to the paint – more of the binder which the pigment is suspended in. In essence, it stretches the paint. without breaking down the carbon chains thereby creating a more uniform consistency and texture. However, it doesn’t dry as quickly and, if used in a large area, repeated brushing over it can pick it up. Water, on the other hand, breaks down the carbon chains. At times it can give your paints a ‘washed out’ look and make the colors pool since the pigment will tend to attract itself or to sink into the divots of the canvas. At the same time, it is perfectly useful for blending, etc. In fact, I use it more often than glaze since i”m not always looking to thicken my paint so much as get it to a finer consistency and water does that better than glazing medium. In the end, of course, your own practice with both will help you better understand the usefulness of both and, in time, know when you want one over the other.


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