Cranfield has been in conversation with two artists about their ‘go to’ paint mixed colours: Eminent British Artist and broadcaster Georgina Potter and US based painter and pigment enthusiast Jim Fellows. These conversations are fascinating and full of helpful hints and insights.

We asked Georgina what would constitute an ideal palette of foundational colours she would never leave home without. The full conversation can be watched as a film under the ‘discover’ tab but what struck us as refreshingly unusual was Georgina’s high regard for the often maligned home-made hue!

Georgina’s first piece of advice is that an artist need not take all the colours in all the sizes! Like the animals going into the ark two by two, it’s good to have two of each: a cool and a warm of most colours. For example Magenta provides a coolness whilst Cadmium Red Genuine provides its warm alter ego.  Cerulean Blue is a versatile cool blue whereas the warmth can be found in Ultramarine Red Shade. The use of these colours is influenced by the theme especially in landscape painting. A frosty morning will sparkle with Cerulean but be flattened by ultramarine! A sunset uses the warmer reds, oranges and the warm luminosity of something like Kings Blue Deep. The best way to discover the attributes of each is through trial and error!

‘Through trial and error we discover some of our best signature colours! I prefer genuine colours so I can make my own hues. Hues are really essential especially on a larger landscape where the strong pure colours should be reserved for the focal point. The eye cannot cope with a whole scene with uniform punch. It can’t all be ‘wow’! The less intense muted tones of the home made hue are not second best, they allow the pure colour to take central stage. My own go to hue is different every time and is the combination of the paint from my palette which I combine at the end of a day’s painting. I mix this with Titanium White to make my own base grey and as in nature, it changes from mix to mix. This is far more than just meanly recycling (although it is another illustration of the beauty of oil paints). The home bade base grey can be used in any scene with the greys of decay, shadow, cloud and base greys. I keep these base colours (indeed my whole coverable palette) in the fridge or freezer at night to retard drying if I am working for several days on a landscape in warm weather.’

Just try it – you won’t look back!

Conversations with George can be viewed under our Discover tab along with Georgina’s tutorial in how to paint skies.

The same subject of unusual but arresting mixes was shared with US based artists Jim Fellows. With a love of pigments and their potential, Jim experiments by producing his own fascinating hues. Here he explains what can be achieved with Green Oxide of Chrome.

I’’ve been experimenting with  mixtures of Terre Verte and Chromium Oxide Green. You have to very carefully get it right to the point of balance where a single brushstroke explodes into the transparent-versus-opaque phenomenon from the hairs of the brush making the paint thinner and thicker on a single stroke. Once you get that balance it is a phenomenally expressive and character-filled paint that allows all those “single brushstroke” effects . If you brush it out smoothly you’ll get the Terre Verte stain-glaze but with a more solid colour. If you use thick oily strokes you’ll get the ocean or the most beautiful foliage, etc. You can write in it with the other end of the brush and completely remove the paint to reveal the painting underneath as your text.  Perfect Metaphor. With this mix you’ll need to add a bit more chromium oxide to get the glowing and beautiful antique green you see in some of the mid 15th century French altarpieces . That’s the power of the combined “slide out of the way” of the Terre Verte, and the opaque blocking of the Chromium Oxide.’

With passion and insight like this amongst our customers, no wonder we just keep making colour!