23 July 2006

Complimentary mixing pairs: cadmium red and cadmium green

These two colors neutralize to make a series of useful gray-browns. Cadmium green is not, of course, a pigment. Instead, paint tubes labeled cad green are usually a convenience mixture of cadmium yellow and pthalo blue. I like the version made by Williamsburg. It's a useful yellow green that's strongly chromatic, but not overpowering the way pthalo green is, for example. You can mix it yourself, of course. In the sample above, the red is cadmium red medium, by Doak. In mixing, the cadmium red is stronger than the green, so you need more green than red to make a neutral hue.

Although I have more recently been working with an earth palette, I have used cad red + cad green as the basis for flesh tones in a number of figure paintings. Mixed with white, you can create a string of useful caucasian flesh colors. A little extra green makes for good shadows (depending on the light), while a little more red is good for people who have a tan or are naturally more ruddy. But it's especially good for people with pale complexions, since you can get a good low chroma orange-brown that looks just right for that purpose.

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