Recently, greys have been a little baffling for me. Grey has always been a mix of black and white, but for anyone who has been looking at colour theory, as I have, will discover that the theory says that if you mix complementary colours (those opposite on the colour wheel) you will get a grey.
This is news to me. I’d always considered those colours to be browns, often very useful browns, but the literature says they are greys (or grays if you prefer the traditional American spelling).
When I was a kid we had some friends who were building a house not far from an old quarry. Being kids we played in the quarry which was literally dripping with clay deposits (it was winter, there was rain, and can we say mud?). Little did I know that I was playing with the raw ingredients of the paints I would end up painting with as an adult. There were several different colours and I had the time of my life getting myself coated in them. The quarry is gone now, eaten by housing estates, but it would be fun to go back and look at those colours and wonder.
When I first threw Dioxazine Purple into Google I was very surprised at the lack of information that popped up. I was thinking, hey, this is my favourite purple, a stunning purple beloved by many artists, why isn’t there a chemical breakdown or a hazard report or a history of the chemical? What the heck is dioxazine?
Cadmium is an element and a metal that was discovered in the early 1800s by two German scientists. It wasn’t developed for use as a pigment until the mid 1800s, but has since proven itself to be a strong vibrant and reliable source of yellow through to red pigments.
In the foreground above you can see my Matisse Brilliant Alizarin. In the middle you can see my Golden Alizarin Crimson Hue. The colours are not the same. The equal to Golden in Matisse is the Deep Rose Madder that I have equally fallen in love with. My watercolours by Windsor and Newton have followed the Matisse preference for colour. So which of these is truly Alizarin?