Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Mineral Paints

My Natural Pigments order arrived today! Here's a quick look at the minerals...

The ochers are of smooth consistency, without apparent granulation. The Celadonite was surprisingly green--I expected lighter value and less saturation. The hematite is described as a brown violet and does display reduced saturation; it also seems to have a bit of a red component that settles out. (You may notice that duality with a larger view by clicking on the image). Last, but certainly not least, is Lazurite. A very pure blue with high granulation. I glazed over the other test strips with a light wash. Fascinating, isn't this--materials straight from the earth?

I usually recognize the change of seasons but the recent autumnal equinox slipped by unnoticed. So here it is, Happy Fall! :-)


  1. I am also a fan of Rublev Natural Pigments. I have not tried to make paints myself, but thinking about it. I have problem with some of the colors, French raw siana and Cyprus burn umber in particular. They crack once dry. Do you have any solusion for it? Rublev does not have a Q&A. Thanks! Enjoy reading your blog.


  2. Hi Jin,

    Nice to meet another NP fan! :-)

    I've not experienced cracking, but then again, I don't have many paintings. I have Cyprus Burnt Umber Warm--let me lay out a few tests today. I wonder, how long did it take before the cracking appeared?

    I am a real beginner with all this but wonder perhaps if the problem is related to pigment/medium separation? Might having a paint with too much gum arabic lead to cracking? Just wondering... For instance, with my recent order, the Lemon Ochre displayed great separation--the paint almost just dripping out of the tube. With my paint-making tools, I may squeeze the contents out onto my sheet of glass and mull the mixture back to an even consistency.

    I'd be most interested in seeing an example of the cracking. If you wish, please send me images. My email address is available in the right hand column or right here:

    Here is a link to the NP forums:

    Looking forward to further NP discussions! :-)

    -- John

  3. Hello, John
    Thank you for responding to my message. I am so techno-behind. I need to get a new camara. Regarding the cracking in paint, it is after the paint is dray, it doesn't even stick to the palette. I bought the French raw siana in pan, it had cracks and fell off from the pan. I will check out Rublev's forum. Maybe post a message there.
    Your maple leave turns out beautifully.

  4. Hi Jin,

    I have been working exclusively from tubes with NP watercolors, but did mix some North Carolina minerals into porcelain containers. See this earlier post for an illustration:

    Based on your description, I checked these mixes and found that the left back mix behaves exactly as your pan. A whole chunk of paint lifted off the porcelain as one piece. It and the one to the right both exhibit a lot of cracking. The front mix is still a tiny bit soft to the touch and that mix was done with what I thought was an excessive amount of watercolor medium. Also leaves me to consider how much medium to use if I pour my own pans.

    Not sure how this might relate to your problem but it kind of sounds similar to what I am seeing here.

    Hope this helps and thanks! :-)

    -- John

  5. You could try adding a little glycerine or honey to the colour to stop it from cracking off the pans, bearing in mind that it will affect the mixing and layering properties. But it's common for gouache and watercolour to shrink and crack because the water content evaporates (unlike with oil and acrylic). Usually it reconstitutes just fine with a drop of water.

  6. There you have it, Jin! I am blessed with the presence of fine and giving professionals, an example of such you have just experienced. :-)

  7. Katharine, you may have noticed that I left out malachite. Turns out that by the time my order was fulfilled, that tube was already sold out. Ah well, I did collect five out of six...

  8. Oh! do you know, I was so taken with the celadonite (both colour and name) that I had forgotten malachite was on the original list. I am looking forward to seeing what real ultramarine green looks like; even brighter, I suspect!

  9. With my next order, I'll grab a tube and we'll see. Just today a new Natural Pigments newsletter arrived, with the news of sixteen new pigments. There is more fun to be had! :-)

  10. Thank you both, John and Katharine!Does adding honey and glycerin affect the color? If so, I will live with the cracking. I have a terrible allergic reaction to Winsor and Newton paints, even the pan. It has a chemical smell that makes my sinus swell up. I am so glad that I found Rublev. I don’t get headache any more when I paint (play with paint.) I now use Rublev and some organic Chinese paints. The Chinese paints are not as brilliant in color as Rublev. But it includes the gamboge that Rublev does not have. This yellow paint is collected from the sap of the gamboge tree in southeast Asia. It is poisonous. I have to be careful when my dog is around. --Jin

  11. Hello, Jin,

    It takes very little of honey or glycerine (or even a very little of both) to alter the water-retaining properties of the paint. It shouldn't affect the colour noticeably. It is more likely to affect the way the paint goes onto the paper if used thickly. Even there you might not notice a difference.

    Re quantities, I have mislaid my Ralph Mayer. *bother* However, John has a brand new copy! :-) Whatever Mayer says regarding humectants will see you right.

  12. I see that NP sells glycerin--the catalog picture portrays it as a colorless transparent liquid.

    Now, on to Mr. Mayer:

    Glycerin. Imparts moistness, prevents extreme caking or drying of paints, improves brushability, increases solubility. Excess will cause paint coating to be too soluble; it will pick up too easily.

    Syrup. Acts as plasticizer, contributes smoothness for grinding and painting.

    As an aside, the author relates on in a pinch using ordinary pale-colored gum drops in hot water for a watercolor medium. These candies normally contain gum arabic, sugar, glucose, and glycerin in fairly good proportions. Of course, we would all prefer to pop these into our mouths! :-)

  13. That bit about the gum drops has really cheered me up. Thanks, John! Very good to have the Word of Mayer on the precise properties of the additives, too. He's a reassuring read.

    Happy weekends to you all.

  14. It sure is an awesome book--the reliable up-to-date source.

    Happy weekend, Katharine! :-)