Colorful Fridays–The Yellows

swamp sen close up

“Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.” Pablo Picasso

Colorful Fridays has reached a turning point where the majority of single colors have been covered.  Colorful Fridays will begin color mixes after recapping the colors we have covered.  Here are the yellows:

Healthy Love Inspiring Yellow

Misunderstood Mispronounced Exploding Yellow

Red-less Monkey Yellow

Disgustingly Beautiful Yellow

Sunset Yellow

  • Cadmium Yellow is covered under the reds
  • If I have missed a yellow you would like to see, let me know
  • Everyone probably has a favorite yellow.  Mine are Naples and Indian Yellow

Colorful Fridays–Misunderstood, Mispronounced Exploding Yellow

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“What a horrible thing yellow is.”  Edgar Degas (from

Few paints are as controversial as the much-maligned yellow known as Aureolin.  Artists either love it or hate it.  Aureolin will turn a greenish brown eventually but not everyone believes this is a bad thing.  This greenish brown can be quite useful in many mixes, especially in recreating the colors of nature.  Aureolin is never a substitute for the more brilliant yellows of Lemon or Cadmium.  Perhaps therein lies the controversy.  Expectations to be something it’s not, lead some to shun this highly transparent yellow.

Aureolin is also known as cobalt yellow and can be very expensive.  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston states Aureolin is “composed of cobaltinitrite.”  The MFA also says Aureolin was “discovered by N.W. Fisher in Germany in 1848.”  It began use as an artist’s pigment in 1852.  Aureolin was first sold in the Untied States in 1861.  For more information see the MFA’s website at the link.  Aureolin is most valuable as a glazing color as it has a high transparency rating.  It can be quite useful in botanical painting.

The fade to brown character of Aureolin has led one artist to post a dire warning stating in no uncertain terms that Aureolin should never be used by any artist, at any time.  The warning also states tubes of Aureolin could “explode.”  Verification of this claim was not available from other sources.  It seems a bit over the top to think any reputable manufacturer would knowingly sell exploding paint.  However, caution is advised.

If unconcerned about explosions in the studio or high expectations of brilliant yellow from a greenish brown yellow, then Aureolin can be highly useful.  The fading to greenish brown of Aureolin is less acute in oil than watercolors.   Before you rush out to buy a new tube of Aureolin, check out the Talking Dictionary’s pronunciation.  That way, you will be understood correctly when you call to report the exploding tubes of paint in your studio. For some reason, the tube I’ve had for years has never exploded.  Oh well, one can always hope.

Check out how these artists make use of Aureolin:

If you would like to name your horse, Aureolin, too late, it has already been done:

I wonder if announcers say the horse’s name correctly?  Aureolin Gulf may be an exploding horse.

Colorful Fridays–Fruity Green

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“Are you green and growing, or ripe and rotting?” Ray Kroc (from Brainyquote)

Many painters rely on Hooker’s Green for the precise replication of the trees of the forest and the grass of the fields but its origins are with the botanical artist renowned for his fruit depictions, William Hooker (1779-1832).  Hooker began mixing colors to get the precise bluish green of apples and other fruits of a green variety.  He shared his green mixture with his contemporary, John Sell Cotman, noted watercolorist and namesake of the Cotman brand of watercolors.  Hooker’s Green has continued to be a mainstay in the paintbox of watercolorists and botanical painters to this day though oil painters enjoy its use, as well.

William Hooker was a botanical artist working for the Horticultural Society of London, when he developed his green, mixing Prussian Blue and gamboge.  Gamboge proved to be fugitive in the mix leading latter artists to prefer the substitution of Aureolin or Yellow Oxide.  For those artists who prefer to mix their own Hooker’s Green, the Prussian Blue is frequently exchanged for Phthalo Blue and mixed with Aureolin or Yellow Oxide for better similarity with the tube version.  Hooker’s Green is a transparent green making it a great choice in the layers of washes and glazes of botanical painting.

William Hooker, botanical artist of the Horticultural Society of London is frequently confused with William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865), botanist and former director of Great Britain’s famed Kew Gardens.  Though the two William Hookers were both noted in the world of botany around the same time period, they are not related.   William Jackson Hooker was a professor of botany before taking the position of director of Kew Gardens.  William Hooker, studied scientific illustration under Francis Bauer before serving as official illustrator to the Horticultural Society of London, (now the Royal Horticultural Society).

Painting fruits, trees, leaves, and grasses is a breeze when adding Hooker’s Green in some form to your palette. Hooker’s Green is the green of growing things.  Whether mixing your own or using the tube variety, today’s versions of Hooker’s Green have a better light-fastness than the original. However, when discussing the inventor of this particular paint color, be sure not to mix up your Hookers.  Not all Hookers are the same.

For more on botanical gardens and botanical painting follow these links:

 The Society of Botanical Artists

 The American Association of Botanical Artists

 The Royal Horticultural Society

Kew Gardens

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