Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Subject of Art # 13: The History of Colors, Chapter 4 - Synthetics Rule!

As we saw in last week’s chapter of the History of Colors, the search for a stable, bright and affordable blue pigment led to the discovery (or re-discovery, considering Egyptian Blue) of the process of making synthetic pigments — let’s take a look at a few of the most popular!

Cobalt Blue
Governments in 19th century Europe sometimes took a very active interest in supporting the arts. For example, in 1804 Minister Chaptal of in France appointed several chemists to do research into the creation of new, more permanent colors. One of the results of this project was the discovery that the blue pigment in Smalt—the metal known as Cobalt—could be removed from the glass it was naturally found in when roasted in a furnace with alumina, resulting in a much more intense and very stable pigment which we now know as Cobalt Blue. This bright and very pure blue became an instant hit and found its way into the skies of paintings by Maxfield Parrish, Vincent van Gogh (who described it as a “divine color”) and many others. With the success of Cobalt Blue, scientists altered the formula to produce many different colors from the original metal including yellows, greens and violets.

The very popular and important green pigment known as Viridian was developed by the famous color-maker Pannetier in 1838. This brilliant and lightfast pigment has a bluish undertone and a very fine transparency that makes it excellent for glazing. Viridian was produced by mixing Boric Acid with Potassium Bichromate and then soaking the resulting salt crystals in water, resulting in a fiery, gem-like green color. Viridian quickly replaced most other greens because of its permanence, but also because the other most popular pigment, Emerald Green, was extremely toxic as has been detailed in an earlier chapter.

Cadmium Yellow, a very bright, opaque and permanent pigment, was first synthesized in 1820. The process involved mixing cadmium salts with a sulfide and heating, which would result in the intense yellow hue. Cadmium was, and still is, a very rare metal, so it was fairly expensive to obtain and remains one of the most costly types of pigments even today. In 1919 the process was altered by adding selenium to the formula which resulted in a bright red-orange pigment called Cadmium Red. Variations in the amount of selenium allowed a range of colors from orange to scarlet to red to maroon, all of which are beloved and much-used in contemporary art.

These inorganic synthetic pigments became widely distributed and accepted by the middle of the 19th century in Europe and, together with the invention of pre-packaged paint tubes, contributed directly to the accessibility of art materials to a much wider group of people than at any other time in history. Today, we take for granted that we can have a wide range of colors available at relatively low cost and already pre-mixed with oil, acrylic or watercolor mediums, and it’s easy to forget that it was not that long ago that none of this existed! 

The artists of the time took full advantage of the new colors and it was these technological innovations that allowed the color explorations of Monet, Van Gogh, Seurat, Delaunay and many others to bloom and helped to launch what we now know as the Modern Art movement. The story doesn’t end here though, in the last chapter of our History of Colors, we’ll look at the innovations of the 20th century and the development of new synthetic colors from organic compounds!

What kinds of topics are you interested in learning about? Let us know!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This Week @ BINDERS - September 27-October 3


There’s still time to get the sale price on many October workshops! Interesting in exploring multi-media techniques using watercolor, dyes, soft and oil pastels, acrylics, oils, encaustics and more? Sign up for Surface Design Done Right with Celia Buchanan October 9-10. Later in the month, take Beginning Acrylics with Kay Powell and learn how to put your art into words with Judith Schonbak's Artist Statement, Bio, Web Writing Workshop. Sign up now to get discounts up to 15% off the tuition!

Want more savings? BINDERS’ Back-to-School sale is still going strong, so come into the store to get all the basics at the lowest prices in town!


Monday, September 27:

Guided Open Studio with Kay Powell
10:30am-2pm, Every Monday | Beginner to Intermediate
Fee: $17/per session. Please pay the instructor. No registration necessary.

Contemporary Gold Leaf 1 with Shannon Forester
1-4pm, Mondays, 5 Sessions, Sept.13-Oct.11
Beginners to Intermediate (includes some materials) | Fee: $170

Tuesday, September 28:

Painting-Design and Technique with Charles Y. Walls
1-4pm, Tuesdays, 6 Sessions, Sept.14-Oct.19, | Open to all levels | Fee: $155

Bookmaking 1: Beginning Bookmaking with Anne Elser
1:30-4pm, Tuesdays, 6 sessions, Sept. 7-Oct. 12
Beginning-Intermediate | Fee: $155

Painting-Design and Technique with Charles Y. Walls
6-8:30pm, see details above

Bookmaking 1: Beginning Bookmaking with Anne Elser
6:30-8pm, see details above

Wednesday, September 29:

Acrylic Painting, Impressionist-Style with J.Z.Torre
1-4pm, Wednesdays, 6 Sessions, Sept.15-Oct.20
For Advanced Beginners to Intermediate | Fee: $175

Silk Dye Painting Basics with Hellenne Vermillion
5:30-8:30pm, Wednesdays, 6 Sessions, Sept. 1-Oct. 6
Beginner to Intermediate | Fee: $170

Calligraphy One: Italic with Anne Elser
6-8:30pm, Wednesdays, 6 sessions, Sept. 8-Oct.13
Beginner-Intermediate | Fee: $155

Thursday, September 30:

Mixed Media and Collage Class with Kay Powell
9:30am-12pm, Thursdays, 6 Sessions, Sept. 30-Nov. 11 (no class Nov. 4)
Beginner to Intermediate | Fee: $135
| Sign up now!

Block Printing 1: Beginning Printmaking with Atlanta Printmakers Studio
1-4pm, Thursdays, 4 sessions, Sept. 9-30
Beginner to Intermediate | Fee: $135

Block Printing 1: Beginning Printmaking with Atlanta Printmakers Studio
6-8:30pm, see details above

Watercolor: Mixing, Color Theory & Application with Susan Bradford
6-8:30pm, Thursdays, 6 Sessions, Sept. 2-Oct. 7
Beginner to Intermediate | Fee: $155

Friday, October 1:

Time Travelers with Barbara Bailey
4-5:30pm, Fridays, 6 Sessions, Sept. 10-Oct. 15
For children in Grades 3-5 | materials included | Fee: $125

Saturday, October 2:
No special art events today.

Sunday, October 3:
No special art events today.

Please note: Classes on this schedule are in our Atlanta store unless otherwise indicated. For more information please email or call Eli Pelizza at 404.237.6331 ext. 203.

Check out the full list of our upcoming art classes and art workshops! Sign up for 5 classes, workshops or demos and receive 25% OFF THE SIXTH!

Visit BINDERS website!