Ochre (or ocher)
natural earth of silica and clay, coloured by iron oxide. It may be yellow,
red, or brown and is used as a pigment. Very popular with Paleolithic
artists, using in cave paintings at Lascaux and Altamira.
Oil paint colours
Where pigments are mixed with drying oils, such as linseed, walnut, or
poppyseed. Famous brands of oil paint colours include: Rembrandt,
Winsor and Newton, Gamblin, Old Holland, Williamsburg,
Blick, and Utrecht.
A term which refers to the covering ability of a paint, known as opacity.
Paints that allow no light to pass through are called opaque.
Pantone Matching System (PMS)
Internationally recognized colour coding system of pre-mixed colours,
introduced in the 1960s. Each Pantone colour is identified by a specific
Slab of wood, metal or glass used hy the artist for mixing paint. Also:
figuratively: the range of colours used by the artist. For details of
historical colour palettes, see: Prehistoric
Colour Palette (30,000-10,000 BCE); Egyptian
Colour Palette (c.3,000-1000 BCE); Classical
Antiquity Colour Palette (Ancient Greece & Rome); Renaissance
Colour Palette (c.1300-1600); Eighteenth
Century Colour Palette (Rococo & Neoclassical art); Nineteenth
Century Colour Palette (Impressionist and other painters.)
This is the colour element in paint. Pigments can consist of a wide variety
of ingredients, including minerals, natural/artificial dyestuffs, and
other synthetic compounds. In addition to colour, pigments may provide
paints with other properties including opacity, hardness, and durability.
Pigment Load (Pigment Volume Content: PVC)
This is the amount of pigment in a paint, as compared to the amount of
binder and other ingredients.
Refers to (say) a picture painted in several colours; hence polychromatic.
These are red, blue, and yellow; the colours that can be mixed to produce
other "secondary" colours, but cannot themselves be produced
from mixtures. For example, a mixture of red and blue gives the secondary
colour violet, which is the "complementary colour" of yellow;
a combination of red and yellow yields orange, the complementary of blue;
while mixing yellow with blue gives green, the complementary of red. Note
that one of the optical phenomena concerning colour-relationship is that
a hue will always appear most vibrant when accompanied by its complementary.
Primary colours, others
Primary colours seen when sunlight is separated by a prism are sometimes
known as the spectral colors. These comprise red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, indigo, and violet (ROYGBIV). The primary colors for the
additive colour system are usually limited to red, green, and blue-violet.
The primary colors for the subtractive colour system are cyan,
magenta and yellow.
The equivalent terms "saturation" and "intensity"
describe the strength of a colour with respect to its value or lightness.
Or to put it another way, the intensity of a colour is its degree of purity
or hue-saturation. For example, the colour of a geranium is more intense
(more saturated with its red/orange hue) than that of mahogany.
The colours produced by mixing primary colours: blue + yellow = green;
yellow + red = orange; blue + red = purple.
A dark value of a colour (eg. dark blue), as opposed to a tint, which
is a lighter hue (eg. light blue). Shades of a particular colour are made
by adding black.
The result of mixing a primary and a secondary colour (such as red and
green) or two secondary colours (such as green and orange). The latter,
in particular, results in muddy colours - browns, greys and blacks.
Refers to a colour hue with white added. For example, pink is a tint of
This is a measurement of how effective a quantity of colourant is, in
altering the colour of a material.
Describes the lightness or darkness of a colour, as opposed to the actual
colour (yellow, blue, red, green etc.) itself. It is used to give shape
to form and depth to a picture. Different pigments require different techniques
to obtain lighter/darker variants. For instance, in order to lighten the
tone of ultramarine blue, the painter adds white, whereas to darken lead-tin
yellow he adds a darker tint - but not black, as this makes the yellow
look greenish in colour.
The tonal character or pattern of a painting can be demonstrated by taking
a black & white photograph of it. For example many of Rembrandt's
pictures will appear very dark (low tonal key), in contrast to those of
Impressionist Claude Monet that characteristically will appear quite light
(high tonal key).
A thin scrape of paint which is used to assess pigment qualities over
a white background. Often used by painters to determine how washes or
glazes will look in painting.
The value or brightness of a colour is based on the amount of light emanating
from it. The brighter the colour, the higher its value. Thus, for example,
a Prussian blue emits less light and therefore has less value than (say)
a sky blue.
A colour-based style of art developed by Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione
in contrast to the Florentine design-based style. For a genre which exemplifies
disegno versus colorito, see Venetian
The liquid portion of paint, in which the pigment is dispersed. Usually
consists of binder and thinner.
These traditionally encompass colours like red, orange and yellow, because
they appear warm and evoke images of warm things like the sun, sunshine