Have you wondered how to mix a range of warm and cool yellows without using colors with heavy metals in them like cadmium?
In this video I’ll show you how to do exactly that with just Indian Yellow and Titanium White.
A number of you have asked questions about what yellow I use since I don’t use cadmiums. My basic double primary palette has two yellows on it, Indian yellow, which is actually Indian yellow hue, and yellow ochre.
Now, the reason I got rid of cadmium yellow is that, like all the other cadmiums, it’s a heavy metal. And I got rid of heavy metals from the studio a long time ago. It makes my studio less toxic, more sustainable, more healthy, and all around more pleasant to be in.
The reason that I chose Indian yellow hue is that with that one color, I can mix a whole range of intense yellows. All the way from a cool lemon yellow to something that is the equivalent of the warm, rich, darker cadmium yellow hue.
So a little bit about Indian yellow, before we get started. Indian yellow is for the most part an Indian yellow hue. They really do not make the original Indian yellow anymore, although some people claim that they do. Want to know more about the history of Indian yellow? Click here to read an earlier article about the pigment and its origins.
Each company that has their own version of Indian yellow hue has used a little bit different pigment to create it. Now, in Williamsburg and Gamblin, both use the same pigment that diarylide yellow, which is PY 83. Vasari, uses a different pigment, PY 139. PY 139 is one that has a little bit more light fastness. Both are really good quality paints.
I use both. Indian yellow from Williamsburg has been my go-to for a very long time.
So, let’s dive in and talk about its position on the double primary palette.
I usually use these two as my warm and cool yellow. Yellow ochre, which is a duller color, takes the place of the cool yellow. It’s great for mixing lots of greens, but with Indian yellow mixed with white, I can mix the whole range of intense yellows. It’s why one tube of paint really takes the place of a whole variety of other tubes. I can mix things all the way from the equivalent of lemon yellow to the equivalent of a cadmium yellow deep.
So, what we’ve got right here is the Williamsburg Indian yellow down at the bottom. And just so you can compare, I’ve got Vasari, Indian yellow at the top and the yellow ocher over on the right. The white that I’m using to mix is my favorite. My usual Gamblin’s flake white replacement, which is a titanium white.
So we’ve got a fairly simple pallet here that we’re working with and we’re going to mix several different variations of the Indian yellow and the titanium white.
Let’s get started here with something that becomes close to the lemon yellow.
It’s a good idea when you’re mixing to mix the darker color into the lighter color, the darker pigment into the lighter one. It just makes it a whole lot easier to not go too dark, too fast. You can see here where I’m getting something that is fairly close to a yellow lemon.
Yellow is a really light color and on the cooler side, the thing that makes it cool is the addition of that white. So white is in general a cooler color, and it is definitely cooler than the original Indian yellow pigment.
There is our lemon yellow, and let’s get another pile of white. And this time we will add a little bit more of our Indian yellow. We’re going now for a color that is a little bit more warm, a little darker, close to the CAD yellow light.
And that is pretty much a primary yellow. That’s another one of the reasons I like Indian yellow is you can hit primary yellow. Of all of the colors that we use in the double primary palette, Indian yellow is the only one that comes close to being the actual pure primary color. Now, if we’re going to go for cadmium yellow medium to deep, we’ll add more of the Indian yellow.
Remember again, mixing the dark into the light. So you see, as we get less white in there, it’s warming up and now we have cadmium yellow medium. See how it has tilted a little bit towards that warmer side.
Now, we’re going to go for the darkest one here and see how almost orange it is. So when it has less white in it, that Indian yellow is really a yellow orange. It is not at all limiting to use that as your main yellow.
Because it’s a dye color, a little bit of it really does go a very long way. So I do not have to replace it that often, even when doing a lot of bigger paintings.
I’m going to go for the gusto and go for a really darker one here. Get it towards that orange. Now, I want you to see I’ll take some and put it over here on the side.
Indian yellow looks opaque in its mass tone. When you squeeze it straight out of the tube that’s called the mass tone. When it’s not diluted at all, when you spread it out, you can see how intense and transparent it is.
When you add the white, a little bit of white, what that does is it bounces the light back at you. That’s why when you add a little bit of white to it, it becomes super, super intense.
That’s how I do it. That’s how I mix that full range of yellows using just that one pigment. It’s the combination of Indian yellow and different amounts and proportions of white, that gives you that rich range that you can see right here.
I hope this has been helpful.
Feel free to share it with a friend if it has been.
And let me know in the comments if you love Indian yellow too.
Want to know more about Indian yellow and the Double Primary Palette? Here are a few links mentioned in the video:
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