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Natural Earth Colors

By Ulysses Jackson and Jim Hayes

Iron oxide pigments come from a variety of sources, both naturally occurring and man-made. The beauty of synthetic manufacturing is the ability to make very bright, strong tint, opaque and consistent earth tone colors. What may be lost with these man-made pigments is the ability to create translucent and softer effects.
This is where naturally occurring iron oxide pigments have value; as they are inherently more translucent yet offer some warm, rich qualities. The very quality of being naturally occurring means these pigments are variable in composition and physical properties, which can result in color variance from one pigment lot to the next. While this natural modulation is of great allure to artists, natural variability can cause paint makers some concern. Golden Artist Colors works hard to maintain tight tolerances on all of its products, yet the very nature of these pigments creates a need for some reasonable tolerance to variation.

That said, oil painters have access to a wide range of Natural Earth Colors. Yet, until this range of Natural Earth Colors, the acrylic artist has been limited to the standard iron/ferric oxide pigments. GOLDEN is proud to be on the forefront of Acrylic research in making available a massive resource of tone to the artist community. GOLDEN Natural Earth Colors allows for a rich impasto effect in a flexible film, and blends of these colors allow for an almost infinite variation of subtleties to render the natural world.

GOLDEN Natural Earth Colors are so diverse in tone and subtleties it would take a substantial article to describe each color fully. Thus, for the sake of brevity GOLDEN Natural Earth Colors can be placed into the following color groups. Under each heading below is a simplified description of each color’s space.

Red Earths

Natural Red Iron Oxide, PR 102, is a ferric oxide, which has a color somewhere between Red Oxide and Violet Oxide but trending on the redder side, with a bright earthy pink tint.
Natural Venetian Red, PR 102, is a ferric oxide with more transparent characteristics than GOLDEN Red Oxide. Its color is lower in chroma than a synthetic, but still retains a lush red tone.

Orange Earths

Orange Ochre, PY 43, is a hydrated Iron Oxide that is clean in tone for an earth color. The color can be described as a transparent bright rich orange with a slightly brown-yellow undertone, which tints
peach to red-orange.
Red Ochre, PR 102, is a ferric oxide pigment that is a lighter, opaque red ochre. It fills the color space between Burnt Sienna and Mars Yellow and tints to a light pink tone.
Ochre Havane, PY 43, is a hydrated ferric oxide that is beautifully translucent and tints whites a light orange. It fills a color space between two synthetic pigments: Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide and Mars Yellow.

Yellow Earths

Natural Yellow Iron Oxide is a bright transparent earth yellow with an amazing “amber” luminosity.
Yellow Ochre (Red Shade), PY 43, is very similar to Yellow Ochre with a gentle red shade in its masstone. It
has a tint with pink-peach qualities.
French Raw Sienna, PBr 7, is a very interesting ferric oxide that is much more orange and translucent than Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide.

Olive Earths

Raw Umber Olive Light, PBr 7, is a ferric oxide with an amazing olive earth yellow-green tone, almost as if Nickel Azo Yellow, Yellow Oxide and Burnt Sienna were mixed together. This color creates tints of a yellow grey quality and fills a new color space.
Raw Umber Olive, PBr 7, is a ferric oxide with a higher chroma yellow-green Raw Umber. Its tint strength is slightly weaker than Raw Umber, but creates tints of a pure yellow grey tone.

Brown Earths

French Burnt Sienna, PBr 7, is a ferric oxide that is a more translucent version of Burnt Sienna.
Raw Umber Cyprus, PBr 7, is a ferric oxide that fills the color space between Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber Light. This versatile brown creates tints that are orange-pink in nature.
French Burnt Umber, PBr 7, is a ferric oxide, which manifests a lighter purple biased version of Burnt Umber. It tints similar to a weak Violet Oxide.
Raw Umber Chestnut, PBr 7, is a ferric oxide that fills the color space between Burnt Umber Light and Raw Umber. It is a light, rich color with a tint closer to Burnt Umber Light.

Grey Earth

Ardoise Gray is transparent grey slate with a mild blue undertone. It can be useful in grey glazes bringing greater depth to shadows.

Black Earth

Cassel Earth is a warm black with orange-red undertones. It tints with a red-purple quality. The overall aesthetic is one of a genuine Asphaltum, but in a lightfast earth color.

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