This is the story of yellow ochre, how important to it is in my paintings, and just how far I’ll go to get the perfect color I want!
Even though I paint often, I actually don’t go through too much paint. You see, I have come to realize that oil painting is actually quite economical. I paint with fairly thin layers of paint made from oils and they really spread out over a great distance.
I occasionally hear people boast about acrylics and how they are cheaper to use when compared to oil paints. These folks are completely wrong. I have digressed a bit so let’s get back on topic. We’re talking pigments here!
My Yellow Ochre Finally Runs Out
So I finally ran out of one of my staple colors: yellow ochre. Having been in the painting business for over 20 years I have amassed a rather large collection of supplies. Everything from over purchases, abandoned colors, donations, and by whatever means I seem to have loads of extra paint tubes in storage.
When I run out of an oil paint, before ordering any paints online or driving to the art store I check my storage cabinet. This time was no different.
I had been clinging onto two tubes for at least a decade. One tube was one of the huge Winsor & Newton tubes of paint though.
After searching around my surpluses I noticed an ancient tube of yellow ochre. With a smile on my face I put some on my palette.
The smile quickly turned to a look of chagrin.
What is this color I just put on my palette? This doesn’t look like yellow ochre at all, I thought. I quickly turned the tube around and looked for the pigment declaration.
PY43? What the? I always thought yellow ochre was made with PY42? What’s going on here?
Okay, no big deal. It was just a single tube of yellow ochre I needed.
Let me just take a ride over to my local art supply store.
Know Your Paints
For the longest time I’ve been intrigued by the ingredients that go into making paint. Kind of like the way people read ingredients and nutritional facts on the food they eat!
You see, paint tubes list what pigment is being used to give the paint its color. This is very important to pay attention.
On my shopping trip I was looking for a tube of yellow ochre that was made with pigment #42. You’ll often read on the paint tube something like “pigment: PY42”.
So I knew exactly what I wanted: A tube of yellow ochre oil paint manufactured with the pigment: PY42.
The first tube I picked up was Winsor & Newton’s Artists’ series. I flipped over the tube and couldn’t believe it. This yellow ochre was made with pigment #43. I took off the cap to look at the paint directly.
Yuck, this paint was just like the non-yellow variety I put on my palette just before my journey to this store.
The next brand I went to was Gamblin. I made my way to the stack of organized paints, all organized so nicely. I figured I would just grab their tube of yellow ochre, pay for it and be on my way.
Gamblin’s yellow ochre was also made with PY43.
Man, what the heck was going on here? I checked a few more brands and sure enough they were all made with pigment #43 not #42.
So what’s the big deal?
Why Did I Want a Yellow Ochre Oil Paint Made With PY42?
It has to do with hue. I have come to realize that PY42 is very much yellow in hue. Being an earth color it is naturally less saturated when compared to cadmium yellow but it’s yellow nonetheless.
PY43 on the other hand is a yellow-orange hue and it tends to be not only darker, but slightly less saturated then the yellow hue created by PY42. My raw sienna oil color already exhibits these qualities perfectly.
There’s absolutely no need to duplicate my existing palette.
PY43 is a naturally occurring iron oxide and PY42 is a synthetically created iron oxide. Until you see the two pigments side by side it’s hard to notice the difference in color.
Fine enough talk…here’s a photo of two types of yellow ochre. The image on the left is yellow ochre oil paint made with PY42 and on the right is yellow ochre oil paint made with PY43.
By the way, I talk about these kinds of nerdy, in-depth, technical aspects of painting in my newsletter. It’s totally free, comes out once a month and will help you understand how to paint better. I think you should check it out.
Meanwhile Back in the Art Supply Store…
I searched through nearly all of the oil painting brands they had: Gamblin, Winsor & Newton, Old Holland, Williamsburg, pretty much all my go-to brands when buying quality oil paints.
Finally I found what I was looking for!
It turns out that Winsor & Newton’s student grade oil paint which they call Winton has a yellow ochre that is made with synthetic iron oxide PY42. Yes! The color is such a beautiful yellow. It was exactly the color I was looking for.
So my mission was over but I thought I’d go through all the paints and see if I could find any more…
Yellow Ochre Oil Paints Made With PY42:
- Daler-Rowney Georgian Oil Color
- Winsor & Newton Winton
- Check the comments below as folks have been adding to this list!
Why Fuss Over Color?
Ahhh only a painter really knows the feeling. I use many earth colors in my paintings. They are fast drying, lightfast colors that have been around since the dawn of painting.
Earth colors do come in a limited range though. They exist in the yellow through red spectrum. If I keep the extremes of that range on my palette I have a lot more options to mix the color I need. When I speak of options here I’m really referring to color gamut, or in other words the range of hues possible by mixing existing colors.
I can’t mix a yellow. I have to start with one. That’s precisely why I made such a fuss over finding a yellow ochre that was made of PY42!
If you know of any other brands of yellow ochre oil paint made with py42 please leave a comment below.