image


Green The color of growth and life
Green is the most restful color on the eye. In nature the color is all around us but as a pigment color it was elusive until recently. There are only a few minerals that are green in color, and the plant kingdom produced only weak dull greens that would fade quickly. Renaissance masters became adept at 'making do' with greens. Verdigis was unreliable and the more permanent greens such as malachite insufficiently deep. Consequently glazing yellows over blue and other indirect methods were common. It wasn't until the 19th century that the 'green problem' was finally solved.


Chromium Green Oxide PG 17   ASTM   l
Chemical type and description
Organic synthetic mixed metal oxide. Although discovered much earlier than Viridian to which it is closely related, it was not introduced as an artist's color until after Viridian. It is a dull, opaque willow green color of great permanence. It has the unusual property of photographing under infra red light the same shade as living foliage and so is the most commonly used green for military camouflage. It is average drying and makes a hard, fairly flexible oil paint. Suitable for all purposes
Toxicity
Chromium is considered toxic, suspected carcinogen. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastels, Chalk.


Viridian PG 18   ASTM   l
Also called Guignet's Green (after the discoverer)
Chemical type and description

Inorganic synthetic chromium. A bright bluish emerald green color of great permanence except for heat, as high temperatures turn it into the duller Chromium Green Oxide. Introduced in 1859 it was the perfect permanent deep green color artist's had needed since the dawn of time, and has only ever been challenged in that role by the more pure and brilliant Pthalo Green from the mid 20th century. When making oil paint by hand it is advisable to choose Viridian since as with most mineral colors as opposed to organics, it is generally easier to make into a paint. However care must be taken when purchasing the pigment as it is difficult for the manufacturer to purify the pigment and remove traces of borate's and chromate's which if present can be problematic. It is wise to pay a premium for the best grades. Viridian is not well suited to acrylics, watercolors, gouache, or fresco. In oil it is average drying and makes a hard and fairly flexible oil paint.
Toxicity
Chromium is considered toxic and a suspected carcinogen. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Tempera, Encaustic, Pastels, Chalk.


Cobalt Green PG 19 & PG 50
PG 50 is also known as Light Green Oxide
Chemical type and description
Inorganic synthetic mixed metal oxides. Since these pigments share many qualities I will deal with them both together. The main difference is that the PG 19 has zinc as a component and PG 50 has titanium. Both are very permanent bright mid greens of low tinting strength. The older PG 19 has never been a large part of artists ranges, but PG 50 seems to be increasing in use as it has a popular and pleasing color and is a little bit stronger. Both are average to fast driers and make hard and fairly flexible oil paint. PG 19 is not suited to fresco, but apart from that they are suited to most artist's media.
Toxicity
Cobalt is considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastels, Chalk.


Pthalo Green PG 7 & PG 36   ASTM   l
Also known as Monastral Green
Chemical type and description
Organic synthetic Pthalocyanine. A Chlorinated and Brominated version of copper pthalocyanine. PG 7 is an intense clear bright emerald green color that gains in popularity and usage year by year, and appears to be displacing Viridian in most usage's. Manufacturers like it because it is a similar color but has none of the restrictions of Viridian being suitable for all water based media as well as oil paint. PG 36 is a yellow shade of Pthalocyanine that is an excellent mixing color and is liked by many as it is not so powerful as the bluer version.
Toxicity
Copper may be a slight hazard. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastels, Chalk.


Green Earth PG 23   ASTM   l
Also known as Terre Verte, Bohemian Earth, Burnt Green Earth
Chemical type and description
Inorganic ferrous silicates with aluminum and magnesium. A weak green pigment made from small deposits of greenish clays of different color depending on origin. Bohemian Earth appears to be yellower, while Verona is more bluish. The weakness of the pigment means that many artist's materials manufacturers put mixtures of Sienna and Pthalo Green into tubes instead of the real thing. It is possible to find Green Earth in which the color is developed by light calcining. It is particularly well suited to Tempera and Fresco
Toxicity
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastels, Chalk.


Other Greens A mixed bag
Hooker's Green
Originally this pigment was an unreliable mixture of Prussian Blue with Gamboge. A pleasing and useful color for watercolorist's. Eventually a reliable mixture of Cadmium Yellow and Pthalo Blue was an improvement. But strangely (perhaps because it was cheaper) a newer pigment also called Hooker's Green was introduced and given the color index PG 8 With an ASTM rating of lll this is a pigment to avoid. Look for reliable mixtures or mix your own.

Cadmium Green (PG 14)
Mixing 2 expensive pigments was always going to be a hard sell and so it has proved with this permanent mixture of cadmium Yellow and Cobalt Blue. Sometimes mixtures with Pthalo Blue are marketed. Not easy to find.


Go to pigment main page

Go to White pigments

Go to Yellow pigments

Go to Orange pigments


Go to Brown pigments

Go to Red pigments

Go to Blue pigments


Go to Violet pigments

Go to Black pigments

Go to Historic pigments

Go to Inert pigments

Go to Iridescent and Metallic pigments

Go to Miscellaneous pigments

References
Alberti, L B,    On Painting    1435 (Penguin Classics)
Cellini, B,    The Life Of Benvenuto Cellini,    finished 1562 but not published until 1730 (Heron)
Cennini, C d'A,    The Craftsman's Handbook.    1437 (Dover)
Doerner, M,    The Materials Of The Artist And Their Use In Painting,    1921 (Harcourt Brace)
Eastlake, Sir C L,    Materials For A History Of Oil Painting,    1847 (Dover)
Feller, R L,    Artists Pigments    1986 (National Gallery Of Art / Cambridge University)
Gettens, R J, and Stout, G L,      Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia,      1942 (Dover)
Gottsegen, M D,    A Manual Of Painting Materials And Techniques,    1987 (Harper & Row)
Maire, F,    Colors: What They Are And What To Expect Of Them,    1910 (Drake)
Mayer, R,   The Artists Handbook Of Materials And Techniques,    fifth edition 1991  (Faber & Faber)
Merrifield, Mrs. M P,    Medieval And Renaissance Treatises On The Arts Of Painting    1849 (Dover)
Muther, R,    The History Of Painting From The Fourth Century To The Early Nineteenth Century,    1907 (Putnam)
Parkhurst, D B,    The Painter In Oil   1898 (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard)
Patton, T C,    Pigment Handbook,    1973 (Wiley)
Porter, N      Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary,      1913 (Merriam)
Pliny, The Elder (Gaius Plinius),    Natural History,    77 AD (Penguin Classics)
Roy, A      Artist's Pigments: A Handbook Of Their History And Characteristics,      1994 (Oxford University Press)
Taubs, F,    A Guide To Traditional And Modern Painting Methods,    1963 (Thames & Hudson)
Theophilus,   On Divers Arts,    1125 (Dover)
Various,    Encyclopedia Britannica,    fifteenth edition 1981  (Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc)
Various,    Paint And Painting,   1982,  (Winsor & Newton / The Tate Gallery)
Various,    The Artist's Colormen's Story,    1984 (Winsor & Newton)
Vasari, G,   The Lives Of The Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors And Architects,    1568 (Penguin Classics)


Internet Resources  |  imageContact  | image Frequently Asked Questionsimage