Vincent van Gogh Paintings Project - Art techniques - Painted reproductions

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Van Gogh's use of Colors. Pigments and Palette.

A list of the individual pigments that Vincent van Gogh used in his artworks. Pigments of blues, yellows, reds, greens, white and black. Van Gogh's palette as detail of Self-portrait in front of the easel.

Read about Surfaces of the Canvas, Perspective Frame, Palette of Dark and Light Colors

Yellows and oranges

Naples yellow Naples yellow Was only used in his first palette in The Hague and some in his paintings in Antwerp and Paris.

Zinc yellow (lemon yellow) Zinc yellow The zinc yellow must be the lemon yellow having used for the pictures. Zinc yellow and chrome yellow were often used combined.

Chrome yellow and orange Chrome yellow and orange By far the most common type used by Van Gogh was the yellow lead chromate. The orange variety, chrome orange was used three times less.

Vandyck brown Vandyck brown it fades on exposure to strong light and develops a cold, grey tone. Used in mixtures with blues to get a kind of black color.


Red lakes (geranium lake) Red lakes Van Gogh was attracted to the translucent red lake pigments for their striking intensity and color saturation. In Paris he used only red lake pigments from natural sources. And also used by Georges Seurat.
The syntetic lake of eosin known as geranium lake is employed from the Arles period.

Vermillion Vermillion Vermillion, opaque orangish pigment. Most vermilion comes from cinnabar mined in China.

Cochineal lake (Carmine) Cochineal lake (Carmine) Cochineal, crimson-coloured dye carmine, was the most common lake used by Van Gogh. The tin-based cochineal went on the most populair choice of Van Gogh.

Madder lake (Alizarin) Madder lake (Alizarin) Cochineal and madder were the most important natural dyes used for red lake pigments in the 18th and 19th centuries. Madder with redwood lake, redwood and Kopp's purpurin lake. Kopp's purpurin was mixed as a minor component with cochinal lake.


Cobalt blue Cobalt blue In Antwerp Van Gogh discovered the potential of cobalt blue. But it was very expensive. Tanguy sold it for four times the price of Prussian blue. Van Gogh: it can't be compared with any other blue as regards the delicate tones that one get with it.

Prussian blue Prussian blue Less expensive Prusian blue was chosen for backround areas. A greenish undertone was a known feature and make it unsuitable for artists working with a palette based on bright colors. Van Gogh went on to favour French ultramarine.

French ultramarine French ultramarine is a blue pigment and occurring in nature as a proximate component of lapis lazuli.

Cerulean blue Cerulean blue This color was noted as difficlut to work with, since it had a very dense body, yet in some works it was adjusted to thin, fluid consistency and using on the light grounds. Van Gogh mixed a similar blue color using cobalt blue and cadmium yellow.


Viridean and emerald green Viridean and emerald green Viridean, known in France as vert émeraude and true emerald green as vert Véronése. Viridean and emerald green were used combined. Chrome green was never used by Van Gogh.

Backs and Whites

Black, lead and zinc white Blacks were banned by Impressionist painters. Lead and zinc white were used by Van Gogh in larger quantities. To know: The colder zinc white was used for smooth purplish shading in the clouds, ending with highlights of yellowish impasto of lead white and cadmium yellow. (Note: because of the slow drying of zinc white use lead and zinc white only mixed)

Van Gogh's Palette

Van Gogh's palette

Detail Van Gogh's palette

Van Gogh's palette as detail of Self-portrait in front of the easel.

Dark on bright blue: two layers with various mixtures of cobalt blue and lead white.

Darkened orange on light yellow: multiple layers with orange of red lead and vermilion. And the yellow of various mixtures of cadmium yellow, zinc yellow, chrome yellow and lead white.

Light orange: cadmium orange.

Darkened red on green: cochineal lake on top of emerald green.

Orange red on light yellow: vermillion with a little red lake on a layer of zinc yellow and lead white.

> Read more ... Van Gogh's artist colors are still available


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