Monday, February 11, 2013

Pigment Play: Lunar Black


Daniel Smith's Lunar Black & friends

Playing with paint is a great way to get to know the properties of the pigments on your palette. From color mixes to novel textures, the opportunities for discovery are endless. Starting today, I'm occasionally going to share some of my experiments and hope you'll be inspired to try some of these yourself.  For the record, I am not affiliated with any of the watercolor manufacturers and will simply feature whatever grabs my attention.

One of the most unusual watercolor paints on the market is Daniel Smith's Lunar Black.  Consisting of Mars black and black iron oxide, it yields fabulous granulation effects -- either by itself or when mixed with other paints.  In the photo above, you see the Lunar Black at the center of the top sample. At the far left is a mixture of Daniel Smith's Quinacridone Deep Gold and Lunar Black. Far right, Daniel Smith's Transparent Pyrrol Orange mixed with Lunar Black. In my experience, it's best mixed with clear strong colors, but it's just plain fun to play with -- I encourage you to get a tube and experiment. As with any granulating paint, you need to lay down a reasonably wet wash and leave it alone until it's dry. Any rebrushing or attempts to add to the wash will disrupt the granulation.

Lunar Black also has a unique property -- because of the use of iron oxide, the paint responds to manipulation with magnets.  In the bottom sample, you see a square of plain Lunar Black on the left. In the center, I've held a small circular magnet under the paper in various places while the wash was still wet to get a dot pattern.  On the right, I took a somewhat larger magnet and moved it around continuously under the paper to concentrate the pigment. If you look closely, you can see evidence of swirling as the magnet attracts the iron particles in the paint. I'm not sure exactly how I'd use this feature in my paintings, but I think it might have promise for landscapes or abstract work.

Until next time, that's it for Pigment Play!!

7 comments:

  1. It sounds like a very interesting pigment. Thank you, Chris!

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  2. I just added a detail that I inadvertently left out of the original post: just in case it wasn't intuitively obvious, you need to use the magnets while the wash is still wet.

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  3. Wow, that is pretty crazy! I may have to pick that color up and experiment. Thanks for doing these posts I find them fascinating!

    Carrie Waller

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    1. Thanks, Carrie -- I do love to play around with paint and I'm glad to share my discoveries!!

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  4. Normally I wouldn't think about buying black but this Lunar Black looks like fun! Love granulating colors!

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    1. I'm with you on granulating colors, Kittie -- and black isn't a big interest of mine either. But this is a strange breed of black -- the focus is really on the texture, although you can see that it does darken the colors I mixed with it.

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