Thursday 20 August 2015

1 - Mixing with Phthalo Green (Blue Shade)

Part 1 of a series I'll do on mixing with my Ultimate Mixing Palette colours. 

To see the mixing range this palette can create, you can see the various versions of my book here and look at the previews.

Phthalo Green comes in Blue Shade and Yellow Shade. The blue shade is made with PG7 and is also called Winsor Green BS, Helio Green, Blockx green and so on. Its full name is phthalocyanine green and is a reliable lightfast, staining, transparent and very powerful colour. The yellow shade is made with PG36 and is, not surprisingly, more of a yellow-green. I prefer the blue shade.

I don't use Phthalo Green alone, and suggest you very rarely would as it simply doesn't look realistic, but I find it invaluable in my palette for mixing. Add a cool or mid yellow for bright spring-greens, add a warm yellow for wonderful Sap greens. Add a crimson for the most amazing range of plum, aubergine, deep green and black hues. Add burnt sienna for pine greens. Add a blue for turquoise hues. While some of these colours could be created using Phthalo Blue + a yellow and then mixing with the third colour, most people struggle with 3-colour mixes so having a green in the palette speeds up the mixing process and simplifies it to just a 2-colour process.

Here is a chart showing how it mixes with 12 of my Ultimate Mixing Palette colours to create bright spring greens, lovely sap greens, deep shadow greens, turquoise hues, and earthy greens. With Burnt Sienna and Indian Red it creates yet more pine greens and deep greens. The biggest surprise is the purples it makes with Quinacridone Rose and of course the wonderful black it makes with its opposite, Pyrrol Crimson. All colours shown are Daniel Smith.

Daniel Smith Phthalo Green BS mixed with 12 of my Ultimate Mixing Palette colours.

If you don't like the staining, non-granulating nature of this pigment, another option is Viridian, made with PG18, as seen on the left in this Da Vinci sample. This isn't as powerful, but is liftable and granulating. It varies considerably from different manufacturers, some of whom add PG7 to the mix.                   Another interesting option is the gorgeous Daniel Smith primatek Jadeite Genuine which is similar in hue though in masstone it is a very deep granulating colour. I love the special effects that this pigment creates, though in my regular palette I like the predictability of Phthalo Green BS (Daniel Smith). To see these painted out with other palette colours, see my post here.


  1. Thank you. I was searching for how to create the right greenish-blue-black and now I understand not just that, but many more mixtures, some unexpected. I never bought Pthalo Green because I never thought I'd use it, but now I see how valuable it is.

    1. I always suggest that people choose their palette colours to enable them to mix whatever they wish using just two colours, to speed up the mixing and to simplify the painting process. While you could start with phthalo blue, add a little cool yellow to make a phthalo green hue, then start mixing, it takes more time and more palette space and more brush washing to do that. Starting with Phthalo Green gives you the option to make easy warm greens, neutral greens or deep greens quickly.

  2. I was experimenting with M.Graham Pthalo green B.S today and encountered a strange problem when I mixed it with Winsor & Newton Quin Magenta, it granulated really strongly but my understanding is neither of them are granulating colours??? It doesn't happen when I use WN Pthalo Green B.S or when I use them at a creamy consistency or if i use them separately or with other colours, but when I dilute those two together they granulate massively. At first I thought I must have granulation medium on my palette but further experiments ruled that out. I wondered if you have encountered anything like this before? non granulating colours granulating with just one specific paint?

    1. I know what you are referring to but I don't know why it happens. I assume it is a chemical reaction. I also saw it happen when using W&N Quin Magenta, but trying to mix with Daniel Smith colours. It created a strange spotting effect both on the palette and on the paper.

      So I have found that there are some colours 'fight' with each other - they don't want to mix.

      I don't use M.Grahams as they are too runny for our humid climate, but I suspect it may be the same thing happening. I suggest you don't mix those two colours, which is frustrating as you don't necessarily want to have to stick to all one brand. I haven't noticed this intereaction with any other brand but W&N - I'd be curious to know what they add (or don't add?) to cause this reaction with other brands.

    2. Well at least now I know its not just a dodgy tube. That's irritating, I use Quin Magenta very often, Id be happy to replace the M.Graham paint with W&N but my local art store just started stocking Daniel Smith and I want to try them out too. Maybe ill look at replacing the Magenta with another brands if its the one causing the fight. Thank you for you help.

    3. I'd suggest you avoid mixing W&N and Daniel Smith if you can. That's the combination I had trouble with. As far as I know you can mix DS with any of the other brands.
      DS don't make a Quin magenta PR122 so if that's a colour you love you could try Schmincke for that pigment. I use PV19 DS Quinacridone Rose instead - it's not the same colour but I actually prefer it as I find the magenta a rather artificial looking colour, though it is a brilliant mixer!
      Happy painting :-)