Achilles' Horses

We examined the history of phthalocyanine pigments a few days ago, focusing in particular on Sevres Blue, which is basically phthalo blue cut with titanium white. Sevres resembles Cerulean, a blue which is quite useful in replicating the color of the sky as it approaches the horizon and is warmed somewhat. The conclusion was that Sevres, while a very lovely hue, infects everything within reach, causing a whole skyscape to take on its acid color.

Just for laughs, I went out and painted three sky sketches this afternoon, but excluding Sevres from my palette. Here they are, along with the one from a week ago, painted with the same colors, plus Sevres.

Can you spot the sketch which was painted with Sevres blue? Yep, the lower right. Much as I tried to quash Sevres’ explosively chromatic hue, it still commands the whole picture, and makes the coloring of subtler passages, such as the clouds hovering near the horizon, ridiculously bland. Think of it this way: if you sang at the Open Mic along with Enrico Caruso, the judges probably wouldn’t remember you.

Can you spot the sketch which was painted with Sevres blue? Yep, the lower right. Much as I tried to quash Sevres’ explosively chromatic hue, it still commands the whole picture, and makes the coloring of subtler passages, such as the clouds hovering near the horizon, ridiculously bland. Think of it this way: if you sang at the Open Mic along with Enrico Caruso, the judges probably wouldn’t remember you.

The exclusion of Sevres allows the whole spectrum to play on a more level field. It makes sense.

Today’s first sketch

Today’s first sketch

When some Greek sentries happened upon a Trojan spy sneaking into their camp, they asked him what could possibly have motivated him to embark on such a suicide mission. “They promised me Achilles’ horses,” replied the spy.

His captors thought that was pretty funny. “Achilles can hardly ride those horses, let alone a wuss like you,” they told him.

And then they killed him.

Sevres blue, like Achilles’ horses, is hard to tame.

Another sketch, painted without Sevres. All the pigments are pretty much in the same league.

Another sketch, painted without Sevres. All the pigments are pretty much in the same league.

Yet again, no Sevres.

Yet again, no Sevres.

The real mission here was not so much to banish Sevres, but replace it with Cerulean. But I have no decent Cerulean, and it didn’t seem to make much difference, Ultramarine, along with Crimson Madder, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Lemon, and Ultramarine seemed to get the job done.

But having the whole orchestra play in the same key seems like a better way to go about things, I think.