How often do you use pthalo blue?

I haven't made a painting yet with mark's method, but i have been mixing colors by cutting swatches out of magazines and trying to mix that color.  I found that i have used pthalo blue and cadmium red quite a bit more than i thought i would (even if the color wasn't straight blue).  I think mark said those colors are not  used a lot.  Would it be because the colors in a magazine are brighter or more intense because the are mean't to stand out more? 


  • Pthalo is transparent and the cadmium are the most opaque colour we have..I think on Mark's method is not very useful. You can use it for glazing very well. 
  • etpelle

    I use phthalo once in a blue moon. The natural tendency is to amp colours up to make it brighter and more attractive. However, there is then little room to put intensity where it belongs or in the focal area.
    White is overused too in value mixing. The power colours have a place but it is a smaller place than many artists use Values quickly get out of control and any sense of a natural colour balance disappears.

    If you paint from life you will allow the eye to break the reliance on TV, computer monitors and magazines to judge what is natural and realistic.


  • CJDCJD -
    edited July 2019
    It depends on what you paint. If you just do portraits and dark still lifes then you'll rarely need phthalo, cad red, quinacridone magenta, or other power colors.

    But if you paint landscapes or other brightly lit scenes with greens and blues and reds and purples then you'll need them more often.

    I've never used Cad Red but there have been a few times where I needed the magenta color. For portraits, even really bright-looking red lipstick is actually quite a less chromatic than the basic pyrrole rubine/perm alizarin crimson.
  • Photos in magazines tend to be oversaturated so you're right about that. Marks point is based on painting realism and with natural colors. 
  • I agree with the comments on painting from life vs photos, magazines or computer monitors.

    When I try to match colors that are from life the basic palette is enough except for some flowers, some articles of clothing, and man made things like signs and autos.  However, when I use photos the colors are always harder to match and I find myself turning to phthalo blue or green, and even some others.
  • I use it often but probably never alone, but mixed with French Ultramarine for warmer skies or water or instead of FU with Burnt Umber for a different tone of dark or “ black”.
  • Natural colors that you see in life and processed photos are different. Probably if you go to the tropics or southern European countries only then you'll be able to see the pthalo blue, pthalo green etc. It can be used purposefully for portraits etc. though.
  • @etpelle - it would be useful to follow Mark's method down to the letter and see the results you achieve. I love it, especially for portraits and still lifes as it has that rich, intense, Master's feel, like Rembrandt and other painters of the renaissance. For that reason, his limited palette excluding pthalo blue or any of the truly "intense" colors is excellent.

    I am no real artist, but I just took a quick workshop on plein air outdoor painting and the instructor includes a small tube of pthalo green-blue to use in small amounts mixed in with many other colors. It creates a wonderful dark and lifts the brightness of greens which is important on very sunny summer afternoons.

    So for now, I would encourage you to commit to Mark's style for a year or maybe 6-8 paintings before introducing intense colors. As others have said, the mistake we often make in our age of electronics is to intensify colors rather than stick to realism.

    Happy painting!
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