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Lead white

I don't know if it's been posted here before, but I was wondering what your thoughts on lead white are? compared to titanium or zinc.

I use titanium white but I've heard lead white is really good for mixing flesh tones. I havnt gotten any cause of the toxicity . I try to keep my work station organized and clean but since I have a small son I worry Ill take traces with me from when I'm painting. That why I havnt gotten any.

But I was wondering if the same type of tones can be mixed with titanium as with lead white.


  • dencaldencal -
    edited December 2013

    Yep! Lead white is great for flesh tones but toxic to humans and need little encouragement to become airborne in dust particles.

    Read about the value of lead white to Lucian Freud here -

    I have not used any lead white but from all accounts it seems to be warmer than titanium and has a tranparent lustre that suits skin so well.

    There are a few US manufacturers producing lead white.

  • Lead white makes no better flesh tones than titanium. Why - because I can mix lead white color with titanium by adding a TINY amount of yellow and red. Lead white is also more transparent then titanium which makes it harder to paint with because you get less coverage.

    The biggest advantage to lead white is that it forms a much stronger paint film, very resistant to long term cracking etc.

    I used it for that reason for several years when I was starting out, but I prefer the working properties of titanium. And by the way, titanium almost always has some zinc white in it, this is necessary because without it, the dried white paint can become chalky.
  • Thanks for the replies. I'm going to try to mix some white like Mark suggests.
  • I have used flake/cremnitz white for 30 years, and except for my left leg dragging along behind, it's fine. (Just a little country humor.) Yes, flake/lead white is toxic, but so are the cadmiums (heavy metals), pthalo blue (contains a component of cyanide), turquoise contains arsenic, and one of the older reds (can't remember it -- vermillion?) contains, or contained mercury. One of the assets of flake white is that it dries quickly, and will encourage colors with which it is mixed to dry quickly, also. No matter the paint, it's a good thing to keep a clean work area, wash your hands, and don't eat the paint. Otherwise paint away and don't worry until one of your legs begins to drag along behind.
  • Thanks for all the replies.

    I sometimes use cadmiums and I know other paints are toxic as well. I usually wear gloves when I paint and wash my hands with a de leader soap I bought after I'm done painting.
    I sometimes grab the brushes with my bare hands while setting up and I feel they have traces of toxic chemicals on it.
    Are there any other precautions I should take when dealing with such paints. Like how to clean my brushes or work area after I'm done.
    Thanks again
  • You could get some Glove In A Bottle. It's a hand cream that protects your hands while working with these paints.
  • Thanks Ronna, I'm going to look in to that
  • I am still using lead white and never switched to titanium except to try once and again. I still like its hue and soft handling nature. Marks premixed paint system is really awesome because one can go ahead and mix a lead white hue and even add a bit of wax maybe.. or less medium etc. I really appreciate the system as it puts us in control
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