Pigments of the Imagination

Using a base palette of primary colors, I painted a series of color swatches to determine all the hues in between, to help me visualize the gradience between primaries. To borrow a musical analogy, it was an exercise in “doing my scales” with color tones. Lascaux Sirius Acryl acrylic paint is the perfect pigment for this.



In researching the properties of pigments, I found that single-pigment paints provide more reliable mixing results and better lightfastness compared to the common “convenience mixtures” that are pre-mixed in the tube at the factory (the price for convenience is impermanence, perhaps). However, the various pigments used by acrylic paint manufacturers differ by quality and chemistry, and some pigments are better than others. I created this chart which aggregates current pigment research with common acrylic paint ingredients to determine a brand’s relationship to pigment quality. I thought it might be useful for the wider interwebs, so I posted it.


Nova Color

Nova Color is an independent acrylic brand based in California. In doing research on acrylic pigment quality, I isolated the Nova Color results into a separate table, to make the information easier to find in search engines. I like using Nova Color paints, and was looking for a table like this on the internet when researching their brand, so I thought this might be useful.

  nova color


Color is not part of the material world; color is part our phenomenological experience of the world. Our senses are already on shaky foundation here. But when we come to understand that the color magenta is even not on the visible light spectrum, we realize that our brain is truly just making things up.


CMY/RGB Color Wheel

The traditional artist’s color wheel, with primaries of red, blue and yellow (RBY), could use a reboot with an understanding of the role of the extra-spectral color magenta. The CMY/RGB color wheel, which combines primaries from the additive and subtractive color gamut, represents a more accurate interpretation of visual color.

  color wheel