This also came up in Paul's post and I don't recall doing an update.  In early 2015 The jury was still out regards the future availability of cadmium based pigments.  There was a formal proposal in Europe that would have completely banned cadmiums due to health and environmental concerns.

Later in the year the proposal was rejected, partially based upon submissions from artists, professional organizations, and manufacturers.  Had it been passed, these pigments would likely have disappeared from the global market due to the more limited market base.

While the newer non-mineral pigments like Hansa Yellow have nice colour, I find them too transparent for all situations.  The opacity that seems to be a liability for cadmiums in some mixes is also an asset at times.  With the interest in replacing cadmiums with less toxic pigments, we are seeing an increase in the number of cadmium "hues" on the market.  These are cadmium-free, being comprised of pigment mixtures designed to look like the colours they are trying to replace.  For the most part they are inferior pigments and much more transparent, so they have little in common with the cadmiums.  If you wish to avoid the cadmiums, you probably should try synthetics like Hansa yellow, Perylene or Naphthol Red, or the Quinacridones and leave the hues alone.

Hues are mixtures, and the pigments used will vary by manufacturer.  The only one worthy of note is Alizarin Crimson, referred to as "hue" or "permanent".  The original pigment was very nice to work with and rather unique, but did have a major issue with fading.  Some other hues like Naples Yellow and Van Dyke Brown had safety concerns; they can be fairly easily mixed when needed.  Golden and Liquitex use different pigments for Alizarin, so they are not freely interchangeable.

Non-mineral pigments may have relatively short lifespans from a commercial perspective.  Their primary markets are the textile and automotive industries, so pigments can disappear quite quickly when their needs change.  Several Quinacridones have already fallen victim to changing market demands.

When trying to match perceived colours it is worth remembering that the way our eyes and brains work together makes it unlikely that many of us "see" the exact same colour anyway.  The relative values and relative colours that we use are far more important than the specific pigments. 

I survived when they took my Kodachrome away, guess I can deal with losing a pigment or two along the way  .  .      .

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Comment by Charles Eisener on September 6, 2016 at 7:53am

Hi KC!  Your question is not that easy to answer.  Information regards the potential cadmium ban came from several articles posted on the Golden Paint web site.  The rest has simply been distilled from various books, articles, and manufacturer web sites.  I worked with a lot of dyes in the health care field, so I did develop a rather technical approach to their properties and a respect for safety issues.  Being a fairly active amateur photographer for many years also helped.

If you want to learn more, I would strongly suggest looking up the specific pigments in your paints.  Searching the actual pigment will provide a short history of its use, manufacture, purity and safety along with useful properties and any disadvantages.  Manufacturers often use different names for the same pigment, so the pigment number also provides a universal method of identification.  Ultramarine Blue, for example, is Pigment Blue 29, or PB29.  If other pigments are included in your paint, it is not pure Ultramarine Blue.

Most brands of professional paint provide online references so you can see which pigments are present in which colours, and quite typically the pigment numbers are printed on the actual product label.

Try keep your colour collection small!  It is better to learn how to get the maximum out of a few colours than to collect colours that may only rarely be used.  There is no practical reason for me to have six or seven different blues; I simply got into that habit when I assumed more was better.  A number of the blues have been tossed away after doing comparisons and a more critical evaluation of the full potential of each colour.  Depending on the subject, I now try to limit the colours in any given painting to four or five plus white.  It is not always the same combination, but the range is controlled.  This gives much better colour balance and unity, and also encourages you to get the maximum out of each colour on the palette.

Karen has a nice starting palette in her demos.  If you restricted yourself to those colours for a while you would learn how to get the most from them and how useful their various mixes can be.  Then if you feel the need to add another colour, do so, but experiment to see how functional it is with the rest of your palette - maybe the perceived need does not reflect the reality of performance!

Comment by KC Cooke on September 6, 2016 at 6:53am
Interesting. I didn't know any of this! I have just picked my colors based on learning here. When and where does one learn about all this? Just from painting and trying new things? Or are there books I should reference? I feel I am ready to move from the casual recreational painter to actually learning and studying too. I totally chose the wrong major in college!
Comment by Mary on August 20, 2016 at 5:27am

Thanks Charles.  You are a wealth of interesting and helpful knowledge.

Comment by Karen Ilari on August 18, 2016 at 8:36am

Great info Charles! Cadmium is quite the issue! I've switched over to Napthal Red and Hansa Yellow. They are more transparent, but they mix better than the cadmiums. I found the cadmiums to create mud really quickly and were better on their own or with just a little mixing.

I personally like the more transparent colors in general - as long as they have rich chroma as well.

Thanks for posting! Fascinating as always

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