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Thursday, December 20, 2007

More about Color Index Names

I'm not sure when ASTM assigned numbers to pigments, but it has been some time ago. Originally they did their testing for automotive and commercial paints. When they turned to artists' colors, I think it sort of whacked artists over the head. It was a shock to discover that so many of their favorite colors were fugitive or had fugitive pigments in their mixtures. ASTM set a voluntary standard for paints and paint labeling and quite a few manufacturers have complied by listing this information on their paint labels. Most are U.S. producers. The Color Index Names (which are actually letters and numbers, e.g., PR 254 means "pigment red, number 254," which is pyrrol red)are useful, but brands may look different, even with the same pigment. One of the more consistent colors is phthalocyanine blue green shade, PB 15:3, which has a different name in every brand of paint. It can be a challenge if you run out of paint and try to match a color, but you have a better chance if you know the ASTM name.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thinking of Florida

My editor picked up the last of the captions and art for Confident Color at my daughter's today, where I was baby-sitting. It feels good to have it all out of my hands, even though I know I will still be reviewing the copy-edit in three to four weeks.

I'm already beginning to think of my Florida workshop in February. It has been bitter cold here, not exactly the usual even for December in Ohio. Global warming is a tough sell here. I wonder what Palm Coast, Florida, is like. I've been South in the winter when it wasn't all that warm, but it has to be better than 18 degrees and five inches of snow. At least we didn't get hammered like some places did. I can hardly wait!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007


Just when I think I'm finished with my book, Confident Color, another task pops up. Last week I completed a color chart of 70 colors that may or may not be included, depending on space. I only had 68 of the colors and had to go to an art store the next day to get the other two. Yesterday I cut out the labels on my printed chart and taped them to a transparent overlay for the production department to match the alignment. I hope they use it--it will be very helpful to artists in understanding how colors are identified by ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials) color index names. Those are the letters and numbers you see on some of the tubes of paint, for example, PB29 for ultramarine blue. Manufacturers use so many different names for the same colors that I think it's important that artists start familiarizing themselves with these color index names so they know what they are buying. Even so, manufacturing processes aren't the same and colors don't necessarily match from brand to brand. PR108 is used to make cadmium red light, cadmium red medium, cadmium red deep and cadmium scarlet. Burnt sienna might be a synthetic iron oxide (PR101) or a natural iron oxide (PBr7). You might not want to bother with these technicalities, but they can make a big difference if you prefer a reddish sienna to a darker version or a transparent color versus an opaque one. You don't have to be a color-chart freak like I am, but you do need to keep track of what works for you so you can repeat the results you like.

I'm handing off the last pages and charts to my editor on Tuesday. Looks like I might get to enjoy Christmas after all, without book projects hanging over my head.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Ultimate highs and lows

Last night I went to bed at midnight higher than a kite, speaking metaphorically. I finally finished the last of the captions for demonstration paintings included in my new book. Seven artists agreed to do these demos. It has been such a hassle, from the photography aspect to getting the information for the captions. In mid-October I expected to have the images my editor selected from those submitted. I got the list the week before Thanksgiving. Probably didn't matter, as I was having serious sinus problems in October and most of November. Nevertheless, the burden of getting those captions written was really stressful. I was euphoric when I finished last night and couldn't get to sleep for hours. That's the high part.

The low part--I turned on my computer this morning and Norton told me my hard drive was in danger of being corrupted if I tried to open Windows. Their GoBack program didn't work. I left the house to work out, figuring I'd try to resuscitate it when I got home. Turned everything off and let it rest. Poor thing must have been as overworked as I felt. So far so good. At least everything is on my second hard drive, but I hadn't backed up files for several days. Gotta do that next.

There haven't been any major problems with the book, but I like to have more control over the process and these past few weeks haven't been conducive to that. No doubt I need to learn to go with the flow, but sometimes I'm too busy paddling my boat to realize that. As someone wrote to me--take a deep breath. That helps.

It also helps to hold our new grandbaby or hug our little granddaughter. They were both here for two hours yesterday and it was a welcome break. There must be something in grandma DNA that shuts down all systems but love in the presence of the little ones.

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