• Colourman

Phthalocyanine Blue Pigment: Pb15

Technical data for Phthalo Blue is easily accessible and abundant on the internet. So, there’s no point repeating what’s been said dozens of times.

Phthalo Blue, like most pigments has many names. This standard pigment is used in every kind of artist medium because it is has incredible staining power and is inexpensive, compared to many other organic  pigments.

But all this great staining power comes with a disadvantage for the colourman. Even following the strictest workplace hygiene practices, the pigment seems to get everywhere. Get a bit on your finger or hand and before you know it, your nose and chin and forehead will be blue.

Get some on the floor and step on it. You will be able to retrace every blue step.

The pigment is also very light so trace amounts become airborne when mixing (I always wear gloves, a respirator, and goggles when mixing and handling dry pigment).  Inevitably, at the end of a long day of Phthalo Blue paint and pastel making, the water coming off your head in the shower is a pale blue (maybe I should incorporate a shower cap when pigment mixing).

Making paint with dry Phthalo Blue pigment is not very complicated compared to some other pigments. The dry pigment disperses well and makes a very nice textured oil paint.

Most commercial Phthalo Blue oil paints are adulterated with extenders. Our Phthalo Blue isn’t.  It’s pigment, walnut oil, and beeswax.

Making Phthalo Blue soft pastels required a lot of experimentation to get right. The pigment on its own creates a hard and brittle pastel that doesn’t mark paper the way we want soft pastels to work. So, the right combination of binder, kaolin, talc, and Troyes white had to be discovered. There were many failed attempts and frustrating moments to get what we have today. It was worth it.

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