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Old 12-24-2005, 09:47 AM   #1
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
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Another question about yellow and raw umber

If raw umber is a "yellow," why is it that when you mix a little yellow ocher into raw umber, you get what I call a "curious" green?

Is there also a blue component to raw umber?
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Old 12-24-2005, 09:05 PM   #2
Alexandra Tyng Alexandra Tyng is offline
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Hi Richard,

I think the problem comes in when you start thinking about colors in categorical terms. If you want to group raw umber in the yellow category, then you have to define that category liberally. Looking at raw umber side-by-side with cadmium yellow, they are very different in color, transparency, tinting strength, chemical origin--just about every property. Personally, I don't think of raw umber as a yellow at all. But however you categorize it, it is a relatively neutral earth color.

In the photo below, I mixed some raw umber with white (left). Then I had some fun making "mud" with the primary colors the way we did as kids with poster paint, remember? I mixed cad yellow light, perylene red, and ultramarine blue with white in an attempt to approximate the same neutral shade. I think I came pretty close--maybe if I'd used cobalt blue or cad red light I would have made a more exact match.

Mud comes in many shades of brown/grey-brown/red-brown, etc. So does earth. Raw umber is cooler than, say, burnt umber, so theoretically it has more blue in it than burnt umber. Any relatively neutral color can be made with mixtures of complementary colors. Hope this is of some help in answering your question.

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Old 12-25-2005, 06:19 PM   #3
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
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Thanks for your thoughts. I don't think of raw umber as yellow, either, but some do.

As Alice said, this gets curioser and curioser. If you mix something with yellow and get a green, you are inclined to think that you mixed something with a touch of blue/cool to the yellow.

I think RU is a neat "non-color." It can temper about anything . . . take the edge off, so to speak. It can also work well in warm or cool flesh tones.
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Old 12-25-2005, 07:31 PM   #4
Allan Rahbek Allan Rahbek is offline
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As Alexandra just demonstrated, Raw Umber is a mixture of red, blue and yellow, but dominated by the yellow.

If your Raw Umber turns greenish in mixtures with Yellow Ochre it is because it is a greenish Umber ( containing a relatively larger share of blue ). The result of mixing colors will always be something in between the implicite colors

The three Raw Umbers shown below is from the same brand ( Artifex)and shows an almost Yellow Ochre variation called Yellow Umber. The Raw Umber Light is greenish and the last one named Raw Umber Deep is more reddish.

I have placed the 3 Umbers in the color wheel along with Burnt Sienna #4, Venetian Red #5 and Indian Red #6.

Color mixing is so simple to understand if one does not put the artificial names on them. Tell me what color is coffee ? Depends on the strength and if one uses milk and sugar. Pigeon Blue ? Burnt and Raw Umber ?
The reason why we use certain colors like Raw Umber is that the pigment is at hand from the nature, it is colored eath in a useful hue and strength, just like Cadmium Red is useful. Their position on the colorwheel is quite accidental and should be regarded as such.

I do not pick my colors for the palette from how I like their hue or character but from how they mix with others. That is because I prefer to break the colors to not use the same color / hue / value over and over again. I prefer to use as few colors / tubes as possible.

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