My Palette: Red
I use two reds on my palette: cadmium red and alizarin crimson.
I use Golden Paints‘ Cadmium Red (Golden is the brand name, not the paint color). Cadmium colors tend to be very bright, opaque, and warm in tone. “Warm” is artspeak for colors that tend toward the red-orange-yellow hues. A warm red like cadmium, for example, has a slight orange cast to it, almost like a tomato (but not quite that orange).
Cadmium is a heavy metal like mercury, and it is similarly poisonous. So, don’t eat the paint! Actually, I try not to get it on my skin, and if a little gets on me I wash it off quickly. It would be safest to wear latex gloves to avoid all contact, but I hate wearing gloves.
Alizarin (stress the second syllable) is a very ancient dye color, originally made from madder root. Interestingly madder creates an orange-red color, but alizarin paints are typically a cooler red, that is, red with a slight blue tint. True alizarin is very fugitive (fades quickly). I haven’t seen it used in acrylic paint. Instead, synthetic pigments are used to approximate the color, but without the fading problem.
The alizarin crimson I use is Winsor & Newton‘s Permanent Alizarin Crimson. The word “permanent” indicates that the paint is a synthetic version. I don’t know how good an approximation the Winsor & Newton color is, but I do know that of all the alizarins I’ve tried it’s by far my favorite. It’s a very clean, rich color with no muddiness. I also sometimes use Golden Paints’ Quinacridone Crimson as a pretty close substitute, though it is slightly more blue than I like. Other brands I’ve tried were more muddy. Both the alizarins I use are pretty transparent, which I believe derives from the quinacridone pigments (synthetic pigments like quinacridone tend to be transparent, while natural earth-pigments like cadmium tend to be opaque).
Next time I’ll talk about how I use both reds in my paintings. You can see my paintings on my web site.