Can You Say Yttrium? - Perspectives No. 438

Can You Say Yttrium?

Perspectives from The Artist's Road

Orange and Blue II, Oil, © John Hulsey
Orange and Blue II          12 x 16"          Oil          John Hulsey

   Modern color science has done it again! You may not have noticed it, but a new blue pigment was accidentally discovered by chemist Mas Subramanian at Oregon State University in 2009. It is the first new inorganic blue pigment discovered in over 200 years. It is made from Yttrium, Indium and Manganese, and has been available for industrial purposes since 2017, where its remarkable qualities and infrared reflectivity are extremely valuable. Called YinMn Blue, it wasn’t approved for artist use until 2020. After painting using an oil version of it from Gamblin, I found that the color itself is not that remarkable for general work and can be closely approximated by mixing other common and far less expensive blues. I used it in a mix to create the decorations on the white bowl in the painting above. The tube color tends toward the red side of the color wheel, somewhere between Ultramarine and Cobalt in temperature, and similar to Light Cobalt in value. The paint is variously available in watercolor, oil and acrylic from most of the artist material manufacturers. Golden Artist Colors has done extensive research on this color and that information can be found at their website:

   Depending on which company you choose, you can expect to pay between $393 for a 37 ml. tube of oil paint from Michael Harding to $28 from Winsor and Newton. Just why the price spread is so great is another story. My Gamblin tube of oil cost $75, and I’m not sure it is worth that price for my personal artistic purposes. But, each to his own. Perhaps some clever artist will discover a new use for this new pigment. Be sure and let us know if you do. We’ll publish your story!

Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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