There's no "Modern Equivalent"
I've been resetting my oil color palette and doing some research about pigments from the 19th century. This was all in response to a recent portrait that I started that didn't turn out well at all. I had been using a "modern" palette of colors, which left the painting feeling incredibly heavy and garish. This got me thinking: "Will the pigments I use have an affect on the outcome?" The answer is absolutely yes.
The materiality of art has an impact on the final outcome. This doesn't mean that if you buy some classic pigments then you'll paint like Rembrandt. But, if you're interested in old master painting and 19th century works, you're missing a piece of the puzzle by not studying the pigments used by those artists.
I used to think that I had to fit in to the times I live in. That I had to be a part of our age in art. The truth is that time is cyclical and not linear. You're not old fashioned because you use time-tested and proven pigments versus the "modern equivalents".
I'll give the example of titanium white Vs. silver white. Titanium white is an incredibly heavy and opaque pigment and will leave your flesh or other tints feeling chalky and dull. If you look at painting with silver white (which is a combination of zinc white and lead white) there's a pearlescent quality to the mixture (especially useful for flesh-tones). There's no comparison between the two different whites. I'll say also that part of the translucency of older paintings comes with age because pigments become more transparent with age, but silver white, flake white and a few others will help to give you that effect.
Take what I say with a grain of salt and test out your own colors and see what works for you. I'll share my current palette below. Yes, some of the pigments are newer, but this is what works for me.
Basic Classical Palette:
-Chrome Yellow Light
-Chrome Yellow Deep
-Rose Madder Lake
-Madder Lake Deep
-Veronese Green (Emerald Green)
-Van Dyke Brown
-Cadmium Yellow Light
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