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Questions for Mark Golden

Post #1010 • May 28, 2007, 9:23 AM • 1 Comment

The Golden Artist Colors booth at the 2007 College Art Association conference was the highlight of the trade fair if not the conference itself. Mark Golden and Golden Artist Colors staff were on hand to demonstrate some unusual new products, including a new line of neutral pigments, handsomely displayed on oversized drawdowns on the back wall of the booth. e-mailed the following questions to Mark Golden:

Golden has just added a new series of neutral pigments to its acrylic line. What inspired you to do so?

Some of these pigments are extremely close in hue. You're releasing an Orange Ochre, an Ochre Havane, and a Yellow Ochre (Red Shade), all indexed at PY 43 and of similar although not identical chroma. You're also presenting a Natural Red Iron Oxide alongside a Natural Venetian Red, both indexed by PR 102 and not easy to distinguish even with masstones placed next to each other. What need are you trying to meet with this?

Please comment on one color in particular. I love neutral colors, but you would have to be one serious painting geek to look over your palette and lament the absence of Cassel Earth. My admittedly ancient copy of Ralph Mayer describes it as "not permanent."

You've manufactured what may be the most beautiful gray paint I've ever seen: Ardoise Gray. What's in it?

You've also come out with a line of new fluid colors which I would characterize as delightfully perverse (my favorite, just for the name, is Fluid Interference Cyan/Violet), a regular and an irridescent workable medium, and a transparent ground. Any thoughts on those?

In an earlier conversation you expressed doubt that stores were going to want to make shelf space for colors that in some respects might be esoteric. If that happens, how do you make them available? Too, do you sometimes have an intellectual or creative motivation to put out new materials that potentially outweighs a commercial downside?

Mark Golden responded:

Franklin, thanks so much for the questions. Your first impulse is correct. We are a bunch of color junkies. We take every opportunity we can to find and evaluate new colors. We look at dozens of new colors every year. Most of these are simply too close to other products we offer or of limited value (even for color techies). For those colors that we've agreed we'd like to investigate further, we then work with the supplier or manufacturer to find out some of the product specifics. Stability, lightfastness, consistency of manufacture or procurement and how stable is the company that is producing it. Over the years we've lost so many great colors we've introduced simply because the manufacturer was not serious about producing the product.

The new earth colors were a hit here as soon as we saw them. We could have just tried to introduce a few of them as experimental colors, but our entire technical team saw value in introducing all of them. They are, as far as we can confirm, naturally mined earth colors. This was exciting, to introduce the largest grouping of naturally dug colors, so we were very interested in finding more about these products. Currently, although the manufacturer suggests the products are absolutely lightfast, we are conducting our own tests internally. We have done a quick test of these colors within our own accelerated UV cabinet, but it will require tests run through December before we can confirm more standardized results for lightfastness on all the colors. So I can't right now answer you about the Cassel Earth, but we'll be sure to post results on these products as soon as testing is complete. The Ardoise Gray is a Slate or the English version would be Davies Gray.

These are incredibly subtle colors and your first observation that some of them are close is correct. But as soon as you begin to thin them down and get their undertones you'll begin to see why we needed to have every one of them. Tinting the colors with white also tends to provide a much wider range of difference as well. You've noticed that some of the colors will have the same color index number. This simply notes that the basic chemistry for these products is the same, yet the differences in the minor components of these colors and where they are mined are sufficient to create, in some cases, very different hues, tints and undertones.

As for those flipping colors, ever since we introduced the incredible color travel pigments, the Panspectra Colors, we've been searching for products that offer some of the same qualities. We've found some with opaque character and some with transparent character. As you can imagine we couldn't decide so we've been introducing them all as soon as we can make them stable and assure the necessary degree of lightfastness.

The Workable Ground is a sleeper product. We've been playing with it here and everyone is giddy over the results. You can't describe this product in words - you need to work with it or see it being worked. The product is truly the closest thing we've come to to a sculpting medium for painters. It is going to be one of those products that we won't find out how good this stuff is for years from now.

The Transparent Ground started as a pastel medium and morphed into a ground for many purposes. It continues to be explored as a base for pastels. Its transparency allows for use on papers or on other painted surfaces without obscuring the image or color underneath.

Finally, although there are new products that seemingly have no chance for commercial success, we do not introduce products that we aren't excited about. Sometimes the feedback allows us to generate more internal energy to commit to finding alternatives, or a small measure of success that allows us to take a larger risk with a new product. The most difficult part of this process is that these new products are made in such small quantities that it creates a high price tag for them. I think this can cause a false negative for a product's success. It might have been a very exciting product for many artists, but the cost simply put it out of the reach for artists to experiment with. We continue to work with the process to bring costs down, so that we can make these experimental items quicker and cheaper. We've just reset the entire Custom Lab work stations and work flow to begin to get a handle on these amazing products. Thanks for the interest.

Regards, Mark




May 28, 2007, 9:19 PM

Thanks for sharing that. I love Golden colors and have been phasing out my older tubes of other brands. Some of those new products sound exciting.



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