My Favourite Colour

Cadmium Orange

Every artist has a favourite colour – a shade they use all the time, and which features strongly in their work. Here Paul Apps explains why he could not be without Cadmium Orange

When I was asked to write about what is, for me, the best colour in the world to use in my work, I was hard pressed to make a decision about any particular one. Kings Blue Light jumps right into the frame, as does genuine Naples Yellow Light. But although these are certainly contenders, they’re beaten into second place by Cadmium Orange, which stands head and shoulders above all others.

‘Golden Majesty ’
This recent work started life as a demonstration at one of my workshops on Africa. I liked the result and completed the image soon after. I used the idea of a rather distant cool evening light to create the blues and violets of the background and predominantly the lion too. This led me to use Cadmium Orange to its greatest effect and display the backlighting of the cat’s fur as it glows in the warm light of the setting sun.

One look at my palette will show the telltale signs of Cadmium Orange’s prolific use and in most of my work its presence is clearly evident. Though it is a bright colour untouched I rarely use it so pure, but I am not frightened to do so when I feel that it is right.

To me the rendering of atmosphere and, particularly, light in any of my paintings is essential. So while I try to make full use of many mid-tones to explore these important areas, I use complementary colour in various values to ultimately drive home my intent.

So why Cadmium Orange? Well it is a very powerful pigment; a firecracker of a colour which, left to its own devices, will soon run wildly out of control. It cannot be left alone for very long, it needs a mate to work with, and being a secondary colour its best friend is a primary colour - blue. All blues love orange. Providing these pigments sit side by side they are working together not so much in harmony, but rather to react in each other’s presence. Place them or mix them at your peril: mixed they will become each other’s own worst enemy and cancel the intensity of the chroma.


‘Morning Flush’
By contrast this painting is full of complementary values as direct reference. The use of cool and warm colours is evident in every passage across the entire composition. As I have said, I paint light and atmosphere and here I have tried to evoke the warm light of an early winter’s morning; the reference photos and sketches for this were taken in early January.

More often than not the strength of colour of Cadmium Orange is tempered by the addition of white, yellow or another warm colour, or by mixing with numerous variations of blues.

This creates an almost limitless number of mid tones of a grey value. Due to the cooling nature of adding blues, the subtle degrees of contrast between warm and cool can be controlled to great effect. Then placing them against a more pure version will set one or the other off to fantastic effect.

For details of Paul’s workshops and to enjoy more of his paintings visit www.paulapps.com or telephone 01303 265126.


My Favourite Colour

Cadmium Orange

Every artist has a favourite colour – a shade they use all the time, and which features strongly in their work. Here Paul Apps explains why he could not be without Cadmium Orange

When I was asked to write about what is, for me, the best colour in the world to use in my work, I was hard pressed to make a decision about any particular one. Kings Blue Light jumps right into the frame, as does genuine Naples Yellow Light. But although these are certainly contenders, they’re beaten into second place by Cadmium Orange, which stands head and shoulders above all others.

One look at my palette will show the telltale signs of Cadmium Orange’s prolific use and in most of my work its presence is clearly evident. Though it is a bright colour untouched I rarely use it so pure, but I am not frightened to do so when I feel that it is right.

To me the rendering of atmosphere and, particularly, light in any of my paintings is essential. So while I try to make full use of many mid-tones to explore these important areas, I use complementary colour in various values to ultimately drive home my intent.

‘Golden Majesty ’
This recent work started life as a demonstration at one of my workshops on Africa. I liked the result and completed the image soon after. I used the idea of a rather distant cool evening light to create the blues and violets of the background and predominantly the lion too. This led me to use Cadmium Orange to its greatest effect and display the backlighting of the cat’s fur as it glows in the warm light of the setting sun.

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