What are modern or organic colors? In this category you find both natural organic pigments and synthetic organic pigments. Organic pigments derive from carbon chemistry while natural organic pigments derive from natural animal or vegetable sources. For instance, Madder Lake is an extract from the root of the madder plant, carmine from the cochineal insect. Indian Yellow was manufactured from the urine of cows which were force fed mango leaves.

Indian Yellow pigment

Nowadays, these paints have been replaced, reproduced and manufactured in a laboratory setting using complex carbon chemistry as its base. These new paints, which are often difficult to pronounce, are more vibrant and flexible than traditional paints. Hence, Quinacridones, Dioxazines, Diarylides, Azo-type, Anthraquinones, Perylenes, Naphthols, Perinones, Phthalos, pigments fall into this category.

Although it is possible to make your own paint using pigment and a binding medium for dispersion, such as GAC 100 from Golden Artist Colors, proper ventilation and wearing a respirator are of prime importance. Modern colors (organic) tend to look like stained glass pieces under a microscope and have a very small particle size. These colors are mostly transparent and are excellent for glazing. Mineral or inorganic colors have a denser particle size and are more opaque.

An interesting tidbit is that pigments are chosen based on the needs of the car and plastic industry. In other words, as artists we represent a very small proportion of the paint market which leaves us susceptible to color market shifts in popularity. The good, news, however, is that car manufacturers insist on good lightfastness for their pigments and this, in turn, helps the artist with their color permanence requirements.