What the Hue?

Spar250You may have noticed that some paints have the word ‘hue’ after their name. For example: there is alizarin crimson, and alizarin crimson hue. The word “hue” on a tube or jar of paint means that it is a man-made substitute for the original pigment. Originally, alizarin was made from the madder plant, and the colour was fugitive and would fade drastically. In 1868, a German scientist discovered a way of chemically creating a pigment that would not fade, and was therefore a much better choice for artists. But a word of caution. Some ‘hues’ have been created because the original pigment is very expensive, and the manufacturers wanted a cheaper alternate. In that case, the hue may not be as permanent as the original pigment. The best way to be sure is to learn to read permanency and lightfastness ratings on whichever brand of paint you use. Any good artist quality paint manufacturer will give you that information on each colour, right on the tube or jar. And by the way, the science of creating pigments chemically is very challenging. Not every colour can be reproduced this way. There has been no success in finding a safer alternative to toxic manganese blue, which is rarely seen in artist paints these days.