Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Terra Verte: Colour of the Month #8

Historically, terra verte, green earth or argilla verde was the pigment for flesh undertones. It was used as the first layer, which neutralised the effect of pink and reds of flesh colours used by artists during Medieval and Renaissance times. 

Terra verte
‘Fleshtone green’

Etymology: terra verte
Source: mineral earth
Chemical name: iron silicate with clay
Colour range: pale to bright green

Photo: internet

It is a natural green pigment varying in composition and green tones. It is not an ochre, which means it is not an iron oxide but an iron silicate with clay. This can be seen from the green faces in some Medieval egg tempera painting, and over time the reddish/pink layers have faded. This green earth is a very permanent colour.

Painting with pink direct onto the white gesso of the canvas, would achieve a sunburn effect in the skin of figures in painting. Therefore, green was used as the first layer of the painting. It was the ideal green colour for underpainting European faces.

Photo: Duccio, The Annunciation, 1311

Originally, this natural earth was mined near Verona in Italy until 1940 known as 'Verona green' and other sources include Poland and France. It is very compatible to oils used as binders. Widely used by Medieval Italian artists. 

Historically, There were several underpainting colour pigments used such as terra verde, verdaccio, grisaille and morellone.

Photo: Kujawa. Colour Alchimia workshop at School of Form in Poland

Verdaccio was another green pigment used in Italy by mixing black, white and yellow pigments that resulted in a soft, greenish brown colour. Its most popular use was to bring light and life to fleshtones.

Interested in experimenting with this colour pigment? 
Join us in the upcoming Colour Alchimia workshop.
More info

IG. @studio.laura.daza, @colour_alchimia