Notebook, 1993-


Hiding Power

The tinting strength of paint is closely connected with its hiding power. This is to a large extent dependent on the structure of the pigment particles. Genuine Naples yellow [lead antimoniate] "covers" better than a mixture of cadmium yellow and zinc white, which may look the same. Ochers containing clay have greater hiding power than those containing chalk. Raw sienna, a similar iron hydroxide containing silicates, is less opaque. Green earth is known for its markedly low covering strength! Hiding power necessarily depends on the vehicle used. Glue paints always cover better than oil pants. This is why in practice different types of pigment are chosen. For instance, one distinguishes between ocher for glue paint and ocher for oil paint. Pigments like light red not only change their hiding power in different kinds of emulsions but even their shade, a physical consequence of their particle size and dispersibility. Painters usually want their blacks to have high opacity [e.g., india ink]. This does not always apply to white. The old masters knew when to choose an opaque white and when a transparent one. Hiding power is of no interest with madder, Prussian blue, viridian, ultramarine, Indian yellow, or its substitute. This applies in principle to all glazing colors. [p. 64]

[Wehlte, Kurt. The Materials and Techniques of Painting. Translated by Ursus Dix. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. 1975.]



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