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What does “hue” mean on tubes of paint?

by | May 23, 2019 | Art Lessons | 0 comments

Recently I received an email from one of my students with this question:

I read that colors that have HUE in their title have white added to them and therefore can be a bit chalky and as a result it’s impossible to get the brightest color from them. I always thought (prior to this) they just had less pigment and more filler.

“Hue” in a color title can be about a cheaper version of a color. The factory can use additives to make the color look similar to the original, without using the original ingredients. While lowering cost, a drawback is that “hue” versions don’t work as well in keeping the correct color as you tint it with white.

New formulas that attempt to simulate the original color are another reason for the use of “hue” on the label. For example, Alizarin Crimson doesn’t stay the same color permanently (very fugitive). In contrast, Alizarin Crimson Hue is a stable color version of it. It is a slightly different color, but at least you can count on it looking the same as when you painted it. And if you are like me, I’ve never used the original version of Alizarian Crimson so I don’t miss it, and enjoy the longevity of the dependable hue version.

You will also here “hue” meaning color – but this isn’t what they mean if you see in the name on a tube of paint.

In general, buy the best paint you can afford to work with, to avoid trying to struggle against your materials. There are some student-grade paints that are so horrible that I cannot manage to paint with them. I feel so bad for anyone new to painting who thinks their problem is a lack of skill!

A few of my favorite brands:

Oil: Gamblin, Rembrandt, some Blick (generic brand)

Acrylic: Golden – especially the slow-drying OPEN line

My best advice is to buy small tubes and try them out for yourself! Keep painting and keep your questions coming!