What Does "Hue" Mean on Your Paint Tube?

What Does “Hue” Mean on Your Paint Tube?

Have you ever seen or used paint that was listed on the paint tube as “Hue”? For example Cobalt Blue Hue, rather than Cobalt Blue. Do you know what the word “Hue” means with regard to paint pigments? Years ago when I first saw this on a paint jar, I wasn’t sure what it meant. It was less expensive so I thought maybe the paint was not as high in quality as the regular paint. I was wrong, and maybe you have been too.

I’m going to use the example of Cobalt Blue. The color Cobalt Blue is typically a mineral pigment made from minerals including Cobalt, which is a heavy metal. As you probably know heavy metals are carcinogens, and are very toxic. Paint manufacturers realized that not everyone wants to be exposed to heavy metals in their paint, so they developed an alternative to the mineral pigments. The word “Hue” on your paint tube means the color is a man-made pigment rather than a mineral pigment. It’s less expensive because there is no heavy metal in it - Cobalt and other heavy metals are expensive. Other typical heavy metals used in mineral pigment production are chromium (Chromium Blue or Chromium Green-sometimes shortened to Chrome Green) and cadmium (Cadmium Yellow or Cadmium Red).

Cobalt Blue Hue is man-made through the process of organic chemistry. The man-made pigment approximates the color of true Cobalt Blue. I always use the man-made pigments rather than the mineral pigments if I have the option. I spend a fair amount of time with paint on my hands, and using paint without heavy metals added is important to me. I’m also happy to pay less for the paint. I find the man-made colors usually have a higher tinting strength, and the colors are wonderful.

You may also recognize other man-made pigment names, such as quinacridone magenta, quinacridone red, dioxazine purple or benzimidazolone yellow. These funny sounding names come from the names of the major organic compounds used to create the paint pigments. While man-made pigments don’t contain heavy metal, it doesn’t mean they are non-toxic. ALL paint has some level of toxicity and should not be on your skin for long periods of time. Paint manufacturers test the toxicity of their paint on the end of a paint brush, not on the skin. So do not be mislead by labels on artist paint. Protect yourself, and be careful out there.

In summary, when the paint label says “Hue”, the paint pigment is man-made from organic compounds. The man-made pigments are less expensive, less toxic, have better color and usually higher tinting strength than their mineral counterparts. So what’s not to like?

If you'd like to learn about abstract painting, then please join me for a painting workshop: (You can view a list of 2019 workshops HERE)

  • February 6-8, 2019 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration Click Here. FULL-Waiting List

  • March 5-8 Cultural Arts Alliance, Santa Rosa Beach, FL. For information and registration contact Bonnie Loman. Email: pghsteeler1@icloud.com.

  • March 15-17 Helen Day Center, Stowe, VT. For information and registration contact Danielle Naylor. Email: education@helenday.com.

  • March 27-29, 2019 Amarillo Art Institute, Amarillo, TX. For information and registration contact Rachel Flores, Email: director@amarilloartinstitute.org.

  • April 12-14, 2019 Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, Florence, AL. For information and registration contact Christi Britton. Email: cbritton@florenceal.org.

  • April 24-26, 2019 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration Click Here. FULL-Waiting List

As always, thanks for your support!


P.S. If you you'd like to learn more about Abstract Painting in the comfort of your home or studio, I have a great course called Abstract Painting Academy available for you:

Abstract Painting Academy is the next best thing to a live workshop event. You can find out more by Clicking Here.

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