I already had the next painting in my head while I was painting Dive in. They are kind of related, in the same way as night and day are related. I thought 'Oh good, everything is flowing with Tao'. Then I remembered that I had run out of vermilion, which will be a key pigment in the next painting. In a way I was reassured, because the obstacles to completing a painting are very much part of the process, so I took it as an indication that I was on the right track. It is important for me to remain determinedly optimistic when creating works of art!
In my search for a new tube of vermillion, I checked for its lightfastness. I found a very good chart, www.artiscreation.com/Color_index_names.html and from that it appeared that the mercury based vermilion pigment darkened with age. This was confirmed by Wikipedia. The sky fell to earth as I considered how long I had been using vermilion in my paintings, and how its darkening would dramatically change the balance of colour in them.
I so love vermilion. It is a magical colour to me, because it is so versatile and mixes to wonderful effect. For example, if you mix it with magenta you get an unexpected and beautiful cherry red.
It is a colour used a lot in chinese painting and prints. In fact I'm seen it referred to as 'true red' in contemporary Chinese websites. I have great affinity with the philosophy, style and techniques of Chinese and Japanese art, so maybe that accounts for my appreciation of vermilion. It appears almost always in the plants that are mostly my subjects. I also find it a very useful pigment for creating flesh tone, which I would like to do more of in the future.
However, it seemed I had no choice but to revert to cadmium red, which was a colour I used before I discovered vermilion. It is a more blue-ish red but is definitely lightfast, which is why artists gave up vermilion for it when it was first available in the 20th century.
When the paint arrived I was downcast. Cadmium red is just boring to me. It was as if someone had taken away my ferari and had replaced it with a twenty year old ford fiesta. A lot of the joy would go out of painting if I used it. Not that I actually own a ferari, but I can dream.
With the paint was a colour chart for my favorite Old Holland paints. I'd always bought their vermilion before, but had been unable to check what pigment they used this time, as I'd lost the chart. With the new colour chart I was able to see that the pigment in their vermilion was nothing to do with mercury and is 100 % lightfast. All is well in the world again.
Now I just have to send the cadmium red back. This means a further delay in starting the painting, and all the time the subject is moving from maturity to a ripe old age. It will soon be at the stage when it does not posess the range of colour to create the image I had in my mind. So maybe everything is going according to plan, as the final painting is rarely the thing I invision.