Winsor & Newton recently added nine new Cadmium-Free Artists’ Oil Colors to the range. Cadmium is a heavy metal that can be toxic to humans and animals. Winsor & Newton is offering these new cadmium-free alternatives while keeping the original cadmium paints in the Artists’ Color line.
My Take on Cadmium Oil Colors
Just between you and me, I’ve never been a frequent user of cadmium colors with the exception of cadmium yellow. A couple tubes of cadmium orange and red are always kicking around in my studio, however they’ve just never been in high rotation on my palette. No doubt handling and health issues caused my reluctance to use cadmium colors, but there was an even bigger reason I rarely used them.
I’m almost hesitant to admit this as a painter, but I really don’t care for cadmium red and orange. Crazy I know. I obviously use them if they capture a specific hue that the painting calls for. However, in most cases bluer reds and yellow-oranges draw me in. Cadmium red and cadmium orange’s more eclectic next-door neighbors on the color wheel call to me more loudly. But now that reliable cadmium-free alternatives are available I’ll be replacing any cadmium colors that I do use with their cadmium-free alternatives.
Winsor & Newton’s Statement on Cadmium
“Cadmium pigments are much loved by artists due to their ability to deliver intensely bright, lightfast results. But cadmium is a heavy metal and although there is no globally harmonised view, there are some concerns about its safety. Areas such as California require a warning statement to be shown on every cadmium paint, while others, such as the European Union, consider it safe. The level of soluble cadmium in the pigments is so low that no hazard warnings are needed and they pose no greater risk after swallowing or breathing in than other pigment types. Cadmium pigments are restricted for certain applications but this restriction does not apply to artists’ colours.
Our cadmium-free colours hold the Approved Product (AP) seal and are completely safe to use. They are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems.”
As far as performance, all of the cadmium colors and their cadmium-free alternatives are rated by Winsor & Newton as opaque. Likewise, all the cadmiums and cadmium-free oils are considered permanent with an A permanence rating. And, all of the cadmium-free colors have a lightfastness rating of “I” for excellent lightfastness just like the original cadmium colors. The carrier oil for Cadmium-Free Lemon, Yellow, Yellow Pale, Yellow Deep, and Green Pale is safflower oil. Linseed oil is the carrier oil for Cadmium-Free Orange, Scarlet, Red, and Red Deep. Winsor & Newton haven’t listed the pigment codes for the 9 cadmium-free oils on the website nor on the tubes as of yet.
“Our team has replicated cadmium’s signatures: its bright masstone, its undertone for subtleties in thin layers, its tinting ability, viscosity, opacity and flow, and its archival lightfastness. Plus, to give an authentic experience, the weight of the cadmium-free paint in the tube has been carefully matched.”
9 New Winsor Newton Cadmium-Free Artists’ Oil Colors
Note: Winsor & Newton previously launched cadmium-free versions of their Professional Watercolors and Designer’s Gouache. At this time no other Winsor & Newton paint lines have cadmium-free alternatives. No word on whether or not that is something that Winsor & Newton plan on rolling out in the future.
See handcrafted swatches of the Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Color range in the Art Swatch Gallery. The Cadmium-Free Artists’ Oil Colors to be added shortly.