- Pigment Numbers: PG7 PY74 PBk7
- Lightfastness Rating: ASTM I
- Pigment Opacity: Transparent
- Paint Opacity: Semi-Transparent
- Series 2
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Hooker’s Green is a modern version of a color originally invented by William Hooker who was a botanical illustrator working for the Royal Horticultural Society who needed a dark green color for painting the many dark green leaves he had to paint. This was in the early years of the 19th century. He found that a mixture of Prussian Blue and Gamboge which was a pigment made from the bark of a tree from Cambodia, make the exact sort of dark rich green that he needed. Gamboge was very similar to the modern Aureolin but unfortunately it was very fugitive. in the period around the beginning of the 19th century Hooker was very well known in London and his illustrations greatly admired and so many other artists saw and wanted some of his dark green color and it wasn’t long before all colormen were making Hooker’s Green watercolors. John Sell Cotman, the watercolorist, helped popularize the color. His Greta Bridge painting of 1805 made extensive use of it. The color did appear in some oil paint ranges but it was as a watercolor that it was most popular during the 19th century because so many landscape artists of the day were using watercolors and the color was especially useful for landscape painters.
The permanency issue was a problem, though. At first a substitute was developed by replacing the gamboge with Cadmium Yellow Medium but it didn’t have the olive quality of the original. Eventually a coal tar dye was developed with a suitable color that resembled the mixture with gamboge and there was initial belief that it was permanent. That proved to be illusory and when ASTM testing became widespread at the end of the 20th century many artists discovered to their horror just how impermanent it proved to be. Since then various modern and genuinely permanent mixtures have been developed to match the Hooker’s Green shade. Some artists prefer to make it themselves by mixing Phthalo Blue with Aureolin or Yellow Oxide but most prefer the more accurate mix available in the tube.
It is when using Hooker’s Green on the palette that it is easy to understand why this color remains popular after so long. Dark greens or found everywhere in nature but they tend to be the sort of olive types of green like this. Hooker’s Green has only two real uses – making greens that you are likely to see in nature and as a darkener for other greens. It is always better to darken a color by using a related but darker color rather than black which would drain the color out of the resulting mixture. Only recommended where draining the color is what is needed.
Making natural greens is very easy. Mix Hooker’s Green with Australian Yellow Green for a very rich range of forest greens suitable for rainforest and verdant landscapes. An earthier sort of green comes from using Iso Yellow for the mixture and Yellow Oxide or Raw Sienna make mixtures that are earthier again. A quite different green comes from using a light lemon yellow such as Nickel Titanate and a grayed gum tree sort of grayish green is created by the mixing of Hooker’s Green with Naples Yellow Light. Both John Sell Cotman and William Hooker would be very envious of the many excellent yellows the modern artist has to mix with Hooker’s Green but they would also both be very pleased that the color that they loved so much continues to be an artist’s favorite.