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Colour of the Month: Lemon Yellow

04/08/2024 |

What brightens our mood in spring? The rays of the sun, naturally. The perfect colour for that is lemon yellow – a transparent, refreshing light yellow with a slight tinge of green. Alongside light green and violet, lemon yellow gives us a springlike combination of colours. Just what we want to see in April. Lemon yellow primroses beside violet hyacinths nestled among delicate blades of grass captivate our gaze. That's why lemon yellow is an ideal colour for painting spring. But behind this colour, there are some interesting facts, too.


Valued as a colour for light, but not yet light-fast

Originally, lemons hail from Asia, where they were cultivated as long ago as 400 BC. In the 11th century, they were traded to Europe, that is to Sicily and Andalusia to be more exact. Lemons were a luxury commodity. They were valued as remedies for illness and decorative objects. In art, too, where fruit bowls with lemons were painted as an extravagant motif. In Dutch paintings, lemon yellow was used to depict light in dimly lit rooms or to add highlights in portraits. 

But those areas of an artwork painted in lemon yellow faded, as for a long time the colour was not light-fast. It was made with the help of sap or with thinned lead tin yellow. It was not until 1911 that chemists developed an azo pigment with the name "hansa yellow". At KREUL, we, too, use monoazo pigments for the yellow colours in our artists‘ acrylic paints. Yellow pigment 3 gives the Citron colour in SOLO GOYA Acrylic its characteristic cool colour, which is light-fast of course.

Harmonious combinations with Lemon Yellow

Lemon Yellow looks particularly refreshing with other cool, light colours like light blue, turquoise or green. The cold shades add up to produce a harmonious colour combination that is ideal for landscape painting or in an abstract colour spectacle. We are totally fascinated by the effect of SOLO GOYA Acrylic Citron and Light Blue. 

The complementary colour for Lemon Yellow is violet. The dark and intense colour makes the light, cold yellow really pop. Lots of artists use this effect in their paintings. For instance, Henri Matisse with his 1937 painting of a “Woman in a Purple Coat” in which he skilfully placed a lavender shade next to yellow flowers and a lemon.

What do you have to remember when using Lemon Yellow?

On account of the properties of its pigments, Lemon Yellow is a transparent to semi-transparent colour. In painting, this property can be utilzed to best effect by applying Lemon Yellow direct onto a white surface. The light painting surface shines through, making the soft yellow really glow. 

If you paint Lemon Yellow over another darker colour, you can’t see it very easily. We therefore recommend that you only use semi-transparent colours like SOLO GOYA Acrylic Citron on light-coloured areas or lighten up dark areas with white first.