A Theory of Two Georges
12 April, 2010 by
A Theory of Two Georges
Jon Cone

There is the theory that a few colors can reproduce everything else, and I think of the great French painter Georges Seurat. In the latter part of the 19th century, Seurat painted dots of red, green, blue and other primary colors to recreate nature in our brain. Our eyes fill in most of the complimentary color due to the way human vision works. Pointillism in the years before the 20th century produced works such as Seurat’s The Seine and la Grande Jatte – Springtime, 1888.

And actually this is how most inkjet printing is done. Dots of cyan, magenta, yellow and black are printed adjacent to each other and the eye mixes them together to reproduce many different hues. Now, much of black and white printing is created with dots of cyan, magenta, yellow and black dots of inks such as found with Epson’s ABW. Recently, I have come to learn that many photographers are now using black ink only in QTR software colored to their preferred tone with dots of cyan, magenta and yellow in order to assimilate tone. I’ve never found printing primary colors in order to tone black ink very satisfying.

George Seurat, The Seine and la Grande Jatte – Springtime, 1888.

But then there is the theory of the economy of color and I think of the great American painter George Inness, who at the end of the 19th century, influenced by the mysticism of Emanuel Swedberg, painted the atmosphere of the Hudson River Valley. With a “soup” of color restricted to that which he was seeing, he was able to capture its murky light. Instead of reds, and blues and greens, he made neutrals and browns and warm and cool glazes of transparency in a style which became known as Tonalism. Though Inness handled paint like an abstract expressionist, it was the quality of the light that he painted that allowed the brain of the viewer to sense a deeper mysticism and mood within his painting. And this is how Piezography ink works, by restricting the pigment to a single pigment such as the warmth of carbon, or several closely related pigments mixed with carbon.

George Inness, Sunset on the Passaic, 1891.

A lot of well meaning, but mis-informed inkjet “experts” have opined that Piezography ink is simply a blend of cyan, magenta yellow, and black inks and therefore no different than Epson ABW. But, these “experts” opine about things which they simply do not know, or perhaps they attempt to group Piezography inks with low-tech and lesser quality third-party inks which these experts are more familiar with. Yes, some of the Piezography inks are blended, but not with magenta, cyan and yellow. To the contrary, the pigments that are available to Piezography are modified carbons – some warmer and other cooler, but related to the tone which the ink intends to produce. An economy of color in which the resultant light of a Piezography print has depth and mood that cannot be realized by blending magenta, cyan and yellow with carbon. And can’t be reproduced by printing dots of cyan, magenta and yellow ink adjacent to carbon.

Two different theories of capturing light with pigment. Two different effects.Two different Georges.

A Theory of Two Georges
Jon Cone
12 April, 2010
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