Terra cotta is a clay-like, earthy reddish color. Neutral in aspect, it is not a bright, brassy red but a subdued and warm one. The name is from the Italian term. It translates to "cooked earth." It is familiar from pottery, and also from floor tiles. To use terra cotta colors in your painting, whether you are rendering a subject made from terra cotta or just want to employ some if its pleasing warmth, there are options that you can use out of the tube, and you can also mix it. Colors that come under the terra cotta rubric cover a range from a more brownish version to a subtle pink.
Terra rosa, or pink earth, is a semi-opaque color. This means that it will cover well, but is not completely opaque like a cadmium color. Made from an iron oxide harvested from the earth, it pigments strongly, so the color will go a long way. It has an orange tinge. You can see the tinge well when you mix it with zinc white.
Pozzuoli earth is similar to terra rosa, but not as strong. It uses the same basic pigment as terra rosa, but is processed slightly differently to bring out different aspects of the pigment. It is not as deep and dark in color as the terra rosa, and lends itself well to tinting. It's a good choice for a medium-rich terra cotta color.
Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red and Zinc White
Burnt sienna and zinc white make a very serviceable terra cotta mixed with a little cadmium red. The burnt sienna provides the earthiness needed to approach the terra cotta, and the cadmium red adds a dash of pink. Zinc white is the ideal choice for tinting. It makes a clean, clear tint. Titanium white, while stronger, is muddier when combined with other colors.
Venetian Red and Zinc White
Venetian red is a classic red earth color. It was often used by Venetian painters as an underpainting to produce luminosity in a painting. When mixed with zinc white, it produces a lovely, rich terra cotta hue. The intensity of the terra color can be modulated by adding more or less white to your blend.
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