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Cal's Blog

Studio Wall Colors

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Note: This article was originally posted in 2012. I have used this paint many times in several locations over the years. I've have been very statisfied with the results. If you are interested in a different neutral color check-out our Munsell Reference Tool.

I am very happy with both the color match and result of painting my white studio Mohegan Sage (from Home Depot). However, the next time I am required to paint a studio I will strongly consider a neutral-cool gray rather than Mohegan Sage. Mohegan Sage without large levels of natural or high UV lighting can appear too green (especially with warm lighting less than 3000 Kelvin). The color is best suited for figures and portraits but am not convinced it is ideal for still life work. William Bouguereau was known to have used a neutral-cool gray in his studios as do several other highly accomplished contemporary painters.

Update! June 11th, 2012: After obtaining a sample card from Ace Hardware which carries BM's Mohegan Sage I took it to my local Home Depot. I wanted to compare it to the RGB information I determined previously. Its way off!

The RGB's previously computed below were taken directly from BEHR website's via Adobe Photoshop color hex identification selector. These values were then converted to the nearest Munsell notation.

They are correct but only if your dealing with monitor colors, not swatches of paint. Olive Leaf S-H-760 is much, much darker on the actual swatch card in comparison. A better choice would be BEHR's Wild Rice 780D-7.

I did indeed ask the paint attendant if they could match BM's Mohegan Sage; they can and did. I painted my studio with just under 2 gallons which equates to approx. 624 sq feet. I decided to leave the 4th wall white to focus the attention towards the still life setup location.

White walls in museums, galleries and studio spaces are largely due to Modernism. For centuries artists knew that slightly warm or slightly cool neutral studio wall colors gave them ideal art making environments which kept fast color and composition. There is a large consensus among classical realists today that one of the best paints to paint one's studio is by Benjamin Moore called Mohegan Sage.

For those without a Benjamin Moore retailer I've done some research into a Home Depot alternative. For those familiar with the Munsell color system, we unfortunately don't have an exact match for BM's Mohegan Sage in the chip set since it falls between measures. We are forced to make a visual [reasonable if not subjective] decision on what number to assign it. My eyes wholeheartedly agree with what has been established over at Rational Painting that Mohegan Sage should fall infinitely near 10Y 3.5/1. I rather clumsily translated this into 10Y3/2 inside the newly released MunsellDG application for iOS platforms. This gives us a RGB psuedo-equivalent of R:76, G:72, B:55 on the computer screen.

The closest match to this RGB profile from BEHR Premium Plus, at the time of this post, was R:77, G:73, B:60. The color is named: Olive Leaf S-H-760 Wild Rice 780D-7. It should be acceptable for all but the most discerning painters who might prefer a slightly bluish neutral.

Now there is financial consideration. I have collected several zip codes to try to get a (non-scientific) average in regards to regional pricing. A base gallon interior of BM's MS, started at $34.99 (assuming flat finish) with a range of up to $59.99 per gallon. Alternatively, the Home Depot BEHR Premium Plus brand is $24.57 per gallon (also assuming a flat finish). Walls are typically painted with eggshell finish (falling somewhere between flat and semi-gloss) though I've assumed we all would desire to minimize any sort of reflective properties in our neutral painting environment.