Thursday, 21 August 2014

Ultramarine, Mid yellow and Magenta - a gorgeous basic bright triad with Ultramarine.

I wrote a post about this set here in May 2013. I wanted to have another look at them, so here is the amazing range you can get with Ultramarine Finest Schmincke PB29, Purple Magenta PR122 Schmincke and Hansa Yellow Medium PY97 Daniel Smith, though Schmincke Pure Yellow would do the same thing. Or if using W&N, Winsor Yellow, the more granulating French Ultramarine and Quinacridone Magenta.
If you want to add a 4th to create neutral browns and greys more quickly, add an orange - a bright orange as seen here or a Burnt Sienna as seen here

Other Burnt Sienna options are shown here

This is an alternative to the beautiful bright quartet using Phthalo Blue Red Shade shown here.

Alternative primary red options are the more crimson W&N Permanent Alizarin, DS Carmine or DV Permanent Alizarin Quinacridone. I prefer the more crimson primary reds, but nothing I have used mixes cleaner than PR122.

Ultramarine and Oranges - looking for a neutralising pair.

My previous post showed what is possible with a quartet of transparent non-granulating colours based around Phthalo Blue RS and Transparent Pyrrol Orange D.S. See here

But what if you don't mind granulation and love Ultramarine but still want a really bright limited palette?

In this sketch book tests I was looking for an orange to neutralise with Ultramarine to create blacks, greys, deep blues and browns the way Burnt Sienna does.

Row 1 - a tiny dot sample of W&N new limited edition Transparent Orange PO171with their limited edition Phthalo Saphhire which is very like Phthalo blue RS. This mix makes greens rather than greys and black.

Row 2 - W&N Transparent Orange mixed with DS Ultramarine. This looks promising but I ran out of my dots sample! I'll add to this if I get some more. It is a lovely orange, though incredibly similar to the Schmincke PO71 version :-)
On the right is the more red Transparent Pyrrol Orange DS - made from the same PO71 as Schmincke Transparent Orange seen in row 3, but, as is often the case, it doesn't mix in the same way. It is so important to know the brand, colour name AND pigment numbers to be able to match a particular paint mix.

Row 3 - W&N Phthalo Sapphire next to DS Phthalo Blue RS - you can see how similar they are. Then Schmincke Transparent Orange and DV Benzimida Orange PO36 which are also very similar though perhaps the Benzimida Orange is cleaner and slightly less yellow? I then mixed Benzimida Orange with Ultramarine - creates a wonderful range of earthy browns, greys, black and deep blues :-) Very similar to the mixes I get using Burnt Sienna and ultramarine.

4 - Ultramarine blue mixed with Schmincke Transparent Orange. These are also lovely lively colours with a hint more yellow perhaps.

5 - Phthalo Blue RS with Benzimida Orange and they don't neutralise, though they do produce lovely greens. (even better with Phthalo blue GS!)

So the perfect neutralising bright orange for DS ultramarine seems to be Da Vinci Benzimida Orange or Schmincke Transparent Orange with W&N Transparent orange looking promising. Three different pigments, three very similar colours.

Would they be the same with other brands of Ultramarine?

To see Ultramarine mixed with Purple Magenta and Hansa Yellow medium, click here

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Colour exploration - 4 bright, non-granulating watercolours - an amazing quartet. (updated)

I have been exploring limited palette options again and came up with this set. This is an unusual palette of watercolours for me as it doesn't contain Ultramarine, my favourite blue, or Burnt Sienna, my favourite earth orange, and it does contain Quinacridone Magenta though that is not a favourite! I find it a difficult 'real world' colour and would generally rather use a rose or crimson. However, PR122 is an amazing mixing colour which, like phthalo green, can transform other colours beautifully and mixes very cleanly but is best not used alone.

This quartet of colours is designed to be transparent, bright and non granulating - a bit like working with inks - and works beautifully!

It is based around a fabulous pair of transparent watercolours - Transparent Pyrrol Orange DS and Phthalo Blue RS DS. These neutralise each other completely to create a fantastic range of greys, black, warm browns and burnt oranges. See the first colour mixing row 1.

Other manufacturers make Phthalo blue RS (or Winsor Blue RS) but I have not found an alternative brand for this orange. Schmincke make Translucent Orange with the same pigment but it is not as red. (see separate post on oranges and blues)

Hansa Yellow Medium PY97 Daniel Smith, Purple Magenta PR122 Schmincke, Phthalo Blue R.S. PB15 Daniel Smith and Transparent Pyrrol Orange PO71 Daniel Smith.
To make oranges and greens a mid yellow is added - Hansa Yellow Medium PY97 DS, though it could be Schmincke Pure Yellow or W&N Winsor Yellow or DV Hansa/Arylide Yellow Medium. This is a lovely bright yellow. 

2 -  Hansa Yellow Medium mixed with Transparent Pyrrol Orange PO71 DS 

4 - Hansa Yellow Medium mixed with Phthalo Blue RS PB15 DS to make bright greens. 

To make purples and reds and crimsons the very bright Magenta PR122 is required. This is not made by Daniel Smith (I often wonderful why not) but is available as Purple Magenta by Schmincke or Quinacridone Magenta in many other brands including W&N, Daler Rowney and Old Holland. I prefer the Schmincke version. 

3 - Mixed with the DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange it creates gorgeous reds and crimsons 

5 - Mixed with Phthalo Blue RS it makes amazing purples  

6 - I mixed Purple Magenta with Yellow as they also make wonderful oranges, reds and crimsons. 

You can see how easy it is to create bright mixes of oranges, greens and purples. 

7 - I then added a little magenta to the Phthalo Blue RS to create a warmer blue, which made more neutral greens when yellow was added 

8 - I did the same thing adding some Transparent Pyrrol Orange to the yellow to made it warmer, then adding the blue to make more mossy greens 

9 - The last row is all three primaries mixed together to create a range of darks and neutral earth hues.

Another very bright transparent and no-granulating pigment is Phthalo Green PG7. I use this for many mixes, especially to make a rich black with a crimson. I mixed it with the Purple Magenta (1 below) to see if it would neutralise to black. Like Quinacridone Rose, it makes great purples but not black. 

Mixes with my amazing quartet along with Phthalo Green PR7.
2 -  I mixed a crimson hue by mixing Transparent Pyrrol Orange with Purple Magenta, then mixed that crimson with Phthalo Green and yes - blacks and aubergines are possible. 

3 - back to my bright quartet colours, I tested the yellow to see what earth yellows I could create just with my initial 4 colours. Alone mixed with a purple made from the blue and magenta, hansa yellow medium creates some interesting cool earth colours. 

4 - With a little orange added Hansa Yellow Medium creates yellow ochre and raw sienna hues and some raw umber options.

5 - I tried mixing a crimson from the magenta and orange then creating a phthalo green hue to try to create the same aubergine and black options. It comes close, though required all four pigments. I try to steer away from 4 pigment mixes but it is possible. 

So I think a phthalo green is a useful addition if you want to limit yourself to three pigment mixes but increase to 5 bright transparent colours. And a 6th? Quinacridone Gold DS :-)

My next tests will with Ultramarine instead of Phthalo Blue RS to see if I can find a completely neutralising bright orange...

Happy painting!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Last couple of days to support The Perfect Sketchbook

The Perfect Sketchbook

This link gives you all the information about this great idea, or see my earlier Blog post

It is almost there but only a couple of days to go. Erwin has added a 10 book reward for backing $220 which is a great idea. Check it out please :-)

Winsor & Newton limited edition watercolours

I received a Winsor & Newton dot card with their limited edition water colours 'inspired by the Australian outback' at a recent art society  meeting. I love to try out new colours so here they are.

...and here they are painted out. They are each single pigment colours, which is always my preference, with some interesting characteristics. 
Yellow Titanate, Transparent Orange, Indian Red Deep, Phthalo Sapphire, Gold Brown, Dark Brown Winsor & Newton watercolours

Yellow Titanate is considered an option as a Naples yellow. It is opaque and like many versions of Yellow Ochre but this is made with PBr24. Some granulation.
Transparent Orange made with PO107 is probably the most beautiful Orange I have tried. Bright and beautiful with little colour shift, it really glows. No other manufacturers have made a watercolour with this pigment though it seems to be reliable. 
Indian Red Deep is made from PBr 25. Daniel Smith have a Permanent Brown made from the same pigment - a definite red-brown. Something like a transparent Indian Red option. 
Phthalo Saphhire is similar to a Phthalo Blue Red Shade in other brands, made with PB15:6. 
Gold Brown is apparently made from PBk12, which is curious. It says it is transparent on the chart but I found it more opaque with some interesting granulation.
Dark Brown is a very opaque and unusual brown, that has some granulation.

I tested the blue and orange to see if they would neutralise each other as DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange and DS Phthalo Blue RS do, but they don't - they make an interesting range of hues but not a neutral black. I tried the orange with ultramarine and created a more neutral grey but by then I'd run out of pigment to test any further. :-)

This orange is one I would consider buying and will compare it further with Da Vinci Benzamida Orange Deep and Daniel Smith Transparent Pyrrol Orange, my other favourite single pigment oranges. DS Quinacridone Sienna is another lovely one but a two pigment mix.
The last two swatches are the W&N phthalo sapphire next to DS Phthalo Blue RS - similar but not identical.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Watercolour Comparisons 8 - Blues

I have posted in detail about Ultramarine as a primary Blue. Here I will show comparisons of a larger range of blue watercolours from different manufacturers.


Ultramarine has been covered in more depth in a previous post. It is a warm blue so leans toward purple - they all have a hint of red in them. They will mix with a rose or pink to create beautiful clear purples, and with a yellow to make slightly neutralised greens. Here are 10 examples all made with PB29. They vary in how easily they re-wet, the amount of granulation and also slightly in hue. My favourites are Da Vinci and Daniel Smith.

Ultramarine Blue Deep Old Holland, French Ultramarine Winsor & Newton, Ultramarine Finest Schmincke, French Ultramarine Daniel Smith, Ultramarine Deep Shinhan
Ultramarine Blue DS, Ultramarine M. Graham, Ultramarine Da Vinci, Permanent Blue Daler Rowler, Ultramarine Art Spectrum.

Cobalt Blue

Closest to a primary blue in that it is neither 'greenish' nor 'purplish', Cobalt is a lovely but expensive pigment. Look for the genuine PB28 for the most beautiful and liftable granulating washes. Some artists prefer cobalt to the deeper Ultramarine as a basic blue. I have it as an 'extra'.

Cobalt Blue W&N, Cobalt Blue ShinHan, Cobalt Blue Hue Derivan, Cobalt Blue AS, Cobalt Blue DS PB28.


Cerulean varies from brand to brand but generally behaves as a cool blue making bright greens. Genuine Cerulean PB35 is slightly warmer than my preferred Cerulean Chromium PB36 DS. It is a rather opaque colour with plenty of granulation and particularly useful for skies and for mixing opaque greens. 

Cerulean Blue Derivan, Cerulean Blue W&N, Cerulean Blue (Hue) Da Vinci, Cerulean Blue DS

Cerulean Genuine DV, Cerulean Blue Chromium DS, Cerulean Blue Deep OH, Cerulean Blue Genuine DV

 Phthalo Blue

A cool and staining blue, phthalo blue is a very common colour in any palette. Available in Green Shade and Red Shade versions, with the green shade being the most common. Phthalo Blue Red Shade is another primary blue option if transparency, staining or non granulating properties are desired.

Winsor Blue W&N, Phthalo Blue GS DS, Phthalo Blue GS DV, Phthalo Blue MG, Richeson Blue (Phthalo) SQ, Phthalo Blue RS DS.

Prussian Blue

Not one of my favourites, Prussian Blue is an alternative blue if a less staining cool blue is desired. Made from PB27. Easily mixed with Phthalo Blue and a warm red.

Prussian Blue MG, Prussian Blue W&N, Prussian Blue DS, Prussian Blue DV

Deep Blues

Genuine Indigo is not light fast but the colour is very popular. It is a deep blue that can be warm or cool depending on the manufacturer. Often made with Indanthrone blue or phthalo blue and black, Da Vinci is unusual as it is made from Prussian Blue and Quinacridone Rose or Violet.
Indanthrone Blue also varies, with Daniel Smith being a warm version and Winsor and Newton a cooler. The S. Quiller example is in between. I don't often use indigo though it is rather lovely with quinacridone gold, but I love using DS Indanthrone Blue in dramatic skies.

Manganese Blue

Sadly most versions of Manganese Blue are hues and don't have the magical granulating characteristics of the genuine pigment, famous for painting snow effects. It is not an essential colour as it is not strongly tinting but quite beautiful.

Other Blues

The first three of these are mixes of little value as far as I can see. Smalt Genuine is an interesting very warm blue - almost a violet, made in a limited edition by Winsor and Newton. Lunar Blue is made of the highly granulating Lunar Black with phthalo blue and is wonderful for special effects. Daniel Smith Mayan Dark Blue is an interesting stormy blue colour thought I prefer Solalite below, Mayan Blue Genuine did nothing for me! 

Primatek Blues

These Daniel Smith colours are fascinating to try. I love the granulation of Blue Apatite Genuine and Sodalite Genuine, especially for stormy skies or a granulating grey option. Some were very disappointing.

Kyanite Genuine, blue Apitite Genuine, Azurite Genuine, Smalt Genuine, Lapis Lazuli Genuine, Vivianite Genuine, Sodalite Genuine (all Daniel Smith)

So how many to you need?

Depending on the size of your palette, you may work with just one blue such as Ultramarine or Phthalo Blue RS that you warm up or cool down as required, two blues - probably both ultramarine and phthalo blue GS, three if you want to add the granulating and more opaque cerulean, four if you want to add the deep indanthrone blue, 5 if you want a granulating special effects blue....and so it goes on. The blues you choose need to work to make a good range of greens and purples and are very important colours on your palette. I like to have at least three - Ultramarine, Phthalo blue and Cerulean PB36. My basic palette of 20 also has Indanthrone blue, and I have Blue Apatite Genuine and Sodalite genuine and some others as special effect colours in my studio.

Watercolour Comparisons 1 - Ultramarine Blue here
Watercolour Comparisons 2 - mid yellows here
Watercolour Comparisons 3 - Primary Red here
Watercolour Comparisons 4 - Burnt Sienna here
Watercolour Comparisons 5 - Greens (Single Pigment, convenience mixes and special effect) here
Watercolour Comparisons 6 - Reds (Cool, mid and warm) here
Watercolour Comparisons 7 - Yellows (cool mid and warm) here
Watercolour Comparisons 8 - Blues here

Next up - Earth Yellows.

Watercolour Comparisons 7 - Yellows

I have posted about mid yellows in a primary triad palette, but here I will show comparisons of a full range of yellows, including warm and cool yellows. I will post about earth yellows separately.

You have the choice of opaque or transparent yellows, with the very popular cadmiums being more opaque. You also have the choice of single pigment and mixed pigment colours. I use single pigment colours where possible. You also have a choice of staining or non-staining colours and to some extent granulating or not.

Cool Yellows

The cool yellow range includes many lemon yellows, cadmium light, hansa light and so on. These colours lean towards green and have no apparent red in them so will make very bright greens when mixed with a cool blue and more neutral greens when mixed with a warm blue. My favourite is Hansa Yellow Light PY3, made by Daniel Smith or Da Vinci. Art Spectrum use the same pigment in their Lemon Yellow. It is a bright, pure lemon yellow with plenty of tinting strength. Bismuth Yellow is more opaque, as are the genuine Cadmium Yellow Light colours. I don't like the Nickel titanate Yellows PY 53 at all - it is weak and ugly. I have added DS Aureolin here though it could equally be in with the mid yellows - either way it is not recommended as PY40 is not a reliable pigment.

Nickel Titinate Yellow Daler Rowney, Cadmium Yellow Winsor &Newton, Lemon Yellow Art Spectrum, Cadmium Yellow Light DS, Cadmium Yellow Light Hue DS, Winsor Lemon W&N, Bismuth Yellow, Steven Quiller

Nickel Titanate Yellow Daniel Smith, Bismuth Vandate Yellow DS, Hansa Yellow Da Vinci, Hansa Yellow Light DS, Aureolin DS, Aureolin Hue Lukas

Mid Yellows

The mid range are yellows that are neither warm nor cool - they don't lean toward green or orange - but can be tinted with a blue to cool them or with a red to warm them. They are ideal in a limited palette, but I rather like them in my regular palette too. The best known mid yellow is Cobalt Yellow or Aureolin PY40. Unfortunately, though you will see this recommended in many many watercolour books, it is not a good choice as the pigment fades in washes and goes grey in mass-tone so look for better alternatives if you want your paintings to last. If you have Aureolin, use it in a sketch book only, where it is protected from light, and photograph or scan your work for posterity.
I have written more about Mid Yellows in a previous post here  as I tend to use a mid yellow rather than a light yellow in my palette, but have tried out a few more colours since then. There are many that are good, my favourites being Hansa Yellow Medium DS and Arylide Yellow Medium Da Vinci. Schminke Pure yellow and Winsor and Newton Winsor Yellow are also good. In my experience Mayan Yellow didn't rewet well once dry on the palette. W&N Transparent Yellow made with PY150 is shown here, the DS and MG versions are with the warm yellows below, though they are all fairly similar slightly neutral yellows.

Arylide Yellow DV, Hansa Yellow Medium DS, Mayan Yellow DS, Schev Yellow Light Old Holland, Tranparent Yellow W&N.

Azo (Aureolin) M. Graham, Azo Yellow DS, Pure Yellow Schmincke, Aureolin W&N, Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue DS, Winsor Yellow W&N.
Warm Yellows

Warm yellows are yellows that lean towards orange. These will mix with blues or phthalo green to make more olive-greens due to the neutralising red in them. In Australia I find the warm yellows make wonderful realistic greens. In Europe mid or cool yellows may be more useful. The first two rows are the brighter hue warm yellows. My favourites of all these are New Gamboge by Daniel Smith and Hansa Yellow Deep by Daniel Smith or Da Vinci. As always, I am less interested in the mixed pigment yellows.

Isoindoline Yellow DS, Indian Yellow W&N, Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue DR, Cadmium Yellow Deep DR, Indian Yellow DS, New Gamboge DS, Gamboge Hue DV

Gamboge Hue DR, Gamboge Hue DR, Cadmium Yellow W&N, Permanent Yellow Deep DS, Hansa Yellow Deep DV, Cadmium Yellow Deep DS, Hansa Yellow Deep DS.

The next group are slightly neutralised yellows. Quinacridone Gold PO49 by Daniel Smith is one of my favourite warm yellows and can double as a transparent yellow earth colour. Nickel Azo Yellow washes out to a lighter almost lemon yellow but has a deeper, slightly dirty masstone. W&N Transparent Yellow uses the same pigment.
Nickel Azo Yellow DS, Nickel Azo Yellow MG, Quinacridone Gold W&N, Quinacridone Gold DS, Australian Red Gold AS, Quinacridone Gold Deep DS.
Remember with yellows, like all colours, the most expensive are not always the best - the price of artist quality colours relates to the cost of the pigment. Cadmium and Cobalt pigments are expensive. Arylide pigments are cheaper, so the Hansa colours, which have wonderful purity, are a good choice for colour and for price.

Watercolour Comparisons 1 - Ultramarine Blue here
Watercolour Comparisons 2 - mid yellows here
Watercolour Comparisons 3 - Primary Red here
Watercolour Comparisons 4 - Burnt Sienna here
Watercolour Comparisons 5 - Greens (Single Pigment, convenience mixes and special effect) here
Watercolour Comparisons 6 - Reds (Cool, mid and warm) here
Watercolour Comparisons 7 - Yellows (cool mid and warm) here
Watercolour Comparisons 8 - Blues here