Monday, 20 March 2017

A Rose by any other name...Rose Madder and Potter's Pink.

Rose Madder is a natural colour from the roots of the common madder plant called Rubia Tinctorum. It is a soft granulating rose colour, but it is not lightfast so should not be used for exhibition purposes or outside of a sketchbook or reproduction work.

As far I know only DS and W&N have the genuine NR9 pigment. I am rather glad they do - even though I don't choose to use fugitive paints, it's nice to be able to test them out to see what the hues are trying to replicate! The genuine versions in W&N and DS are the first two swatches below.

There are a number of hues available to replicate this delicate colour and I have shown three of them - Schmincke has a Rose Madder, Daniel Smith has just released a Rose Madder Permanent, Art Spectrum has a Rose Madder (Permanent Hue).

I thought I'd show them all together.



When you see the range of hue in the genuine NR9 between W&N and DS, it's easy to see why the hues also vary.  Rose madder was used for portraiture and as a cool red, often with the also fugitive aureolin and alizarin crimson pigments (one of which is included in the Schmincke hue)! These days quinacridone rose does a better job, but sometimes a softer colour is desired, and Quinacridone Rose doesn't granulate.

Another granulating soft pink is Potter's Pink or Pinkcolor made with a very reliable PR233. I've included the W&N, DS and Schmincke versions as well as some handmade watercolours to show the range of hues in this pigment too. 


I'd make a Rose Madder hue with the softly granulating Potter's Pink mixed with the more powerful Quinacridone Rose - I just might explore that mix some time. The PV19 pigment might float to the surface too much of course. It would be interesting to try with DS Rhodonite too. I do mix Potter's Pink with Indian Red to deepen it, and have shown that mix (Jane's Earth Rose) here. Sharlie's Pinkcolor Deep is similar.

A few more interesting rose pigments are the very deep Piemontite genuine, that can paint out to a soft rose colour, and some of the pipestone pigments.

Apparently the W&N Rose Madder smells lovely - a rose by any other name?