Color Spotlight: Phthalo Green Blue Shade (PG7)

Daniel Smith – Phthalo Green (Blue Shade)

Phthalo Green (PG7) is a super vivid, deep, cool (blue-toned) green. To me, it feels like a glowing, hidden pond deep in the rainforest. It is incredibly bright; some folks find it “unnatural” so it may be most useful as a mixer than a natural landscape color.

(There’s another Phthalo Green – PG36 – which is more yellow-toned, that I’ll discuss in a future post.)

Like all the Phthalos, this green is extremely strong and staining. Some people don’t like that about it, and it does have a tendency to overwhelm mixes with weaker colors… but I love it! I’m lazy and I love a color that doesn’t make me work. I just have to make sure my palette is full of similarly vivid colors that can hold their own.

Experiment Results

Graded Wash: Gosh, look at how smooth that gradient is. It had lines it when I painted it, but they all disappeared in the drying and settled into this perfect graded wash that ranges in value from a deep jungle green to a very pale mint/aqua.

Opacity: Utterly transparent.

Glazing: Glazes to an even darker green!

Comparison to Other Brands

PG7 is one of those pigments that everybody has.

Da Vinci – Phthalo Green

Da Vinci Phthalo Green

Slightly more yellow-toned than Daniel Smith’s, I believe this one is a bit more useful if you plan to have only one Phthalo Green (i.e. not PG7 plus the PG36 Yellow Shade as well). I wrote “handles beautifully!” on there because it was such a joy and so easy to swatch out the gradient with deep color and a smooth even gradation. I also found the mixes easy to do.

Schmincke Horadam Phthalo Green

Schmincke Horadam – Phthalo Green (PG7)

A very similar color to DS (very cool/blue-toned), but I found it more difficult to use because – for whatever reason – the binder and the pigment kept separating, even in a new tube. I’d pour out some paint and some parts would be fine, but other spots would be clear, colorless binder. It’s a shame since the color on the outside of the tube is so much cuter than the color on the outside of the DS tube (and that matters to me, okay?!)

Color Mixes

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna + Phthalo Green
Daniel Smith Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7) + Da Vinci Phthalo Green (PG7) in a Wonder Forest sketchbook

MANS yellows and mutes the Phthalo green, making a nice range of foliage greens/landscape colors.

Van Dyck Brown

Van Dyck Brown + Phthalo Green
Daniel Smith Van Dyck Brown (PBr7) + Da Vinci Phthalo Green (PG7) on Wonder Forest paper

As you might expect, adding a dark brown gives a dark shadowy appearance.

Transparent Pyrrol Orange

Transparent Pyrrol Orange + Phthalo Green
DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71) + DV Phthalo Green (PG7) on Stilman & Birn Alpha

Orange simultaneously warms and muted the green.

Transparent Red Oxide

DV Phthalo Green (PG7) + DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) on Pentalic Aqua

Very textured brown-green mixes, which I think looks nice for shadowed landscape greens.

Deep Scarlet

DS Deep Scarlet (PR175) + DV Phthalo Green (PG7) on Pentalic Aqua

I thought these might mix middle grays but I found it difficult to get it balanced; it’s a lot easier to make a muted green or a muted brown-red. It doesn’t get that dark, surprisingly; even the blackish greens don’t read as dark green so much as faded dark green.

Quinacridone Rose

Quin Rose + Phthalo Green
Da Vinci Red Rose Deep (PV19) + Da Vinci Phthalo Green (PG7) on Wonder Forest paper

This particular pair of PV19 and PG7 makes a pretty even gray, but please note that some other variations that are more blue-toned actually mix to make purple (such as DS Quin Rose + DS Phthalo Green Blue Shade).

Phthalo Blue GS

DV Phthalo Green (PG7) + HO Phthalo Blue Yellow Shade (PB15:3) on Arches

Lovely bright, vivid, wide-ranging teals and peacock blues. Mint and aqua in dilute.

Serpentine

DS Serpentine Genuine + DV Phthalo Green (PG7) on Stilman & Birn Alpha

This is probably one of the more expensive ways to turn Phthalo Green into a warm, saturated, yellow-green with granulation, but I really like it. It looks like summer leaves to me, more so than the MANS mix which I find too brownish.

What Others Say

The only green in my palette. Used sparingly it can save time, and is the perfect shade for some alpine lakes or the vibrant blue-greens of glacial ice.  A little bit goes a long way!

Claire Giordano

If you use Phthalo Green, which looks like something that dripped out of the car onto the garage floor, be sure to tame it with a hefty dose of red.

Catherine Gill & Beth Means, Powerful Watercolor Landscapes

My Review

People like to deride the Phthalos for having an unrealistic color plain, but who cares? Personally, I love the color plain. It’s the exact shade I would like every item of clothing I own to be! But even if you never, ever use it plain, it’s still a powerful and fantastic mixer for making deep greens with any number of muting reds, oranges, and earth tones. Mix it with Quin Gold or New Gamboge for a quick Sap Green.

Just beware, it is quite strong so it tends to overwhelm mixes.

On my palette? Yep. This color ticks all the boxes for me: beautiful on its own, useful for mixing, strong, easy to work with and to grade, wide range of values, transparent, non-granulating, single pigment, and cheap. What more could I ask?

Favorite version: Currently using Da Vinci’s Phthalo Green, which is more of a balanced green, because I don’t want to bother having both Phthalo Green Blue and Yellow shades. But as a color on its own, I like the Daniel Smith bluer version better.

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