Color Spotlight: Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255)

Daniel Smith Pyrrol Scarlet: gradient, opacity & glazing tests, color mixes

The warm (orange-toned) red in the Daniel Smith Essentials kit, Pyrrol Scarlet has been a part of my personal palette for a long time! It is a semi-opaque and extremely vibrant flame red, straddling the line between a red and a red-orange.

Experiment Results

Gradient: I found it difficult to get a wash that didn’t show some brush strokes; water control can be a bit of a struggle with this one. Still, the color range is impressive, from an extremely bright and bold fire engine red to a pale, peachy coral.

Opacity: This one is pretty opaque; I can clearly see a thin layer of red overlaying the black line.

Glazing: Like many opaque colors, the glaze color isn’t startlingly different from the mass color. It’s a bit darker fiery red.

Color Mixes

Quin Rose

Quin Rose + Pyrrol Scarlet
DV Red Rose Deep (PV19) + DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on Arches

Bright, bold fire engine reds from this mix of a bold magenta and a bold red-orange.

Cobalt Turquoise

Cobalt Turquoise + Pyrrol Scarlet
Schmincke Horadam Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) + Daniel Smith Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on Wonder Forest paper

Possible to make a balanced, light-colored gray that never gets dark, or muted turquoise (or a pinkish gray, but I’m not sure what that would be for).

My Review of Pyrrol Scarlet

I can see why Daniel Smith uses this as the warm red in its beginner set, because it is a bright, fun orangey-red which paints out bold color easily. A semi-opaque color, it offers some contrast to the typical transparent colors like quin rose and phthalo blue. I happen to prefer more transparent colors, but there is also something handy about an opaque color with a bit of heft to it, especially in bold colors like this one. I’ve found it especially useful for pop color details: flowers, a red coat, or a woodpecker’s crest.

December 24, 2021. Pileated woodpecker forest with Pyrrol Scarlet for the woodpecker’s crest; trees and background in Quin Gold, Transparent Red Oxide, and Indanthrone Blue for muting.

I don’t find it to be an optimal mixer. It is so bold that it overwhelms most mixes, even Phthalo Blue (!). It makes bold oranges, but doesn’t make purple at all. Instead, with blue, it makes a range of muted (muddy) earthy maroons, browns, grays, and blacks. That said, if you’re not going to fill your palette with earth tones (as you know I’m loathe to do), Pyrrol Scarlet can be a nice option for making browns with blue.

I am at a crossroads, though, since I’ve run through my initial tube of Pyrrol Scarlet and haven’t yet felt the need to replace it. WN Scarlet Lake is basically the same hue, but more transparent. If I need an opaque red-orange, I may opt for a gouache.

On my palette: No.

Favorite version: I have only tried Daniel Smith.

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