Color Spotlight: Pure Yellow (PY154)

Schmincke Horadam Pure Yellow: Gradient, opacity and glazing tests, color mixes

Pure Yellow is a truly neutral yellow: not warm/orangey, not cool/greenish, just good ol’ bright banana yellow.

Experiment Results

Gradient: Lovely even gradient from bright banana yellow to a pale, glowing wash. It doesn’t get very dark; in mass tone, it is very bright “caution sign” yellow.

Transparency: Totally transparent.

Glazing: Glaze is a slightly darker shade of the base color, but still doesn’t get very dark. Even the glaze is neither orangey nor greeny.

Color Mixes: It does just exactly what you’d expect a yellow to do: turns red into orange, blue into green, etc. All the mixes are bright, clear, vibrant, and happy.

Comparison to Other Yellows

Here’s a cornucopia of near-identical yellows, compared. They are arranged from greenest to orangest, but I would consider all of these primary yellows.

From left: Da Vinci Hansa Yellow Light (PY3); Winsor Lemon (PY175); Daler Rowney Permanent Yellow (PY138); Winsor Yellow (PY154); Greenleaf & Bluberry Quinoxalinedione Yellow (PY213); Da Vinci Hansa Yellow Medium (PY74, reportedly identical in hue to PY97)

Our guy, PY154, falls in the middle of this pack of middle yellows, being more middle than anyone else.

Comparison to Other Brands

Daniel Smith does not offer this pigment (although its Hansa Yellow Medium PY97 is almost indistinguishable IMO). Here are some other brands that do.

Da Vinci – Da Vinci Yellow

Da Vinci Yellow (PY154)

My initial impression of the swatch from the dot card compared to the one I did for Schmincke was that Da Vinci’s is more of a “mustard yellow,” but upon doing the full Color Spotlight workup I think I was wrong: they look exactly the same. I was just more successful at getting deeper color from Da Vinci’s in a small swatch. I am overall finding Da Vinci paints easier to work with than Schmincke (easier to get vivid color without accidentally overdiluting). They’re also much cheaper where I live.

Stats-wise, the DV yellow is described by DV as being lightfast II (instead of I), although DV’s lightfastness ratings always seem super conservative so I’m not sure if it makes a difference; and semi-transparent rather than transparent (though I didn’t notice any residue at all on the black line and it glazes and mixes well so I’m not sure if that’s actually different either.)

Winsor & Newton – Winsor Yellow

Winsor & Newton Winsor Yellow

WN describes Winsor Yellow as semi-transparent and semi-granulating (as opposed to SH’s transparent and nongranulating), and while I can’t really tell the difference in opacity, I can see in the mixes of the WN that everything it mixes up is subtly granulating! Granulating yellows are rare, so this is interesting.

(If you want a really granulating yellow, try WN Lemon Yellow Deep.)

Like most WN yellows, this one dries hard and can be a bit more challenging to rewet.

Holbein – Imidazolone Yellow

Holbein – Imidazolone Yellow (PY154)

Compared to other PY154’s, I found Holbein’s a bit bolder and also a bit more orangey and muted. Here it is side-by-side with Da Vinci’s, in the same light:

Left: Da Vinci Yellow. Right: Holbein’s Imidazolone Yellow.

It’s subtle! But I have enough great options that I wasn’t eager to replace them with this one that I found “okay.”

Mission Gold – Permanent Yellow Light

PY154 yellow comparison: Mission Gold Permanent Yellow Light vs Winsor & Newton’s Winsor Yellow

I painted out the samples of Mission Gold and WN above both wet. I found them both very bold and deep. Mission Gold is maybe a touch smoother. Both are matte in masstone. Mission Gold is maybe slightly more opaque (both are in the semi-transparent to semi-opaque range).

Quick Comparison

Here’s a redo comparison I did of the Da Vinci, Winsor Newton, and Schmincke PY154 yellows after obtaining a better lamp.

PY154 comparison: Da Vinci Yellow, Winsor Yellow, SH Pure Yellow

In this head-to-head, I found the hues to be nearly identical, but in terms of behavior, DV Yellow was my favorite – Winsor Yellow was harder to rewet, and the SH was too easy to overdilute. DV was well behaved. Still, only WN has that slight texture, if that’s important to you.

Commercial Mixes from PY154

Holbein – Aureolin

Holbein’s Aureolin should be called Aureolin Hue; traditionally Aureolin is PY40, a fugitive pigment, but this one is made instead from a mix of 3 yellows: PY154, PY175 (Lemon Yellow), and PY150 (Nickel Azo Yellow).

Holbein – Aureolin (PY154, PY175, PY150)

The color is very similar to Holbein’s PY154 Imidazolone Yellow in masstone, and it gets cooler through the midtone. The dilute is most similar to Nickel Azo Yellow. This is a good all-rounder if you struggle to choose between these three yellows.

Color Mixes

Transparent Red Oxide

DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) + Winsor Yellow (PY154) on Stilman & Birn Alpha

Rusty TRO granulation floats above the yellow. In dilute, the TRO remains separated and looks peachy.

Cobalt Blue

DV Cobalt Blue (PB28) + Winsor Yellow (PY154) on Arches CP

Granulating, slightly dull greens.

Ultramarine Blue

Holbein Ultramarine Deep (PB29) + Winsor Yellow (PY154) on Arches CP

These colors are somehow simultaneously yellow and blue but not green. Dull yellows or grayish blues.

What Others Say

As a rule, benzimidazolone yellows seem not to be preferred in artists’ palettes to the cadmium yellows (which are more opaque and more intense in tints) or the less expensive arylide (hansa) yellows, I think primarily because the benzimidazolones are relatively newer and unfamiliar pigments. However, they have good tinting strength when compared with many other pigments, and produce rather crisp, vivid mixtures with the phthalo blues and greens. Well worth trying out as a basic yellow paint.

Bruce MacEvoy,

My Review

PY154 is a great yellow! It doesn’t have the distinct cool or warm tone, and even though it’s transparent, it is also quite bold in mass tone. It can be used as glowing glaze or pre-wash, and it can also be used as your main primary yellow for mixes and bold yellow color pops alike.

I’m not sure if I’d be able to tell the difference from PY97 Hansa Yellow Medium. They may be essentially the same color. I personally have more experience with PY154.

On my palette? An A-team staple until very recently, when I’ve begun using more Lemon Yellow and Nickel Azo Yellow. This is definitely one to keep in my back pocket since it’s such a nice primary.

Favorite version: Mission Gold is my current pick, balancing bold color, smooth gradients, and ease of use. I also like Winsor Yellow, which has a similar bold color but is a bit hard to rewet; and Da Vinci Yellow, which is a bit less pigmented but very easy to use.

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