It’s the battle of the crimsons! If you want a deep red on your palette, which should you choose? Which should I choose?
Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone (PV19) is Da Vinci’s answer to a permanent alternative for fugitive Alizarin Crimson (PR83). It’s made from the same quinacridone pigment as Quinacridone Rose (PV19), and it looks similar to Quin Rose, really: just deeper and slightly redder (less pinky/less blue undertones, but still on the “cool red” side).
Pyrrol Crimson (PR264) is a deep red made from pyrrol pigments. It’s more of a middle red, less blue undertones than ACQ. But it is the least orange of the Pyrrol red colors, and the darkest, being much darker and less orange-toned than Pyrrol Red and Pyrrol Scarlet.
ACQ and PC look similar in masstone, but ACQ dilutes to a rosy pink, where PC dilutes to a light red.
Pure Yellow (PY154)
ACQ makes brighter reds and oranges, more similar to mixes with a magenta or rose. The PC mixes are more muted bricks and goldenrods.
Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)
ACQ makes deeper purples (though not as vivid as those with Quin Rose or any other magenta). PC makes near-grays with slight purple undertones.
Both make wonderful cloud shadows with textured Cerulean. ACQ’s remain quite purple-toned (good for purpley sunset clouds, or can be neutralized with yellow ochre), while Pyrrol Crimson makes a lovely grayish mix right off the bat that’s suitable for cloud shadows with no additional colors needed!
Phthalo Green Yellow Shade (PG36)
Both are fairly neutralized to gray by yellow-green, though the ACQ becomes more of a blue-gray and the PC becomes more of a brown-gray.
I haven’t done my own lightfastness tests on either pigment, but both of these are in “???” territory as far as I know. Bruce MacEvoy gives both pigments a “Caution” rating, as they can vary from brand to brand. Jane Blundell uses both in her Ultimate Mixing Palette (the PV19 being a Quin Rose rather than ACQ), which she has subjected to her own lightfastness tests and is satisfied with. So, who knows.
I’m comparing Da Vinci and Daniel Smith here, which is sort of apples and oranges, since the two brands may be priced very differently in local markets. To make matters worse, Da Vinci doesn’t have a comparably PR264, and Daniel Smith has a permanent alizarin hue made from different pigments.
With those caveats in place, Pyrrol Crimson is a series 2 color, and ACQ (as with other PV19s) is a series 1, so generally ACQ should be cheaper.
If you like both, but don’t want both on your palette because they overlap in role, here are some considerations:
- ACQ is closer to a “true primary” magenta, which makes it a more flexible and versatile choice for a limited palette with no other magenta. For example, ACQ serves this role on my Autumn Palette.
- Because ACQ is so similar to a PV19 rose, you might find it reduplicative if you already have a Quin Rose on your palette. You could consider Pyrrol Crimson in that case for more variety.
- Generally, Pyrrol Crimson is more suited to muted mixes, while ACQ is more suited to bright mixes.
If you don’t like either color, there’s no necessity of having a crimson on your palette; you could just use the bright red of your choice and deepen it when needed with browns, violets, or blues. Or you could consider filling in your “deep red” slot with a muted scarlet, such as Quin Burnt Scarlet/Deep Scarlet/Perylene Maroon, which you can “cool down” as needed by adding magenta.
Ultimately, like all color choices, this comes down to subjective feelings about the hue and the “brush feel,” accommodated by surrounding contextual palette changes. For me personally, ACQ makes my heart sing, and PC doesn’t, so I’m motivated to find ways to work in Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone where it makes sense, but I’m not likely to go out of my way for Pyrrol Crimson.