Color Spotlight: Violet Iron Oxide (PR101)

Da Vinci – Violet Iron Oxide (PR101)

Da Vinci’s Violet Iron Oxide is a color I haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s a transparent, highly granulating, cool purple-toned maroon brown made from the PR101 pigment, the same that is used for Transparent Red Oxide and the opaque Indian Red.

Experiment Results

Gradient: Dark maroon brown to muted light violet. Extremely granulating at all levels. Not a smooth gradient; strokes are clearly visible.

Transparency: Transparent.

Glazing: Glazes to an even deeper brown that is still quite reddish/warm.

Color Mixes: Adds granulation to everything. Interestingly, because I think of it as a purple (it’s definitely not orangey), it seems to turn blackish with blues; and a strikingly neutralized middle gray with Cobalt Turquoise! A nice warm middle brown with Transparent Red Oxide.

Comparison to Other Colors

Indian Red/Lunar Red Rock (PR101)

Daniel Smith Lunar Red Rock (PR101) vs. Da Vinci VIO (PR101)

Indian Red or Lunar Red Rock (which I think are the same color) are also PR101 variants, but they’re opaque and more red (less purple) than VIO. I also found that my VIO was more granulating, though some Indian Reds may be more granulating depending on the brand.

Perylene Violet (PV29)

Daniel Smith Perylene Violet (left) vs Da Vinci VIO (left)

I’d say these colors are actually fairly similar in masstone, but Perylene Violet is nongranulating. As they dilute, Perylene Violet goes much more into the purple space, while Violet Iron Oxide looks brown throughout.

Potter’s Pink (PR233)

VIO vs. Winsor & Newton Potter’s Pink

These colors don’t look all that similar, but they have similar palette roles as granulating agents in the pink/purple colorspace.

The midtones don’t look dissimilar, actually; but VIO is much stronger and more pigmented so you’ll find its midtone near the bottom vs. the weak Potter’s Pink whose midtone is near the top of the gradient. In addition to being stronger, VIO is just much much darker. The dilutes are quite different with VIO going gray-purple and PP going peach.

In mixes, PP is more wild. For example, although it also makes gray with Cobalt Turquoise, its gray shows clear splotches of each color instead of making a uniform tone.

Comparison to Other Brands

Letter Sparrow – Violet Ochre

Letter Sparrow – Violet Ochre (PR101)

This is a similar color by the small batch company Letter Sparrow, from the Grow Untamed palette. It’s a bit less violet and opaque.

My Review of Violet Iron Oxide

I enjoy the hue and texture of this color, especially in the gorgeously granulating Da Vinci version. The distinct purple tones give an interest that elevates it from a basic brown. It occupies a similar palette role as Perylene Violet, but can be easier to work into a landscape. It’s also similar to Indian Red, but to me feels a bit nicer because it is less opaque.

I have not found this to be a color that lends itself especially well to my typical boreal forest landscape, but in the desert, I found it to be the perfect match in both hue and texture for certain bands of purpleish sandstone in Red Rock Canyon.

Ash Grove at Spring Valley Ranch. Painted November 26, 2022. The maroon top of the red band is Violet Iron Oxide.

On my palette? Desert Palette, but not main.

Favorite version: Da Vinci.