Color Spotlight: Terra Cotta (PR102)

Da Vinci – Terra Cotta (PR102)

PR102 is a natural iron oxide. In the pantheon of earth shades, it’s the natural equivalent to synthetic PR101 (which is used to make Transparent Red Oxide and Indian Red). Similar to Transparent Red Oxide or Burnt Sienna (PBr7), PR102 is a terra cotta or burnt orange shade.

Experiment Results

Gradient: Smooth gradient from intense earth orange-red through to a series of peach shades.

Granulating: No.

Opacity: Semi-opaque.

Quick Comparisons: Similar hue to Da Vinci’s Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101); I found it slightly more orangey and vibrant, but this could be because my BSD pan had blue in it from my using it to mix brown all the time. Similar hue to DS Quin Burnt Orange (PO48), but smooth and not granulating. I also found this color stronger. More orangey, less red, and more transparent than Indian Red (another PR101 variant).

Comparison to Other Brands

Holbein – Light Red (PR102)

Holbein – Light Red

Some brands, like Holbein, call this color Light Red, which is kind of funny because it’s closer to orange or brown IMO. Holbein’s version was a bit redder than DV’s, though, as well as weaker and less vibrant (more on the brownish side). It lacks the range of values for me to make it a really useful color.

Compared to Holbein’s Burnt Sienna, it’s much redder. However, I find Holbein’s Burnt Sienna a bit golder than many.

Light Red vs Burnt Sienna

Winsor & Newton – Light Red

Winsor & Newton – Light Red (PR102)

I really like this quite orange version, but it’s just a bit annoyingly weak (I had to do a few rounds to get this deep color in masstone; the lower bar is more representative.) Transparent and non-granulating.

Greenleaf & Blueberry – Red Ochre

Greenleaf & Blueberry – Red Ochre

A gentle, earthy, semi-opaque version, between TRO and Indian Red in hue.

Color Mixes

Brilliant Hansa Yellow (PY74)

Letter Sparrow Sunflower (PY74) + DV Terra Cotta (PR102) on Canson XL

Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150)

MI Green Gold (PY150) + DV Terra Cotta (PR102) on Canson XL

Geranium Red (PR242)

DV Terra Cotta (PR102) + SH Geranium Red (PR242) on Canson XL

Indanthrone Blue (PB60)

DV Indanthrone Blue (PB60) + DV Terra Cotta (PR102) on Canson XL


HO Indigo + DV Terra Cotta (PR102) on Canson XL

Phthalo Blue

HO Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15) + DV Terra Cotta (PR102) on Canson XL

Phthalo Turquoise

DV Terra Cotta (PR102) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Phthalo Green

DV Terra Cotta (PR102) + DV Phthalo Green Yellow Shade (PG36) on Canson XL

My Review

I wasn’t impressed by the first PR102 I tried, Holbein Light Red, but I enjoyed DV’s much stronger version. It mixes in a similar way to my favorite Transparent Red Oxide, but it’s not granulating or color-separating, which means you lose some of the texture you might want (e.g. if painting sandstone), but gain some smoother and more homogenous mixes. For example, it’s pretty impossible to mix TRO with Phthalo Blue, because you just end up with specks, but Terra Cotta mixes with Phthalos very well.

There are a couple of drawbacks; I found in dry environments that it dried a bit unevenly, and it has a drying shift, losing vibrance when it dries, especially in tints and mixes.

Generally I think I’ll tend to stick with PR101, but I think PR102 has its place, especially if mixing with Phthalos.