Color Spotlight: Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15:6)

Is Phthalo Blue Red Shade actually red-toned, neutral, or still green-toned but simply less so than its cousin Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)? I’ve heard all opinions, and I suppose it’s a judgment call. (Is the color blue you see the same as the color blue I see?) My opinion is that it is a … Read more

Color Spotlight: Cerulean Blue Genuine (PB36)

Da Vinci - Cerulean Blue Genuine
Da Vinci – Cerulean Blue Genuine

The color Cerulean, a light sky blue, is traditionally made from the PB35 or PB36 pigments. It’s a semi-opaque, granulating, green-toned blue with limited range of values, erring on the side of being light-colored. It’s nonstaining and highly liftable, making it a good choice for skies (if you like granulating skies). Personally, I usually like a less textured sky – but Cerulean has other uses as well, such as being a beautiful textured green mixer, and muting earth tones into cool, granulating browns.

Warning: Be careful to look at pigment numbers. Some brands, like Mission Gold, call their PB15 Phthalo Blue “Cerulean.” Don’t make the mistake I did when I first started painting, and get “Cerulean Hue” (from Da Vinci or any other brand), made from Phthalo Blue + white. PB15 is not the same color, and will not have the same granulation/magic/mixing properties.

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Color Spotlight: Shadow Violet

Daniel Smith – Shadow Violet

Shadow Violet is a granulating purple-gray that’s made from a mix of three pigments: PB29 (Ultramarine), PG18 (Viridian), and PO73 (Pyrrol Orange). As such, close inspection of the seemingly unassuming shade reveals flecks of violet blue and blue-green as well as and underlying orange cast that make it more interesting than your typical gray, and mimics the overall effect of a real-life shadow with light and dark spots, color variety, and texture. John Muir Laws praises its beautiful granulation and suggests using it as a convenience gray for shadows in nature paintings.

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Color Spotlight: Burnt Sienna (PBr7)

Holbein Burnt Sienna

Burnt Sienna is one of the most classic earth tones, an earth orange that ranges from an orangey brown through to a peachy gold. It is often used to mix up a range of browns and to neutralize blues, which are its opposite.

Burnt Sienna is just one of many earth tones that are traditionally made with PBr7 (Pigment Brown #7); others include Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, and Burnt Umber. So basically all of them. PBr7 colors vary quite a bit in granulation depending on who you get them from. Holbein’s earth tones, like this one, tend to be quite creamy and smooth without granulation.

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Color Spotlight: Scarlet Lake (PR188)

Often called Vermilion (although it is not the traditional/historical Vermilion pigment), PR188 is a smooth, transparent, brilliant red-orange shade. Experiment Results Hue: Bright orange-red to pale coral/light red. A happy “strawberry soda” color. Gradient: Very smooth. Opacity: 100% transparent. Glazing: Bold orange-red glaze that looks similar to Pyrrol Scarlet. Color Mixes: Bold, vibrant oranges and … Read more