Color Spotlight: Bordeaux (PV32)

Daniel Smith – Bordeaux

Daniel Smith is the only company that offers this pigment, PV32, which they call Bordeaux. It’s a deep, semi-transparent, non-granulating, wine-colored pigment: somewhere between magenta and purple.

Experiment Results

Gradient: A gorgeously smooth gradient that gets very very deep. In masstone, it is more on the red/maroon side, but it grades to a pale lilac.

Granulating: No.

Opacity: Totally transparent.

Glazing: Glazes to a shockingly deep maroon/crimson.

Comparison to Other Colors

The closest comparison would probably be to a PV19 purple (like this example, Winsor & Newton Permanent Magenta). Bordeaux is redder, especially in masstone.

WN Permanent Magenta (PV19 purple) vs Bordeaux

Bordeaux is also much redder than Quinacridone Purple, but much purpler than Perylene Maroon.

SH Quin Purple, DS Bordeaux, DS Perylene Maroon

It’s sort of similar to Quin Rose or Alizarin Crimson, especially in its reddish masstone, but it dilutes to a light purple instead of pink.

DS Quin Rose, DS Bordeaux, DV Alizarin Crimson (Quinacridone)

Comparison to Other Brands

None possible. No other brand makes this pigment.

Color Mixes

Lemon Yellow

Lemon Yellow + Bordeaux
WN Winsor Lemon (PY175) + DS Bordeaux (PV32) on Arches

Awkward mixes with yellow – sort of muddy golds and oranges that I’m not sure how I would use.

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna

MANS + Bordeaux
DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7) + DS Bordeaux (PV32) on Arches

I like these colors next to each other for a fall palette, but the mix isn’t inspiring me.

Quinacridone Coral

DS Quin Coral (PR209) + Bordeaux (PV32)

Pyrrol Orange

Winsor Orange Red Shade (PO73) + DS Bordeaux (PV32)

A very bold orange turns into a sort of a muted red.

Transparent Pyrrol Orange

Transparent Pyrrol Orange + Bordeaux
DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71) + DS Bordeaux (PV32) on Arches

I was hoping I’d make crimson from this mix but it never quite got there, instead landing on a sort of awkward cranberry.

(I wrote ‘PM’ but I meant ‘TPO’. Perylene Maroon is below.)

Perylene Maroon

Perylene Maroon + Bordeaux
Daler Rowney Artist Perylene Maroon (PR179) + DS Bordeaux (PV32) on Arches

This was also too dull to get to crimson, instead being kind of red bean colored.

Pyrrol Scarlet

Bordeaux + Pyrrol Scarlet
DS Bordeaux (PV32) + DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on Arches

I was originally really impressed with crimsons this made, but after swatching out single pigment crimsons (e.g. Alizarin and Pyrrol Crimson), these started to look kind of dull to me.

Cobalt Blue

DS Bordeaux (PV32) + DV Cobalt Blue (PB28)

Nice bold range of purples.

Phthalo Turquoise

DS Bordeaux (PV32) + Holbein Marine Blue (PB16) on Wonder Forest paper

This is a great combination I’ve used a few times for dark night skies. Both colors get really dark and the combination yields a range of purple-blues that are darker and more muted than either gets individually.

My Overall Review

This is one of those colors that I really enjoy but don’t need.

I loved swatching this out. It was love at first brush so much that I bought it as soon as I’d swatched it out from the Daniel Smith Dot Cards. It handles beautifully, is easy to rewet, and makes a nice, juicy, deep, vivid color.

However, I haven’t reached for it too often in practice, so I ended up moving it to my “B team” palette.

One problem with Bordeaux is that, like the Primatek greens, it changes hue depending on how diluted it is. In masstone it’s quite reddish but in dilute it’s very purple. That makes it hard to plan around compared to a simpler, more predictable magenta or red pigment.

On the plus side, if you are painting something that has that kind of gradient from redder to purpler, it’s great. It gives a super-vivid plum color to over-the-top sunsets.

“Wildflower Sunset,” a tutorial from Kolbie Blume’s Wilderness Watercolor Landscapes, which I painted in April 2022. Bordeaux is found in the sunset sky – it’s the purple color, which I graded between Indanthrone Blue and Quin Coral, with New Gamboge along the horizon.

As I mentioned in the color mixes, it’s also wonderful for making dark night sky mixes with a blue-green, like Marine Blue (PB16).

Northern lights painting with a night sky made from a mix of Bordeaux and Holbein Marine Blue (PB16). The aurora is made from Nickel Azo Yellow and Cobalt Turquoise.

Although dot card paintout was what made me fall in love with this paint to begin with, there are some bizarre handling characteristics that emerged with more exploration:

  • The warm-to-cool shift from masstone to dilute is difficult to plan around.
  • The paint looks very strong when wet, which is part of why I loved it, but that can be deceptive because it’s not until it’s dry that you’ll see how patchy and dilute it really was.
  • It can cauliflower unexpectedly in the drying process.

It basically looks great at full strength but I found it tricky to use in dilute, where washes were either stronger or weaker than I wanted. I found it difficult to use in the field to adjust a sky color, for example.

Blue sky, Oct 9 2023. Bordeaux was too reddish to make good violet blues with PBRS.

If you have a strong, deft hand and paint out a juicy wash every time, you’ll get good results, but I found it to be a tricky one to get right.

On my palette? No.

Alternatives: Quin Magenta (PR202) is warmer, Quin Violet (PV19) is cooler.

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