Color Spotlight: Lavender

Daniel Smith – Lavender (PV15, PB29, PW6)

Like most commercial Lavender mixes, Daniel Smith’s Lavender is a mix of Titanium White (PW6), Ultramarine Violet (PV15), and Ultramarine Blue (PB29). This is a convenience mix; you can mix it yourself if you have the components, although my personal mix didn’t granulate as much as DS’s premixed one.

Lavender can be used as a sky color on its own or as a component in a bright/light sky blue (for example, with Phthalo Blue or Phthalo Turquoise). I can also imagine it being a convenient mix for hazy, distant mountains, flowers, snow, and shadows.

Experiment Results

  • Light, pastel violet-blue hue
  • Granulating
  • Opaque

Color Mix observations:

  • Nice lilacs with Quin Red and Quin Rose
  • Granulating cerulean hues when mixed with blues such as Phthalo Blue
  • Not too shabby Cobalt Turquoise hue with Phthalo Green (PG7)
  • Kind of a Potter’s Pink hue with Deep Scarlet

Comparison to Other Brands

Rembrandt

Rembrandt has a nice lavender; it’s relatively high-tinting (for a lavender, they are all kind of mid) and has nice granulation. Unlike the clumpy granulation of the DS version, this granulation looks a lot like I’d expect from Ultramarine Blue or Ultramarine Violet. The granulation seems to settle in a round pattern, independent of the paper and brushstrokes used. The mix is not too chalky; it’s even semi-transparent, which suggests to me that it is pretty low on white.

If you want to save money, the same company that makes Rembrandt, Royal Talens, seems to have a very similar Lavender in their student grade Van Gogh line.

Da Vinci – Lavender

The only colors on the label are PV15 (Ultramarine Violet) and PW6 (Titanium White), no Ultramarine Blue listed! However, it appears, if anything, more cornflower blue compared to the violet tone of the Rembrandt. There is a more pastel/chalky/white-ish look to this one, with smaller granulation (which I don’t mind).

Color Mixes

Indanthrone Blue

Da Vinci Lavender + DS Indanthrone Blue (PB60) on SMLT Cold Press

I like these deep blue-violets, though I find them slightly too vibrant for distant mountains. Adding a bit of gray or Perylene Green to this mix is perfect.

Perylene Green

DV Lavender + WN Perylene Green (PBk31) on SMLT Cold Press

Makes a light green-gray similar to Davy’s Gray. Some violet/green combos make blue, but this one does not really, so I would add blue (e.g. Indanthrone) to make a good distant-mountain color.

Payne’s Gray

DV Lavender + HO Payne’s Gray on SMLT Cold Press

The Payne’s Gray darkens and dulls that lavender, making it a not-bad mix for distant mountains (though personally I’d prefer a bit more blue in it – add some blue or use Indigo instead.) Could be good for a stormcloud mix.

What Others Say

Jay Nathan uses the Holbein version as one of only nine colors in his palette.

Originally lavender was one of those pastel colors that I had very little use for, but over the past year or so, I’ve really grown to love it, especially when I’m painting skies.

Jay Nathan, Lavender Watercolor Comparison (2023)

Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised by Lavender. I always figured, like Jay Nathan, that it wasn’t a color I needed (who needs mixes with white when you can make your own??) But after I was gifted a pan in a trade with another artist, I found I kinda liked it!

Pros:

  • It’s a useful convenience option for the hazy lightened violet tones of clouds and distant mountains.
  • The factory mix has a level of granulation that is hard to match with DIY mixes with Titanium White.
  • It mixes nicely, especially with the transparent smooth colors I tend to favor (e.g. Phthalos and Quinacridones). It is a nice shortcut to granulating hues, particularly handy for making bright, pretty Cerulean Blue-ish hues without any toxic cobalt pigments.
  • Since I mostly use white watercolor for a highly specific use case – mixing heavy rainclouds, mixes which always have Ultramarine Blue or Violet anyway – this is a reasonable alternative. It’s also kind of a neat Ulysses Bargain since it protects you from the siren song of using white for highlights or warm mixes, which I typically regret.

Cons:

  • In high concentrations or with dark colors, it can appear chalky.
  • In a limited palette, it’s sort of unnecessary. The hue is easily mixed with common components like Ultramarine Blue, magenta/rose, and white; or Cerulean Blue and magenta/rose. The mix is not as flexible as the components.

Favorite version: Rembrandt (or Van Gogh) has the nicest granulation, but I’m currently enjoying the relatively white-ish Da Vinci (even though I don’t prefer it unmixed) because I find it makes convenient pastel mixes.

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