Color Spotlight: Magnesium Brown (PY119)

Winsor & Newton – Magnesium Brown (PY119)

This highly granulating, semi-opaque brown makes textured, naturalistic brown blends. I fell in love with this color when searching for interesting new colors to use in the desert. This one wowed me for its capacity to mix complexly textured red sandstone and olive-drab foliage.

Handwritten notes:

  • Semi-opaque
  • Comes down orange, dries more reddish
  • VERY granulating

Experiment Results

Hue: Paints out orangey (similar to burnt sienna), but dries more of a medium cinnamon brown.

Granulation: Extremely, extremely granulating! I found this made textured granulating blends with every color I mixed it with.

Opacity: WN lists this as opaque. I found it medium opaque.

Color Mixes: I found so many of these mixes fascinating! I really liked the way it enhanced the granulation in Transparent Red Oxide and Quinacridone Burnt Orange. Oddly, with Cobalt Blue, it counteracted the granulation, making a flat gray-blue (a similar thing happened with Ultramarine Deep, below, where it made a smooth brown – admittedly one of the better Raw Umber lookalikes I’ve seen).

Color mixes with Magnesium Brown

With smooth colors, it tends to separate out, floating cinnamon granulation on top while washing out the base color into a pale version.

What Others Say

I learned about this color from Kim Crick, who suggests either WN Magnesium Brown or Daniel Smith’s Lunar Earth (PBr11) as a granulating brown component to mimic Daniel Smith’s Primatek greens, Serpentine, Jadeite, Green Apatite, and Diopside. All of these greens have brownish granulation, but are quite expensive. Since Magnesium Brown and Lunar Earth are much cheaper, they can be used to make mimic colors. For example, Crick’s formula for a Serpentine lookalike is Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150) + Phthalo Blue (PB15:3) + Lunar Earth (PBr11).

Compared to Lunar Earth (PBr11), Crick says, “Winsor & Newton’s Magnesium Brown PY119 is an extremely similar color, but has slightly finer particles resulting in a more subtle granulation texture.” Personally, I found this granulation quite dramatic, so I’m guessing PBr11 would be very wild indeed!

My Review of Magnesium Brown

I picked up this color to use in the desert, where I thought it would be my ace in the hole, but I ended up not really reaching for it much in practice. It has a similar hue as Raw Sienna – somewhere between Raw Sienna and an earth orange like Transparent Red Oxide – and I typically chose Raw Sienna when I wanted an earthy yellow-orange and Quinacridone Burnt Orange when I wanted glowing, orangey granulation.

In the Northeast U.S., I have even less use for it, but it’s such an interesting color that I’m hanging onto it in my Interesting Color Library.

On my palette? No. But I’m open to finding more uses for it.

3 thoughts on “Color Spotlight: Magnesium Brown (PY119)”

  1. I have Lunar Earth and Lunar Black and love them for special effect granulation. The Earth is a little more subtle than the Black. I’m tempted to get the Red Rock one too but not sure I need all three!


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