Color Spotlight: Ultramarine Violet (PV15)

Da Vinci – Ultramarine Violet (PV15)

A relatively weak, single-pigment blue-toned purple with granulation.

Experiment Results

Hue: Dreamy, ethereal, textured blue-purple to pale lavender.

Gradient: Because of the level of granulation, it was difficult to get a smooth gradient without a lot of stroke marks.

Transparency: Transparent.

Glazing: Glazes to a darker, dull purple.

Comparison to Other Colors

Dioxazine Violet

Schmincke Violet (PV23) vs DV Ultramarine Violet (PV15)

Strength is the major difference; Ultramarine Violet is fairly weak, while Dioxazine Violet is extremely, extremely strong and gets almost black in masstone. Dioxazine Violet is also warmer/less blue-toned and very smooth/non-granulating.

Strontium Violet (PV62)

DV Ultramarine Violet (PV15) vs Schmincke Strontium Violet (V62)

Strontium Violet (PV62) is very similar, another weak-strength, highly granulating violet. This Ultramarine Violet is a bit bluer and a bit more capable of darker masstone.

Comparison to Other Brands

Winsor & Newton – Ultramarine Violet

Winsor & Newton – Ultramarine Violet (PV15)

Warmer-toned (a bit more purple and less blue) than DV, weak but reasonable in masstone. Disappears to nothing in tints.

Winsor & Newton – Smalt (Dumont’s Blue)

Winsor & Newton – Smalt (PV15)

An art buddy of mine sent me a dot of this, and I fell in love! It’s a version of PV15 that’s much bluer than normal, though still purpler than an Ultramarine Blue. It’s also stronger than typical PV15.

I find this to be a lovely color, similar to bluebells, and I really like the ethereal mixes it makes. It makes a gorgeous sky violet-blue when mixed with Phthalo Blue Green Shade (bottom of the first column of mixes), and the eye-popping forget-me-not blue when mixed with Cobalt Blue is out of this world. I find these mixes much fresher than the Ultramarine Violet mixes. It’s also pretty much a direct complement to MANS (as well as Raw Sienna to middle oranges), which is handy.

Name nitpick: This should be called ‘Smalt Hue.’ Genuine smalt is a historic pigment based on glass made from cobalt and silica.

Lightfastness for Smalt

Lightfastness test for WN Smalt (PV15) Left: window swatch, exposed to western light in Boston, MA, from May 30-December 9, 2023. Right: Protected strip.

The exposed strip very subtly seems to have become warmer (more violet-toned). It’s subtle.

Misc Brands

I swatched out several PV15’s from Oto Kano’s Patreon dot card (and added Smalt).

Comparison of Ultramarine Violets

The “true” PV15s are on the left two columns.

Impressions of these six PV15-only colors:

  • Daniel Smith, Sennelier, and Qor were all quite weak
  • Winsor & Newton’s Ultramarine Violet was noticeable stronger and easier to get a reasonable masstone.
  • Winsor & Newton’s Smalt was even stronger, and much bluer than the others.
  • Da Vinci didn’t actually get quite as strong of a masstone as WN UV, but has more color in tints, so the overall effect is less contrasted between masstone and tint. Bluer tone than others.

The right column contains PV15 + other pigments. Schmincke and M Graham (top and bottom) are mixes with PB29 Ultramarine Blue, so they’re more blue, and the middle one, Mission Gold, is a mix with Phthalo Blue and Quin Magenta so much stronger purple mixers to keep it in the same hue family but make it much much bolder. I don’t necessarily object to this strategy and I think the Mission Gold is probably a good one to start with for beginners or people who want a convenient bold purple without mixing other colors in themselves.

Color Mixes with Ultramarine Violet

These mixes were made with Winsor & Newton Ultramarine Violet.

Lemon Yellow

Ultramarine Violet + Lemon Yellow
WN Ultramarine Violet (PV15) + WN Winsor Lemon (PY175) on Arches cold press

Gets fairly gray with purple complement Lemon Yellow, though I found it hard to mix what looked like a neutral gray – somehow it is simultaneously too purple and too yellow.

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna

Ultramarine Violet + MANS
WN Ultramarine Violet (PV15) + DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7) on Arches

Warmer gray-purples here; this looks like a decent cloud shadow mix to me.

Cobalt Turquoise

Cobalt Turquoise + Ultramarine VIolet
Schmincke Horadam Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) + Winsor & Newton Ultramarine Violet (PV15) in an Etchr Perfect Sketchbook

Very granulating, light blue-purples. These never really fully mix and end up again looking like both colors at once rather than a color in-between.

Color Mixes with Smalt

These color mixes are made with Winsor & Newton’s Smalt (Dumont’s Blue).

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna

WN Smalt (PV15) + DS MANS (PBr7)

A very close complement. (Cooler than the classic Ultramarine Violet mix.)

Indian Red

WN Smalt (PV15) + DV Indian Red (PR101)

Soft, warm violets with granulation.

Perylene Violet

WN Smalt (PV15) + DS Perylene Violet (PV29)

Cooler, granulating violets.

Phthalo Turquoise

WN Smalt (PV15) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Rather nice sky mixes, that in dilute often have that magic sky quality of looking violet-blue and cyan at the same time.

My Review of Ultramarine Violet

Classic Ultramarine Violet has some interesting uses; it’s great for adding flecks of surprising purple granulation to dreamy cloud scenes. But I find it overall fairly weak and specific in its use cases. It wants to be used from a liquid form to get maximum value, and I tend to paint dry more than from the tube, so this is probably one I wouldn’t ordinarily go for. Ultramarine Blue gets the job done for most of my violet granulating mix needs.

But Winsor & Newton’s Smalt variety is an intriguing option, and one that I plan to explore further.

Favorite version: WN Smalt is by far the most interesting option to me. However, if you are interested in a classic Ultramarine Violet, I would recommend either WN or Da Vinci.

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