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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Da Vinci PV19 Comparison: Is Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone Reduplicative With Red Rose Deep?

DV Red Rose Deep (PV19), top, vs DV Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone (PV19), bottom

I chose my watercolors by slot: my favorite green-blue, my favorite black, my favorite yellow ochre… Of course, slot boundaries and malleable. Over time, I broke out reds into several categories: bright magenta/rose, bright orange-red, deep crimson, and deep scarlet. My bright orange-red (which varies between Quin Coral or Scarlet Lake) is pretty different from my deep scarlet (Deep Scarlet), so no problem there. However, when it comes to my “cool reds,” I think my bright and my dark are too similar!

My quin rose choice is Da Vinci’s Red Rose Deep, and my crimson choice is Da Vinci’s Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone. They both use the same pigment, PV19, and now that I look at them together, I’m wondering if they’re basically… essentially… the same color?

This is the problem with choosing colors one-by-one like this: as your slots become increasingly fine, you may end up with some pretty similar colors. In fact, you’re likely to, since the common denominator is you, with your same aesthetic preferences. In my case, apparently, I tend to go for lively, cheerful, deep pinks! RRD is one of the more “crimson-like” roses, and ACQ is one of the more “rose-like” crimsons.

So, are these colors reduplicative? Do I only need one, and if so, which one? Or do they actually serve different palette roles?

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A Range of Oranges

Swatching out all the greens I can make was useful to me in determining which mixes were promising and which ones I wanted to explore further, so I did the same with oranges! I did these tiny, so they fit on one page.

Mixed orange color chart

Reds and red-oranges are the rows, and yellows are the columns. My thoughts below…

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Lessons from Shelby Thayne’s Layered Mountains

One of the first watercolor classes I ever took was Shelby Thayne’s “Night Skies” class, back in April 2021. Recently I took her “Layered Mountains” class, and it feels like I’ve come full circle.  It’s a funny story how I found Shelby. It was early 2021, at that point in the pandemic when everyone was … Read more

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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Travel Sketches: Nova Scotia

I recently took my first vacation / plane trip since pre-pandemic, visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia and the surrounding area in late October, at the tail end of peak foliage. This was also one of the first times I’ve watercolored as a travel activity, beyond a few outdoor sketches in my local Massachusetts and nearby Maine! … Read more

Artist Palette Profiles: Shari Blaukopf

I’m really enjoying the Urban Sketching Handbook series: short, image-packed books that focus on watercolor on location. As a color enthusiast, one of my favorites so far has been Working with Color by Shari Blaukopf.

In the book, Blaukopf does list the colors in her current 23-color palette, though she cautions, “Don’t lock yourself into a final selection. In fact, I’m constantly swapping colors because I love to experiment.” Same!!

Still, let’s look at the palette listed in the book and, as is my wont, see how I’d approximate it from my color library.

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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