Kremer’s Blue Pigment Assortment

I got a boxed assortment of pigments from Kremer (here) recently and here’s a chart of all of them made into watercolor. As always I can’t guarantee color accuracy. Actually, this time I guarantee it’s not accurate, because ultramarine is hard to photograph. All of these I made just with a palette knife and my own formula of watercolor medium (gum arabic, light honey, glycerin, tiny amount of synthetic ox gall, extremely tiny amount of clove oil). It’s not meant to be a comparison of tinting strengths or how each paint behaves other than granulation. None of these swatches are just a single brush stroke, as I was trying to get the paint to granulate. The paper is 140 lb cold pressed Arches.

Blue 30th Chart
Click here for a large chart.

A1 – PB32 – Smalt, very fine
A2 – PB31 – Egyptian Blue – The first synthetic pigment, made in ancient Egypt
A3 – NA – HAN-Purple, fine – an ancient pigment used in China
A4 – PB30 – Blue Verditer – a synthetic azurite
A5 – PB29 – Lapis Lazuli, sky-blue – genuine lapis lazuli
A6 – PB1 – Indigo, genuine – smells bad when wet, but very nice blackish darks
A7 – NA – Colored glass, Lapis Blue
A8 – NA – Ploss Blue – a form of distilled verdigris
A9 – PB30 – Azurite MP, pale
A10 – NA – Sodalite

B1 – PG24 – Ultramarine Green – a rare pigment not made anymore
B2 – PB29 – Ultramarine Blue, very dark
B3 – PB29 – Ultramarine Blue, greenish extra – the most intense ultramarine blue
B4 – PB29 – Ultramarine Blue, greenish light
B5 – PB29 – Ultramarine Blue, light
B6 – PV15 – Ultramarine Violet, medium
B7 – PB27 – Prussian Blue LUX
B8 – PV16 – Manganese Violet
B9 – NA – Copper Blue
B10 – PB71 – Zirconium Cerulean Blue – similar to cerulean but more granulating and contains no cobalt

C1 – PB74 – Cobalt Blue Dark
C2 – PB28 – Cobalt Blue Dark, greenish
C3 – PB74 – Cobalt Blue, Sapporo
C4 – PB28 – Cobalt Blue Pale (matte) – looks very nice for skies near horizon
C5 – PB35 – Cobalt Blue Light
C6 – PB36 – Cobalt Blue, greenish
C7 – PB28 – Cobalt Blue Turquoise Light
C8 – PB36 – Cobalt Blue Turquoise Dark
C9 – PV14 – Cobalt Violet, dark – similar to manganese violet, but cleaner color and more granulation
C10 – PV49 – Cobalt Violet Brilliant, light

A few extra notes- Three of my favorites are the smalt (A1), ultramarine green (B1), and cobalt blue pale (C4). Though the set isn’t inexpensive, it’s a very good deal when you consider how much is in it. Dividing the price by the number of pigments, and considering that 27 of the 30 jars look like they have roughly enough pigment to make about a regular tube of watercolor paint, it’s comes out to a very low price per tube. Much less than you’d spend buying such pigments as tubed paint. Plus, most of these pigments would normally be expensive to buy a small amount of them all, so a lot is being saved by being able to try them all. Also, I think I typed the names of all of these as they appear on the bottles, but Kremer’s website gives some of them slightly different names.

Egyptian Blue
Comparison of Egyptian blue made with light pressure (left) and heavy pressure (right). Using more pressure ground the particles finer and it seems like it’s the smaller particles that shifted to a greener hue immediately, which gives a very interesting effect. Both versions are a little iridescent.
Ploss Blue
Ploss blue is not listed on Kremer’s site as compatible with watercolor. Here’s a comparison between a paint swatch I made today (left) and one from a few days ago (right). It apparently yellows very quickly in watercolor, though I’m not 100% sure what it’s reacting to. Maybe something in the medium I made, like the clove oil? The verdigris I made myself didn’t yellow like this in watercolor (using the same medium, minus the synthetic ox gall, and a different batch), but it did in oil paint. It is listed as compatible with tempera though, so when I eventually try that I’ll give this a test. The color before yellowing is an exceptionally intense greenish blue.

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16 thoughts on “Kremer’s Blue Pigment Assortment

  1. Hello,

    Glad to find another fellow Artist still making his own paints.

    Myself has been making water colour and oils for quite a while, concentrating only on the scarce pigments such as chrome yellows, orpiment, Han blue, Egyptian blue, malachite, etc, etc, all thanks to the courtesy of Kremer.

    Recently I have bought several more modern I would say pigments and one of these is PB71, which is a novelty for me. I am writing because I actually have a problem with making it into a proper water colour (something I have never encountered with other pigments I worked with). If you could be of an assistance what I am doing wrong with it, it will be much appreciated.

    The problem is the following, first of all I mix the pigment with some water for a paste, to the paste I add arabic gum, mull it in the mortar and transfer the ready liquid into a pan. Finally I add a few drops of glycerine and let the whole dry for a day or more. Once dried, the colour was beautifui, definitely Cerulean akin, granulating, as desired. After some days, when I try to paint with it, it looks like as if it has transformed back into pigment, there are particles on the brush and once dried on the paper I can scrap it, it looks like it does not hold to the surface as you can see below:

    https://postimg.org/image/ufm8yhqep/

    Maybe you can help? As I said I have been making many paints in my life and have never come across such an anomaly.

    Btw, I am reading you have got PG51, have you made it into a paint already? What are your impressions? I am still on the search for “my green” and considering that one.

    Best regards from Poland,

    Bogumil

    1. Hi, thanks for your question and describing your experience in such detail. I’ve only had limited experience with making or using PB71 and PG51. Right now I’m traveling and don’t have access to my paints, but when I get back I’ll try to reproduce your experience.
      The last time I made PB71 into paint I used aquazol (a synthetic watercolor medium) from QoR instead of gum arabic and some of their synthetic ox gall, plus glycerin. The paint worked well, but I added too much glycerin and it never dried on the palette. I used a lot of medium to make it, so maybe your paint was just underbound? Or maybe the ox gall improved the wetting of the pigment, so it could better disperse into the medium?
      PG51 is an interesting pastel green, but I also had some difficulty making it into paint. I’ll also give that another try after I get back.
      -Josh

      1. I tried making more zirconium blue but what I made didn’t smudge at all. Actually, the cerulean from Blockx did smudge a little, but it might have been underbound because of pigment separation that caused some of the medium to be lost in the past. I posted a comparison chart of zirconium and some similar blues along with the gum arabic recipe that I used.

    1. Thanks for that information. I didn’t know they still had an option for purchasing ultramarine green. It’s a great pigment in watercolor, but I never use it just because I don’t want to run out. That’s basically the same end result though… 🙂

      Looks like there’s actually two different ultramarine greens, but neither one is on the US version of their site.

      1. Should the need arise I might get it to you if it does not appear in the US. Just let me know. FWIW having a 100g of pigment is very efficient for using and not running out of.

      2. Thanks for the offer 🙂
        Yes, though some pigments have far higher weight by volume than others, 100g of even heavy pigments does last a very long time.

      3. I have myself gathered these I require the most and are still at an affordable price.

        Naples yellows are a must, chrome yellow and orange (If I have some vintage Maimeri oil paints bought over at ebay-check Cheshirecatworld), yellow ochre-jarosit. That Zirconium cerulean seems to be running out slowly, so is Van Dyck brown.

        Some others but as paints I have bought in a vintage form like the aforementioned Maimeri (I believe I have made a stock of vermillion for years)

        Recent work executed with these paints:

        https://postimg.org/image/ylpu3p8zp/

      4. That’s a very nice painting. 🙂
        The working properties of different pigments can be so unique, though there’s many that I’ve never used since I avoid the more toxic ones. Watercolor especially has the uniqueness of granulation or staining, so it’s harder to substitute one pigment with another.

      5. Thank you.

        Water colours are very demanding, capricious even.

        And pigments that are not destined for water colours show a much different shade when compared with oil colour. For example, Naples yellow reddish is a solid pale yellow in water colour, in oil it gets its orange-y cast all of the sudden and is much darker than expected-so needs a little white to lighten it up. Malachite is dramatically dull and dark in oil, if it is not, it will darken within months, in water colour it is barely a colour, just a smudge, but as tempera grassa it has the potential of being as vivid as genuine Veronese green.

      6. Oh very interesting that Naples yellow changes so much. I’ve used synthetic malachite in oil and watercolor and it was rather weak, but in watercolor at least had an interesting texture. Actually, I had an old tube of supposedly natural malachite that the metal of the tube corroded wherever the paint and the metal were both in contact with air together- at the mouth and at a crack on the bottom. The metal there was strangely brittle. One other paint maker I know said the malachite and azurite watercolors that she made corroded her metal palette knives and metal watercolor pans.

      7. Nevertheless, I have not observed yet that Naples yellow would/should or blacken when exposed to iron (palette knife or ochres etc) as it is claimed in many old manuals. Generally I am treating with great suspicion the rules regarding mixing or not mixing certain pigments. Chemical reactions occur between them anyhow but as we can see from the works of the Old Masters, they have broken most of the rules many a time and the results were still remarkable.

        IMHO, Venetians who can be looked at with awe and amazement while applying copper pigments used them as tempera grassa, never oil, hence all the greenness and bluenness had been preserved. They might not even dilute them with oil just put the final varnish to retain the depth of the shade.
        See it here: on the Mole’s vest:

        https://postimg.org/image/6bdevbot7/

        On the other hand, when used in mixtures, including then lead paints, the colour had been preserved, too. Green used by Paolo Veronese for the robes is a mixture of azurite, malachite, little massicot and some lead white. Together with a friend we have made attempt at re-creating it and its shade reflects the genuine Veronese green which was discovered back in 1814 if Veronese himself had anticipated it long before.

        or in that landscape: https://postimg.org/image/p4z7s7s57/

        Yet when applied in pure form and as an oil paint specifically, most of them darkened considerably (like in foliage, trees)

      8. If you do not mind I will add something to what I said about tempera grassa. Here in the “St. Paul’s Conversion” belt was painted with malachite using the method of tempera grassa, you can see how vivid it is, almost blue:

        https://postimg.org/image/x3uufi1t7/

        Then I have switched to oil and made either glazes (bone black, Puzzuoli red, cinabrese, green earth) or thick pastoso lights (Naples yellow, lead white, vermillion):

        https://postimg.org/image/7z3u1jrwr/

        I bet it holds water

      9. For some reason none of the links are working. I thought if I waited a few days that site would work, but they’re still not showing.

        I only have minimal experience with pigments like malachite, azurite, or lead white, and it seems that modern pigments do a very good job of mixing well together. I’ve read something though about either alizarin crimson or madder lake being less lightfast when mixed with yellow ochre, but not with red ochre. I’m not sure if that’s true. Verdigris was the only pigment I’ve seen an actual reaction from after mixing it with cadmium yellow.

      10. Sadly, I have no idea, either what’s wrong with the links. They do not show to me, too.

        Yes, verdigris seems to be the most unstable of all the copper pigments, surpassed only by Scheele’s green. According to Lomazzo (1585) verdigris can be mixed safely with calcium carbonate only. Orpiment which is the enemy (sic!)of most of the colours mixes well with copper pigments, ochres but never with lakes.

        The notion about madder lake fading comes from Toch (1911). He claimed when madder lake was used as a glaze, it would stay, once mixed with ochre or sienna it would change. Interestingly when these are calcined the problem ceases to exist; Vermeer used madder lake to intensify his red ochre for instance. On the other hand, he claimed mixing madder lake or alizarin crimson with lead paints is no-no and that I have never observed. I have Naples yellow with alizarin, chrome yellow with alizarin, lead white with alizarin and with madder lake and not a single fading or colour change.

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