I was asked recently about zirconium blue, PB71, which is called zirconium cerulean by Kremer Pigments because of its similarity to cerulean. Unlike normal cerulean it doesn’t contain cobalt, so I presume that it’s less toxic, but it does cost about the same or a little more.
In the chart above zirconium blue is in the center, surrounded by all of the watercolor ceruleans (both PB35 and PB36) that I have access to and also some cobalt teals that I thought would be similar, plus manganese blue. The tartan blue was a limited edition variety of cerulean that I don’t think is made anymore, and the pigment for manganese blue isn’t made anymore either.
Zirconium blue is basically a heavily granulating turquoise or greenish teal. Some of the ceruleans and cobalt teals granulate more than others, but zirconium blue is only matched by genuine manganese blue. It seems to be a bit weaker tinting than the other paints here. The lifting is partly affected by the medium used to make the paint, but what I made here does lift very well, as does the “cobalt blue light” (actually cerulean) seen at the center left and the cerulean grey from Blockx in the bottom left.
The medium that I used to make each of the self-made paints was an experiment. Each time I make watercolor medium it’s a little different to explore how changes in proportions affect the paint. This time I used 5.5 grams of gum arabic powder dissolved into about 12-13ml of water that was heated to 140-150°F (60-65°C). Then about 2-3ml of light colored honey and 1-2ml of glycerin was added, which is less of both of those than I normally use. After shaking it gently but thoroughly 4 drops of synthetic ox gall from QoR were added. As a preservative I dipped the end of a brush handle into a bottle of clove oil, getting just a thin coating of it on the tip, and I put that into the medium. So far the medium seems to be working well. All of the self-made paints were just made justing a palette knife to combine the pigment with medium. Update- the paint was a little dry, so I approximately doubled the amount of glycerin.
There’s a large variety of both natural and synthetic yellow ochres, and as one least expensive pigments it’s been a way for me to try different brands while also getting a useful paint. The natural version is normally called yellow ochre, and the synthetic version is Mars yellow, but paint makers can label their paints with whatever name they want. This includes using the name yellow ochre for paint made with the synthetic pigment. I’ll just call them all yellow ochre here.
Obviously most of the common yellow ochres, seen in the top half of the chart, are very similar to each other in color, so I would suggest just choosing only one or two at the most. Synthetic ones tend to have higher tinting strength, which is seen by how well the paint retains its color when mixed with white, and are also almost always more opaque. The exception would be the transparent mars yellows at the bottom.
Other aspects of the paint, such as how loose or stiff it is, may be very different even between paints that are similar in color. For example, the Old Holland paints above are the stiffest, while the M Graham and Winsor & Newton paints were much looser. Blockx was smooth and buttery, but not as stiff as Old Holland. The paints I made were loose and had no stabilizers added.
The more exotic ochres at the bottom aren’t seen as often in paint lines but have a greater variety of opacity and hue. A few of them I made myself from dry pigments. In some cases, such as the orange ochre from Rublev, those can also be bought as already made paint. I just don’t have those paints myself and my efforts to make paint shouldn’t be taken as good examples of what the already made paint would be like.
A couple of especially notable paints in this chart are the lemon ochre for its brightness and clarity and the orange ochre for how similar it already is to certain skin tones when just mixed with white. If I were to just choose two, those would be my favorites.
All of these swatches were mixed with Williamsburg titanium white. I tried to mix equal amounts but could have been a little off. The photo was taken in sunlight and white balanced in Photoshop, but may not be perfectly accurate. Some of these tubes were old and may not represent what these brands currently produce.
A similar comparison of red ochre oil paints can be found here.
In this brief comparison I have a variety of unusual brown paints that each have long histories but are seldom used today.
Van Dyke brown is one whose name is commonplace even if the genuine paint is not. It’s named after Anthony Van Dyck, a famous Flemish portrait artist who made extensive use of it in the 17th century. It’s also known as Cassel earth because of the deposits of it near the town of Cassel, Germany, and carries the pigment designation NBr8 (natural brown 8) because it contains natural organic matter.
The last paint in the chart above is a modern imitation of Van Dyke brown. It’s actually a mixture of pigments – in this case burnt umber and ivory black – that only imitates the color but not the handling of the original pigment. There’s many other modern pigments and mixtures that also borrow their names from some historical pigment that’s either no longer used or is only rarely used, such as indigo, sap green, vermilion, etc. As is often the case, part of the reason to make a modern imitation is because it’ll have better lightfastness than genuine Van Dyke brown.
Although it obviously has much higher tinting strength than the other paints – the third tint is a 1:7 mixture with titanium white and is close to the 1:1 mixtures for all the others – it also loses its limited chroma very quickly when tinted to higher values. The Gilsonite and anthracite may be weaker tinting but they’re also much more chromatic at high values.
I also made an area, not shown here, of evenly spread test strips of each paint that I check each day to see how long it takes for each to dry. All of this was started nine days ago and as of the time I’m posting this only two have dried because most of these are slow drying paints. I’ll keep checking and update this when or if the others dry.
These three I made from dry pigment, using linseed oil from Rublev. Nothing else was added, and I don’t know for certain how well they’ll dry on their own. They probably could have benefitted from a little bit of umber (PBr7) being added, because that contains manganese and acts as a drier for oil paint.
Gilsonite is a bitumen-impregnated rock that’s mined in Utah, USA. Bitumen (NBk6), also called asphaltum, has had many uses since ancient times, such as waterproofing for boats and ships. Today it’s still used for things like road construction, hence the term asphalt. Another example of use is that Ford model T cars were black because they were coated in a laquer made from Gilsonite. There’s many other possible applications for it. This is the most chromatic of all the paints here, but I’m unsure of its longevity as bitumen gained a reputation in the early 19th century for causing oil paintings to crack.
Anthracite, a high purity grade of coal, was used along with lower grades of coal by some artists in the past as a black pigment. Almost three years ago I made some watercolor with it, seen here.
The tube of Williamsburg’s Van Dyke brown was given to me by Williamsburg a couple of years ago and is one of the two varieties of this pigment they offer. Only two other brands – Rublev and Vasari – make paint from genuine Van Dyke brown. It has raw umber in it, but just enough to decrease the drying time to about a week without having much impact on how the paint looks or handles. The test strip took seven days to dry.
French Cassel earth is Williamsburg’s other Van Dyke brown. My tube is their old version from before they reformulated it to also have a small raw umber addition. Both of these Williamsburg paints have a large pigment grain and produce unique results that would be impossible to produce with modern imitations. Although they may look gritty in this photo, it’s not difficult to use them.
For comparison, M Graham’s paint here is a modern paint that has been given the name Van Dyke brown. Even if modern imitations are very similar in color they may be very different in handling, as you can see in how it has more uniformity and its covering power made it comparatively difficult to smudge thinly. In this case I think it’s due in part to the smaller particle size of the pigments used here. This paint was dry the first day that I checked the swatches, only about 24 hours after making them. That’s even though this is the only paint here that’s made with walnut oil, which normally takes a little longer to dry than linseed oil.
M Graham’s paint is itself an excellent paint, but there is a large difference between its handling and that of genuine Van Dyke brown. Whether this difference is an advantage or a disadvantage depends on the situation and the painting style.
In part 1, seen here, I started trying out the Ceracolors water-soluble encaustic paint sampler set from Natural Pigments. The palette for all of the paintings in this post is the original sampler set of yellow ochre, mars red, and titanium white, plus ultramarine blue and mars black made using the fluid medium that came with the set and some dry pigment.
Previously, there was difficulty getting dark shadows using the original palette and ultramarine. That started becoming a problem again during this painting, so part way through I made the mars black paint that I’m now storing in a small glass bottle. That one palette addition was very helpful in all of these paintings.
The difficulty of mixing dark colors with this palette seems partly because this medium dries very matte, which can be great in some ways but takes a lot of the depth out of dark colors. Another factor is that different binders affect how colors look and the ultramarine dries much lighter than it would in oil paint. Lastly, high opacity paints such as mars red hinder mixing dark colors, regardless of medium.
Early on some of the placements of buildings here were off, but I decided to just continue as it is. The overall colors here are also much cooler than the original. I typically mix my colors on a painting more than on a palette, but this paint dries quickly unless the fluid medium is used and I ended up doing all my mixing on the palette. That was the main aspect of this paint that I found challenging.
I tried breaking the paint a little with dry brushing to get the effect of reflections in the water. Matching the colors in the sky was difficult using only earths, but it worked out well enough.
Getting sufficient chroma for the bright yellow greens of the sunlit grass was a challenge for this limited palette. I got close to the results I wanted by painting the sunlit grass a very light pale green mix, letting it dry, and then glazing (or more correctly, scumbling, because it’s not fully transparent) over it with a semi-transparent mix of yellow ochre, ultramarine, and fluid medium. Glazing transparent paint over a light ground produces more chromatic results than simply adding white to lighten the paint to the same degree. Because the paint dries quickly this only took a few moments to do, and because it doesn’t easily rewet once dry I didn’t need to worry about accidental mixing as I glazed. It wasn’t perfect though because the paint tends to dry opaque and hold brush strokes more than gouache, so the glaze wasn’t very smooth or transparent. It got the results needed well enough even though it’s really only barely green. A dedicated green paint or a higher chroma yellow would have been a big improvement to the palette in this landscape.
The fast drying nature of Ceracolors combined with the opacity of most of the paints in this palette made it fast and easy to paint in general shapes first and then paint details over top of that. For this last painting I made four solid shapes for the sky, background, midground, and foreground, then added the details on top. Using these outdoors for plein air painting may be a good strategy to try next.
Granted these practice paintings are small, but I’ve actually used very little paint, so this sampler set is something I can keep practicing with for a good long time. Some paints will last longer than others though. I’ve definitely used much more of the titanium white than any other paint and I should probably save the rest of the fluid medium for when I’ll need to make more of that. The mars red is the opposite. I don’t use red much anyways, and mars red is a very strong tinting paint, so only a small amount of it is needed. It’s already obvious there’ll still be a significant amount of mars red left after the other paints are all used up.
Using just the original paints the palette of the sampler set is very limited but provides plenty of paint to use and decide whether you’d want to buy more of it. Maybe using smaller tubes to allow for a larger range of colors in the set at about the same price, or even a little more, would have greatly increased the usability of the set, but as it is it’s a very good deal and very good paint.
Something useful about the caps is that they each have a little swatch of paint on top of the cap so the paints can be easily identified. Unfortunately, the caps of two of the original three tubes have cracked in such a way that the top is splitting off from the part than screws onto the tube’s threads. I’ve had many caps crack in various ways from many other brands in both oil and watercolor paint, so this is something that happens. However, this is normally a rare thing and here it’s happened to two out of three tubes in a short time, so I thought I should mention that.
I’ve really enjoyed using Ceracolors so far and I’ll keep using them. If I wasn’t on a break from buying new art supplies then I’d get some more, but what I have should last awhile. Next time I’ll paint something larger and experiment with actually applying heat to the dried paint to see how well it can be reworked once melted.
I got a boxed assortment of pigments from Kremer 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.
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.
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 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.
In a forum thread we were discussing cobalt teal and I posted this photo of various cobalt blue pigments in oil paint, which I thought I’d share here too. I can’t guarantee color accuracy in the photo, but I think it’s close.
Regular cobalt blue is normally made from the pigment PB28 and it’s a good, but often expensive, middle blue. It dries fast because of the cobalt content. Compared to ultramarine it’s a little more opaque and has a little less red while being lighter in masstone. Although this particular pigment is called by the name cobalt blue, all of the above paints contain cobalt. The difference between them being which other metals are included, such as aluminum or chromium, and in what amounts.
There’s two pigments that are labeled as cobalt teal by the paint makers that offer them. One is an uncommon and very opaque teal version of the standard cobalt blue pigment, PB28, and the other is a teal version of one of the cobalt greens, PG50. They’re similar enough that if you have one you won’t need the other. I almost never see other artists talk about having teals like these on their palette, so they must not be popular. I think they can be useful for painting green hills far in the distance, and definitely tropical water, but until now I’ve also rarely used them myself.
PB36 is another pigment that comes in a large range of varieties. Although it’s not the original cerulean blue, PB36 can be so close to the original in appearance that it’s often given the name cerulean. At the other end of its range are blue turquoise and green turquoise varieties. Shown here is a green turquoise. I like the turquoise color, but again I rarely use it.
The original cerulean is PB35. It typically dries to a more matte surface. Either this or the PB36 version labeled as cerulean would be good for painting skies, especially closer to the horizon where the sky has more green, as they are both slightly greener than cobalt blue. I actually prefer the PB36 version of cerulean because the color has a little more intensity to it. The name cerulean probably comes from the Latin word for heaven or sky.
Lastly, in the right column I mixed all of these with an equal amount of nickel titanate yellow, which is a somewhat dull lemon yellow, to see how they’d behave.
Getting a good photo was hard, and even this isn’t perfect. Whenever I’ve made oil paint from this pigment it’s extremely short paint when it’s freshly made. Even without any stabilizers added the consistency of this paint is the closest there is to being like butter. I think I could even make a sculpture with it.
Genuine terre verte is very transparent and weak tinting. It’s good for glazing, for example. Some brands make an imitation terre verte by mixing pigments like phthalo green with burnt sienna, but the imitations are always far too opaque and are much stronger tinters.
Cool terre vertes, like the Nicosia green earth and the French terre verte at the top, are hard to find. Everyone seems to prefer making the warmer varieties. Sometimes I like to add a little terre verte to ultramarine to make it closer to a middle blue. 🙂
A while back I had posted this chart on a forum in response to a question about what these blue paints looked like compared to each other. The color isn’t 100% accurate but it’s close enough to show how they compare. The box on the right shows color averaging from the first 1:1 mix with white for each paint for comparison.
This is a workhorse paint. It’s a very good, strong, easy to use, and useful color that’s reliable to not fade. Every brand of paint sells this and it’s always one of the least expensive from any of them. It’s hard to find a more perfect paint. Almost every paint set for students includes this. For most artists that I’ve seen, if they only have one blue on their palette, it’s usually this one. This is sometimes referred to as “synthetic ultramarine” while talking about lapis lazuli, which is natural ultramarine.
Natural ultramarine is the opposite of synthetic ultramarine in almost every way. It’s weak, dull, very expensive, only available from a few brands, and difficult to use in many painting styles because it’s so transparent and so easily overpowered by anything you mix into it. You can see this from how light it becomes when mixed with the same amount of white as any of the other paints on the chart were. It’s good for glazing because of its high transparency, and in watercolor it’s actually useful for its high granulating texture. Other than that I think a lot of artists tend to have high expectations for this famous paint that’s spoken of so highly in much of art history but when they actually try it themselves the paint doesn’t match the hype. There’s different grades of pigment depending on the purity and to make this from the highest purity would be extremely expensive. I think it’d be better to just use synthetic ultramarine.
Natural indigo is known to fade and I don’t think anyone makes paint with it anymore. Synthetic indigo is PB66, only used by a few brands, and I’ve read conflicting reports about its lightfastness. Almost all paints named “indigo” today are just mixes of blue and black, sometimes including other pigments such as a little violet, with each brand using their own mix. The synthetic indigo in this comparison is very slightly bluer and less grey than the mix below it (which is made from phthalo blue, lamp black, and ultramarine), but if you wanted the mix to be bluer it would be easy enough to just add a small amount of extra blue to it. Doing this would avoid any question of whether synthetic indigo is actually lightfast and you wouldn’t be confined to just the few brands that make it. If you want to use a so-called “Zorn palette” (usually yellow ochre, vermilion or light cadmium red, ivory black, and white) you could consider indigo instead of pure black to give the palette a little more flexibility. Greens would be slightly easier to mix and the cool greys would be a little more believable as “blue” when placed next to a bright red than simply mixing black with white.
Anthraquinone, Indanthrone, or Indanthrene Blue
The name depends on the brand, but I call it indanthrone. The popularity of this slightly reddish blue seems much lower than many of the others because I rarely see it on anyone’s palette. I think it’s usually somewhere in the middle of a brand’s price range and is clearly not as intensely chromatic as ultramarine. It has much more tinting strength than ultramarine though, so a smaller amount of this paint will go further in mixes, possibly offsetting the price. It also seems a little more opaque than most blue pigments. I used to use this a lot early on when I started painting and was exploring different pigments, but I haven’t used any for a long time now. Maybe that’ll change.
PR101 and PR102 (Pigment Red 101 and 102) are among my favorite pigments for paint and they come in a large variety of colors. PR102 is a natural red iron oxide (red ochre) and PR101 is the synthetic version. Below is my collection of oil paints using either of these as a single pigment paint with nothing else added. I photographed this in direct sunlight during the afternoon. All of the paints were mixed twice with about an equal 50/50 mix with white.
Old Holland Yellow Ochre Burnt
This is my only natural red ochre in oil paint. As I understand it this pigment is made by roasting natural yellow ochre pigment until it turns reddish. It could make a good alternative to burnt sienna. It’s a little lighter and brighter, and has a stronger color.
Winsor & Newton Transparent Red Ochre
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I got this because the name sounds like it’d be what’s normally called Transparent Red Oxide, which is the variety of PR101 that W&N already uses in their “Burnt Sienna”, but this is really very different. I think it’s close to the same as the Yellow Ochre Burnt above it but this is a slightly cleaner and more pure color. As the name suggests, this paint is semi transparent. The tinting strength isn’t as overpowering as some of the others in this list so it’s a bit easier to work with. This is one of those paints that I wish I had gotten years ago. It might even be my favorite red ochre.
Rembrandt Burnt Sienna
Although real Burnt Sienna is made from either PBr6 or PBr7, there are a few brands of paint that use a Transparent Red Oxide version of PR101 instead, which has a much stronger color, higher transparency, and higher tinting strength than actual burnt sienna. It doesn’t show up well in the photo but this particular one is lighter in masstone than the “burnt sienna” below it from W&N.
Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna
A nice example of Transparent Red Oxide. It has good transparency. I tend to prefer paints like this over actual burnt sienna for the greater color strength.
Blue Ridge Transparent Red Oxide
Very similar to the above paint, but not as transparent. This one also seems to have a slightly higher tinting strength, but I can’t guarantee that I got the mix with white an exact 50/50 mix on any of these.
Old Holland English Red
Now we’re getting into the slightly cooler temperature colors for red ochres. This is a very high tinting strength paint, and easily overpowers most other paints that I mix it with unless I use extremely small amounts of this. Because of that, I don’t think I’ll ever run out of this one when you consider how little of it is needed in each paint mix. This one it so similar to the venetian red below that I actually mixed up the labels on the image at first. I’m 99% sure I have it right now since I kept the tubes lined up in the same order that I placed the paint on the palette and because this paint has a thicker, more viscous consistency.
Winsor & Newton Venetian Red
There’s a little bit of variety of colors that are referred to by different brands as “venetian red” but this name is generally given to a semi-cool earth red that’s not as cool as something like an Indian Red.
Blockx Mars Violet
As far as I know this is about as cool as red ochres can get. I bought this one from Blockx because when I looked at a paint chart someone else had made of different brands of mars violet the one from Blockx looked like the coolest. On an earth palette of red and yellow ochres this could be a very useful.
A similar comparison of yellow ochre oil paints can be found here.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done this, but over the past few months I’ve gotten various new paints from several brands in both oil and watercolor and I thought I’d make some swatches with them over the next few days.
This time I have the 1 ochre and 4 black oil paints I got from Williamsburg over the summer. Each swatch was first spread from a small blob of paint and then mixed in a roughly even mix with M Graham titanium white (PW6 + PW4). I’m pretty sure that’s the white I used. It was actually yesterday that I did these. That mix was then spread to the right of the original paint. A small amount of that was mixed again with an equal amount of white, and then again once more, for a range of increasingly lighter swatches that show the tinting strength of the paint.
All of these photos were taken today in the afternoon during overcast clouds. I can’t guarantee perfect color accuracy.
German Earth (PBk11) is natural black iron oxide. As expected of this pigment, it’s an opaque paint and a strong tinter. Williamsburg’s website describes it as “bluish” when mixed with white, but I’m really not seeing it. I’d say it’s fairly close to neutral.
Slate Black (PBk19) is actually very similar to German Earth, but less opaque. It’s apparently made from slate from Pennsylvania. Just a little bit gritty.
Davy’s Gray Deep (PBk19) is also slate from Pennsylvania but much lighter and with a warmer color. It’s very smooth and spreads surprisingly thin. I think it’d be very good at glazing. The photo doesn’t show it the best, but this was lighter than the first two in masstone. Its tinting strength is pretty low. Apparently slate comes in several colors, and as far as I can tell Williamsburg might be the only paint company that currently makes oil paint with slate. Many other brands all produce a “Davy’s Gray” of their own that is always one of various mixtures of pigments. A very unique paint.
Graphite Gray (PBk10) is made from ground graphite. It’s another unique paint that I’m glad I got. I think it looks a little lighter here than it really is because of how the light was reflecting off the paint, but this is the lightest of the four. It’s just slightly iridescent because of the graphite. I really like this one because it’s easily the bluest black paint I have.
This Lemon Ochre (PY43) is another natural iron oxide and is part of the Native Italian Earths set. I only have this one from the set. It’s a very strong earthy yellow. I really like the color a lot. Kind of gritty though.
As you can see in this closeup the vertical streaks are where tiny particles of grit were dragged along under my palette knife as I spread the paint thin. I had heard that Williamsburg’s earth pigments tended to be gritty, and at it seems least a couple of them are. While I can’t say this is a positive thing, it’s not necessarily a big deal. I mostly notice the grit in any paint from any brand, if it has any, while spreading and mixing it on my palette with a palette knife. When I’m actually brushing the paint onto a canvas I don’t really notice as much because of the different tool and surface texture.
Since I recently got some dry pigments from Natural Pigments and one of them was their version of Lemon Ochre I thought I’d make some paint myself and see how it compared. The color between the two was nearly the same, although the Williamsburg paint on the left was slightly lighter. The paint I made had a little bit higher tinting strength but I don’t have enough experience with making my own paint to know what the best proportions of oil to pigment are and I may have used too much pigment. The paint I made had a tiny bit of grit too, but noticeably much less.
Here I made an earthy green with a mix of Lemon Ochre and Graphite Gray. I really like the subtleness of it. A very natural looking green.
Just to show it, here’s what’s left of the white in the corner of my palette. Each time I get another dab of white I thoroughly wipe off my palette knife first so it doesn’t get the white messy.
Overall I really like all of these paints. My collection of black paint still doesn’t quite have all of the black pigments out there, but I’m now a lot closer to it.