I’ll post these in the hope they might help someone make dry pigment decisions and save some money. They’re not great swatches or scans, but it’s hard to find any dry pigment references on the web. These are in linseed oil or Genesis heat set oils, which have the same color result as linseed (but tend to hide rheology so none is noted on those swatches). In practice, I find I only use a moderate selection of these regularly. I bought them when I was studying paint rheology. It’s fun to have them around though; I feel like I have an alchemist’s lab.
EP = Earth Pigments
Kr = Kremer (a lot of these are from their 25th anniversary set)
NP = Natural Pigments
GP = Guerra Pigments
DS = Daniel Smith, no longer available except on ebay
Gamb = Gamblin
Sch = Schmincke (just py153)
PP = Permanent Pigments (no longer available, these are really old!)
Long refers to ropy, stringy paint rheology
CS is dilatant (cornstarch) rheology
Column 1 – Earth Pigments turquoise green, Earth Pigments French pale green, Earth Pigments Cyprus Umber Dark, Earth Pigments dark yellow ocher, Earth Pigments colonial yellow ocher, Earth Pigments natural sienna, Earth Pigments colonial raw sienna, Earth Pigments amber ocher dunkel.
There’s an excellent review on the internet of this pigment set in watercolor, but I couldn’t find one about oil paints.
I bought this set to get a chance to try some of the historical pigments like smalt and azurite, and to explore the differences among ultramarine blue variants and cobalt variants without buying a lot of pigments. I got the set on one of Kremer’s fairly rare sales (around Memorial Day and Thanksgiving); get on their mailing list to be notified when that happens. All in all, it was worth it, and it includes a few awesome expensive bonus pigments. By the way, if you are starting out with pigments, I’d recommend the 25th anniversary set. It’s a great selection of modern and earth pigments across the color wheel.
My quick summary is:
- Don’t sweat which of these ultramarine blues you buy — the differences are too subtle to matter much in practice. There are certainly slight differences, but I suspect they will be hard to see in most painting situations.
- The cobalts and ceruleans on the other hand show distinct differences in color and value that might justify buying several, and also have interesting rheology that is almost never seen in tubes.
- Hand-mixed cobalt violets are stunning — much better than tubed versions I have, which seem full of fillers. Cobalt violets are pretty expensive, but not as expensive as buying high quality tubes, which I have seen at $90.
- For color alone, I think the historical pigments like azurite, lapis lazuli, and smalt have been replaced for good reasons in oil painting. (Watercolor is a different story.) Their muted masstone and dullness in tints and mixes hardly justify their expense when good alternatives are available. On the other hand, mineral colors can be quite interesting for unique optics in glazing and surfaces. My view of these pigments is changing since I have tried making paint all the way from rock and earth. I reluctantly admit that we may be losing something by not grinding rocks ourselves for certain effects, but I don’t think very many artists want to go there. I think these Kremer pigments may only get you part of the way to the real interest of hand-ground pigments, though. I’m thinking if I buy more, I will look for coarsely ground pigment, and use a mortar and pestle to do the rest.