Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Ultramarine Blue PB29 (Pigment Blue 29)

As we have already discovered there are several variations of Ultramarine Blue, each pigment batch defined by a five figure number. I think this applies to many other colours,  PV19 Quinacridone Rose /Red/Violet being examples.

Ultramarine Blue is the modern synthetic replacement for the original natural Lapis Lazuli.  The pigment database www.artiscreation.com. describes it thus `...either the pigment extracted from Lapis Lazuli or the synthetic form Poly sulfide of sodium potassium, lithium or silver alumino-silicate' I hope I've got that all right! We then go to colour shade which is described as: `Deep blue, violet to bright bluish green shades, usually slightly duller in natural forms...' Lapis Lazuli can still be obtained from a very small number of sources and there are purists who will hunt such out but it is exceedingly expensive, while the synthetic Ultramarine is usually in the lowest price range..


Ultramarine has to be amongst the most popular and widely used paints. In general it doesn't suffer from the surfeit of  fanciful names applied to many other paints (pigments). In the majority of cases it is called Ultramarine Blue but also sometimes French Ultramarine, Ultramarine Light or Deep, with a green shade sometimes offered ( W & N).  Schmincke rather bizarrely  have an Ultramarine Blue made with PB29/ PB15 but also offer `Ultramarine Finest' which is PB29! Daler Rowney do something similar with an Ultramarine Blue but also Permanent Blue which is also PB29..Not having tried these paints I don't know what difference there is in shade between them but looking at the swatches on my col.our chart the Ultramarine Blue looks a deeper more reddish purple with the Permanent Blue `bluer'. The Sennelier  French Ultramarine Blue has PV15 as well as PB29 plus both Ultramarine Light and Deep, both PB29. Several makers, Holbein, Maimeri, offer both an Ultramarine Deep and Light. One of the more recent ranges, the reworked DaVinci call their one (PB29) Lapis Lazuli Genuine while also offering both an Ultramarine Blue and the same again `green shade'. The latest `sensation', the ultra expensive QoR are similar to Sennelier in that PV15 is added to the PB29 and called French Ultramarine Blue. I could go on but is there any point in doing so? I have no real preferences in this colour and will almost certainly give Lukas a try, with both a light and a deep as they are such great value. Currently I have a little Graham Ultramarine and a new tube of Holbein.I've used several makes in the past and have a slight feeling that the ones called French Ultramarine are brighter but I haven't done a proper comparison so may be wrong. 

It has been suggested that a possible alternative to Ultramarine Blue is Indanthrene or Indanthrone Blue which is PB60. This is one of the darkest value paints but on the dull side. I mainly use Ultramarine Blue to produce darks (or even greys) coupled with Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber or Translucent Brown (Schmincke Pbr41)) , this latter colour resembling a brighter Burnt Sienna. There are other alternatives like some of the reds which will make very strong darks. Plenty to choose from!

Not much more to say really with personal preference playing it's usual part in determining what you buy.

5 comments:

Polly Birchall said...

Really interesting information. I love this colour, probably the one I use most, and am very interested in colour in general.

Peter Ward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Ward said...

Thanks Polly. I find colours (pigments) a fascinating subject but most artists don't get too involved. Many well-known artists talk about colours taking whatever the makers say about them without looking beyond the colour name to the pigment data.

Terry 904 said...

Great site Peter, and me too, about being very much into pigments
I heard somewhere (in relation to DS Ultramarine French version) that ultramarines labeled French are green shade, but I can't see it. What I do see however is that the French or finest versions have a much finer pigment particle size, therefore are staining.

DS Ultramarine ordinary is a rich deeper mid red shade that has a strong and unique textural type of heavy granulation. It is nice bright on cool white papers, but darkens and dulls significantly on very warm yellowish papers such as Waterford trad, ( think PB60 Indianthone-ish)

Holbein's deep is is also a rich mid red shade, but with only a very slight, smooth and rather fine granular quality. The Light is if anything more saturated, and a very bright, very red shade that has an extremely fine pigment particle size. Holbein's deep and light versions equate to ordinary and French/ finest in other brands, and are seried all accordingly. The HWC ultramarines are are both gorgeous colours, and also the least granulating of any ultramarines I know. The deep is available in 60ml tubes, whilst the light is only available in
15ml tubes.

Terry

Peter Ward said...

Did you see the piece (with chart) by Zvonimir about ultramarine variations?