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Do you use alizarin crimson?

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New member
Username: Drc6207

Post Number: 1
Registered: 5-2007
Posted on Tuesday, May 8, 2007 - 8:34 pm:   Print Post

I am looking at a swatch of Grumbacher Acadamy "Alizarin Crimson" PR83 "Fugitive"

Next to a swatch of Cheap Joe's "Alizarin Crimson" PV19 "Very Good"

I like the "Student grade" better.

Try the comparison yourself.
Tell me what you think.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 9:59 am:   Print Post

Please share with us information you put on your "Care" sheets (for proper care of watercolors for the layman)!

Please put your thoughts down on this. The average person knows nothing about art, or even how long it's supposed to last.

I find sometimes I scare people with my predilection for long words (which aren't long for me, it's JUST the word I mean -- EXACTLY!). Would greatly appreciate all help offered: To educate the new owner in a non-scientific way with compassion, precision yet gentleness, showing exactly what is necessary to do to handle, mat and frame the work archivally, just like the museums do.
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Posted on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 3:33 am:   Print Post

Yep i too have found that getting rid of lizard crimson wasn't that hard. And despite having become addicted to the scent of W&N RMG I gave it up with minimal withdrawls...(just keep a tube to sniff when i'm stressed). When i first met Permanent Rose she impresed as a cheap hussy looking more like a sideshow act than the delicate, tasteful and delightfully scented lady i'd come to know. However toned down with cobalt or raw sienna she delivers with style. They both granulate well so no loss.
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Posted on Monday, January 19, 2004 - 12:56 pm:   Print Post

I am a "preemie" in the watercolor world butI will change my pallette to eliminate colors that do not last. I am also a bead artist and test bead colors to make sure they will last. After putting so much time and energy into a project, I feel you owe it to YOURSELF to use the best products available. Thank you all for sharing your opinions and expertise - I appreciate it.
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Posted on Sunday, May 11, 2003 - 3:32 pm:   Print Post

Just for the record: I would not put a lot of stock in what mayer says in his book. He had a number of personal and commercial reasons for what he wrote. There are a number of more current books available today. In oil you can increase the permanence of the fugitive colors by mixing them with permanent colors. Things like aliz crimson and cad red deep. It does not make them as permanent as the permanent colors but it does increase their staying powers. One question: do we not have a responsiblilty to our collectors to make our product as permanent as possible, as well as personal ethics, business ethics and moral ethics? ok one more question: If you as an artist, are representing all of us as whole, why would you want to do something denigrating to the profession and the arts?
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Posted on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 7:25 pm:   Print Post

Oh, by the way, thanks Drollere, for the advice about suitable substitutes for alizarin crimson and aureolin. I did purchase some W & N permanent carmine, and I do like it. I still miss using aureolin, but I'm getting used to the hansa yellow. You have an amazing wealth of knowledge! Thanks for sharing it with others.
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Joni St. Martin
Posted on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 7:08 pm:   Print Post

I was at an arts and crafts show last night and saw the most beautiful, large watercolor paintings of vibrant red poppies. I asked the artist what colors he used, because they were truly beautiful. He explained how he dropped crimson lake and winsor red onto the wet paper. As I walked away in dismay, I told my friend, "his beautiful poppies won't be so beautiful in a few years because he used fugitive colors." She had never heard of fugitive colors before, and she was an art major in college. Does anyone know if this subject of permanent vs impermanent pigments is being taught in university art classes these days?
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Posted on Saturday, August 17, 2002 - 1:10 pm:   Print Post

Here is a great book for artists to read.

"Mauve - How one man invented a color that changed the world" by Simon Garfield, Norton Press, NY.

It explains the orgin of that analine dye and many more including Madder Lake and Alizarin. Color names, patent wars, industial spying, and an amazing amount of toxins involved to obtain "grams" of these colors. We all owe a knod to the early Chemists for the palette we all love.

It is a great read. The process, the industrial drive for a "new" colors, and how this color revolution came out of a toxic by-product, coal tar.

- Kate
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Posted on Monday, May 20, 2002 - 5:48 am:   Print Post

And which yellow would you use to replace Aureolin? Transparent Yellow from W&N? Winsor Lemon?
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Posted on Sunday, April 28, 2002 - 9:21 pm:   Print Post

Please, please share with us the information you put on your "Care" sheets (for proper care of watercolors for the layman)!

Please, everyone put your thoughts down on this. The average person knows nothing about art, or even how long it's supposed to last.

I find I sometimes scare people with my predilection for long words (which aren't long for me, it's JUST the word I mean -- EXACTLY!). I would greatly appreciate all help offered. I wish to educate the new owner in a non-scientific way (so hard for me to do), with compassion and gentleness, showing exactly what is needed to do to handle, mat and frame the work archivally, just like the museums do!
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Posted on Thursday, March 21, 2002 - 11:17 pm:   Print Post

Thank you Drollere. I echo the comments that we are very fortunate to have you stop by the board here.
I read your website inside and out last summer in preperation of updating and upgrading my w/c supplies. I did end up with a few Grahams, and many wn's and am very satisfied.
This topic came at the perfect time. Even after studying your site and making my list, I made the ultimate mistake. For my birthday I recieved a fantastic w/c book and I jotted down the colors she uses and added them to my list. Unfortunatly, a few of those colors were the Aurelian and AC. When I ordered off the net, the ordering sheet says "Here's a list of all our permanent colors" (paraphrazed), so I felt confident and excited. I wish the stores could be more generous in their listing info like they used to be.
I've always listed "Care" info with every painting I sell, warning them of direct sunlight, humidity and outside walls. Now I will be sure to update my Care note to include the Halogen UV as well as seasonal changes.
I appreciate your friendly reminders that assure we stay on the right track you've so studiously provided for us.
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Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2002 - 10:08 am:   Print Post

sorry i don't visit more frequently. to a few points made below:

- yes, photographers (and printers) use inks or chemicals that are less lightfast than paintings in many cases. but that applies to the print, not the negative (or the printer's color separations); photos or color jobs can be reprinted indefinitely, so long as the photographic basis remains in good condition. in fact, preservation of old prints and old negatives is a major issue in the film industry.

- the argument that "things don't last" is the same argument used by addicted smokers ("we all die") to persevere in smoking. obviously too weak to bother refuting!

- there is a difference between your expectations of your art ("i'll be dead before it fades") and a buyer's expectations of a purchase. at least one "artist" here admits to using fugitive pigments, doesn't care if they fade, and *will not* inform buyers of those facts. at the moment money changes hands those attitudes become an issue of "business ethics," not "artistic freedom," and my question remains: are those practices honest and ethical?

most of my favorite watercolor artists, including joseph raffael and carol carter, *do not* use fugitive pigments. guess it matters who you run with, huh?
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me again
Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2002 - 7:49 am:   Print Post

I mean YOU'D
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Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2002 - 7:47 am:   Print Post

You know I agree ed but permanent carmine by w&n is actually better than alizarin because it has all that same colour characteristics as alizarin but keeps it's hue when dry and if left in the sun for a few days. So i hope that drollere will leave our colours alone now and let us play in ignorance. I think drollere if you put as much energy into painting as into scientific analysis of art stuff(not complaining mind you) then he'd be the next JMWT.
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ed'zzz muze
Posted on Monday, February 18, 2002 - 10:04 am:   Print Post

I was just thinking about this topic again...

Just about every one of my favorite contemporary artists uses (or has used) alizarin crimson!

Some of the most inspiring art is here to enjoy in the moment -- not to be preserved for future unknown generations. Look at ice carvings for one! Beautiful... but only here to enjoy for hours. Sand castles too. Some of them are really wonderful works of art created by skilled artisans.... But alas, they are gone with the incoming tide.

I love to visit Mt. Rainier. One of natures finest works of art. But even that masterpiece is slowly grinding into dust!

Will I lose any sleep over the alizarin crimson I used in a painting I created this morning? (yawn.....) Nope. -ed
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Posted on Friday, February 15, 2002 - 6:49 pm:   Print Post

Oh yeah, Dake, Quind. Rose is one of my staples. I also love the Q Coral, Q Burnt Orange, Q Sienna, and DS Green Gold But Opera is in a class by itself. Its as flouresent as it gets!! I know a lot of you gag on those colors but they work so well for my WWW. After taking my last class from Frank Webb his favorite motto of the day was..never miss an opera-tunity as he would dab the bright stuff in! ("I love ya , Frank!!)

Hey Drollere, we sure are lucky to have you monitor our board from time to time. I hope you can help me on this one!
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Posted on Friday, February 15, 2002 - 2:03 am:   Print Post

Kukana, I'm sure Drollere will find something for you, but have you got any W&N Permanent Rose in your quiver. Let me tell you it's TOO PINK for me so it may be what you're after. It's much more "electric" than any other pink i've ever used, very 70s/80s...not sure about 60s. It's a quinacridone if i'm not mistaken, (i'm at work at the moment so can't check)quite staining probably an "A" or "AA" rating in the permanence stakes.
I rarely use it, when i do in very small quantities.
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Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 12:49 pm:   Print Post

Thanks Drollere for sharing information on good substitutes to use. I really appreciate your willingness to enlighten us with all your findings!
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Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 11:37 am:   Print Post

Drollere, I need your help. I am looking for a non fugitive substitute for really electric 60's and 70's type colors I can use straight out of the tube. It seems that the more 'electric' they are, the more fugitve they are. I especially want something like Opera Pink. I am also looking for a really great color like cobolt violet that isn't so sqeemish! Any ideas?
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John Preston
Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 10:24 am:   Print Post

Yeah, Dake!
You've got a point there. Hey, what about photographers? Aren't they printing with dyes that are way more fugitive than our suspect pigments? Nobody seems to lose sleep in their camp. What about the idea that we are trying to say something lasting in a medium that won't last? Isn't that a Quixotic statement in itself.
Even writers have to deal with language changing over time, altering meaning.
I'll continue to use the most permanent pigment I can get so long as it's a color I like, and tell people to exercise reasonable care in hanging the work.
These days I'm worrying more about Civilization outlasting Art rather than the other way around.
By the way, Drollere, D.S Carmine and W&N Permanent Carmine are quite nice, is there anything inherent in the pigment that would preclude their use in oil? I've yet to find anything that behaves like Alizarin in oil mixes.The Quinacridones I've tried all have much more bluish undertones than Alizarin.
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Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 4:07 am:   Print Post

Sorry to go again but why not!
I'm thinking about finding a way to impregnate diamonds into titanium in an effort to acknowledge my talent, so that my work may outlast the works of those really talented oil painters. It will result in a monochromatic product but what's color got to do with it? By the time the earth has done 2000 more revolutions of the sun, who knows it may be the last remaining piece of human art.
Then again there are paintings on rock faces and cave walls around this country that were done with ochre and ash that have allegedly been here for 20,000 years. Makes you wonder doesn't it.I don't think my diamond/titanium collage would be in the hunt so to speak.
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Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 3:45 am:   Print Post

Oh also on this subject, there is still the problem with Rose Madder Genuine. As I said previously it's granulation quality is something I'd sorely miss. I use it sparingly usually dropped into a Raw Sienna or Cobalt wash, really livens the wash up, also doesn't stain which is a desired quality with my technique. The staining quality of the quinacridone/pyrrolopyrrole is also something i'll have to adjust to.
The adjustments to ones technique to compensate for staining(also affects paper choice) is probably the main reason artists have been resistant to change, especially with watercolor where one chance is all you get.
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Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 3:00 am:   Print Post

Okay, i've just changed to Permanent Carmine, will NEVER foul my palette with Alizarin again.
The fact that it's darker and retains the crimson hue that did it for me. Thanks Drollere!
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Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 8:11 pm:   Print Post

joni: i used to use aureolin, too. it doesn't fade so much as turn gray (lose saturation), especially in thick layers. dampness and sunlight are not nice to it. there is no other yellow pigment as transparent as aureolin, but some (like hansa yellow) do come close -- they are more intense, and so tolerate watering down better, and diluted pigments are more transparent.

try using winsor & newton "permanent carmine," holbein "permanent alizarin crimson," or schmincke "madder red dark" as a substitute for alizarin crimson. these are all made with a single pigment that closely resembles the hue of alizarin crimson and is much more lightfast. it is also darker and more saturated than alizarin crimson, and when it dries it keeps its crimson color instead of turning a blood brown, as alizarin crimson does.
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Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 8:03 pm:   Print Post

i don't stand in the way of ed or anyone else who wants to enjoy life. but it bears mention that art collectors also want to enjoy life, and they probably won't have a good day when they discover that a valued painting is damaged forever because the artist used impermanent pigments and failed to mention that fact.

artists can't be scientists, but it's peculiar that artists would wave away consistent and credible scientific evidence that something they're doing may have unintended consequences for their buyers. in fact, it's peculiar that they would wave away *any* credible evidence that bears on the quality of their work.

feather's comment raises the question again: if the maker of the painting doesn't inform the buyer, who will?

it's not just sunlight that is the culprit: halogen lights are also pretty spicy in the ultraviolet range, and it's ultraviolet light specifically (not heat or visible light) that destroys pigment color.

the insidious problem is that watercolor is a stepchild in art markets because informed buyers and gallery curators know that most watercolors will fade. the really talented artists move on to acrylics or oils as a result. what's left? a gaggle of "fun luvvin" painters who create the works that reinforce the prejudice of the market that watercolors are not really worth owning.
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Joni St. Martin
Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2002 - 8:47 am:   Print Post

I wasn't aware that Aureolin is an impermanent pigment. I have been using Wilcox Guide since the early '90's. Is there a newer addition that claims this? I use aureolin in my pallette and would find it difficult to replace.
I did eliminate all known impermanent pigments after reading Wilcox Guide years ago. I'd rather not use paint that is known to fade. After all, we would all prefer our work to last as long as possible. I don't want to keep my paintings in a dark room to preserve them!
I have really missed using Alizarin Crimson. I love the color. Instead I use Da Vinci Red Rose Deep, but as far as I'm concerned, there is no perfect substitute for Alizarin.
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Posted on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 9:53 pm:   Print Post

Maybe I was just really stupid, but until I started painting several years ago, and I read something about it in one of my "how to paint", I didn't know that paintings should be kept out of the sun. Prior to this the only other hint that I ever had that sunlight could damage paintings was when I took an antinque painting into a framers and the lady said to me, "This is a museum piece and it must be kept out of all sunlight." Well dumb little old me took her advice quite literally, and thought that it only pertained to that particular antique artwork. Although I carefully sheltered that antique piece, the rest of my art collection continued to bathe in sunlight all over my house!

This old fool agrees that we should warn our customers about sunlight because there are more fools like me out there than you can shake a stick at.
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Posted on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 2:12 am:   Print Post

Reporting back on my findings at a gallery stroll... I was only able to speak with a couple of people on this topic of impermanent pigments. Most of the works were in oil and acrylic at the galleries we went to.
I spoke to one gallery owner, and her concern was more with the quality of the work of the artists she represented. She as a rule does not carry watercolors any more because of the high quality of reproductions that can be confused with the original art. She did have one watercolor on Yupo paper, and in another CJ discussion we have debated whether a painting on Yupo would hold up against time. Unfortunately I didn't get the opportunity to ask the gallery owner her thought on the Yupo painting or the permancy of paint used as we were interrupted by one of her clients. Darn!

I spoke with another person who collects art on a modest scale, and he was not so interested in what paint was used, but more in what the painting was about.

Sorry not a very good report back. Salt Lake City is looking good for the Olympics though! :-)
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ed'zzz muze
Posted on Sunday, January 20, 2002 - 12:11 pm:   Print Post

This highly philosophical, intellectual, and very technical discussion (not to mention verbose and wordy!) is quite interesting. I admire the enthusiasm and energy displayed by drollere. Obviously his/her focus is on the scientific end of the creative process. That is just fine for those of us who would like to spend our energy there. Please understand that I am not criticizing drollere, only trying to understand this topic thread better.

The notion that I should begin to put a disclaimer voucher or warning label on the back of my paintings (Warning! This painting might change with age, just like you! And someday the colors will fade and this paper will turn to dust, just like you... but don't worry, cause you'll be dead and gone...) is just something I'm not going to do.

drollere Has decided to explore and study every nuance of every pigment and paper known to the modern artist. Then (as is currently politically correct) to inform the buyer of each and every negative scenario that might happen over time. (Is that right?)

drollere, My post here is not intended to dis you or flame you. Once again I admire and applaud your energy! I have enjoyed (and will return!) viewing the website.

If I have raised some "misconceptions" -- it is only because I am an artist, not a scientist. If my customers truly want their paintings to last beyond their lifetime, then it is their obligation to further research the archival storage issues. We all know there are many and varied opinons on that subject!

Heck, I love alizarin crimson so much I put a little dab behind each ear before I go out dancing!

--ed (trying to enjoy life)
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Posted on Sunday, January 20, 2002 - 11:38 am:   Print Post

ed'zzz muze raises to some misconceptions that are worth clearing up.

mixing *darks* with a paint is different from mixing *tints* or using paint as a pure color, and it's in the tints and pure color fields that the crimson pigments are most likely to fade, dull or change hue. for example, many painters mix a flesh tint from a crimson, yellow and blue; if they use alizarin crimson or rose madder for the crimson, and the pigment fades, yellow and blue (makes green) are all that's left for the flesh.

no one on purpose leaves their watercolors in the sun -- or hangs up their phone 10,000 times in one day, or drives their SUV into a concrete barrier -- but that's how paints, or phone handsets, or car crash engineering are tested. i didn't expect anyone would confuse a testing procedure with an everyday procedure, but apparently it's a distinction that needs to be said.

why leave watercolors in the sun if no one would do that? because it *accelerates* the process that happens anyway, though more slowly, under less intense light over longer periods of time. sunlight, incandescent light, halogen light -- they all add up. and i know from experience that it is annoyingly easy to hang art where early, late or seasonal sunlight can shine directly on it, something you don't realize because you're habitually not in that room at that time of day, or because you put the painting up in summer and the winter sun comes from an entirely different angle. and many collectors simply run out of "safe" wall space because they own so many paintings.

it's true, storing paintings in portfolios, or behind special shuttered frames, will slow the fading of paints. do all the artists who use alizarin crimson or rose madder advise their purchasers of those conservation practices, or recommend them? the unstated issue is whether the assumption of "common sense" is really a form of evasion about dealing with lightfastness in a fully professional manner -- for example, by explaining to clients how the painting should be cared for if the artist knows those flesh tones will someday be greens.
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Posted on Sunday, January 20, 2002 - 9:32 am:   Print Post

Drollere: Do you ever offer training seminars on the technical topics covered in your web page?
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Posted on Saturday, January 19, 2002 - 5:31 pm:   Print Post

the thread about the confusing paint names and the color "code" (or color index name, like PV19 or PY153) is important. paint companies can *name* a paint anything they want, regardless of the ingredients. as with people's names: just because she's called jasmine doesn't mean she smells nice! the only way to tell what's in the paint is to use the color index name. IGNORE THE MARKETING NAME.

the color index name is the most reliable way to identify paint ingredients but it's not infallible. i did a draw down test of rembrandt transparent brown oxide and discovered it contained tiny bubbles of pure green pigment, probably phthalo green. slop left in the packaging machine? furtive ingredient added to tweak the hue? who knows. it's not listed on the tube, in any case.

just fyi, you can make a color more "liftable" by adding gum arabic to it, or adding a coat of gum arabic to the paper. some papers are more "lifty" than others; zerkall, for example, lets go of even staining colors like phthalo green, yet behaves absorbently -- so "lifting" is not really a paint attribute alone.
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ed'zzz muze
Posted on Friday, January 18, 2002 - 10:40 pm:   Print Post

I use Alizarin Crimson for my darks -- mixed with thalo blue & green... I have for years. I've got paintings from the 1980's that haven't faded a lick. Your tests are in direct sunlight, but any (fool) person should know better than to store a watercolor painting (or any painting) in direct sunlight. A little common sense goes a long way'zZ. Besides, nothing lasts forever.
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John Preston
Posted on Friday, January 18, 2002 - 1:29 pm:   Print Post

If you don't have a handy copy of Wilcox or Hillary Page go to and click on paints> guide to watercolor paints> and click on the hue in question. You'll get more info about a pigment than you thought existed.
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Posted on Friday, January 18, 2002 - 8:48 am:   Print Post

Kristine, Look up the PY 153 or Nickel Dioxine Yellow in a Wilcox guide. My local art supply store keeps one under the counter for reference. I take theirs in hand when I buy their paints. With the universal merchant goal of getting the best possible profit for the product can any of us rely on the validity of their information? Even now as we artists have become more informed some producers generate smoke screens to confuse us. Notice how some companies use the #IV, or an A on their label to indicate the best lightfastness, while the majority use #I for the same indication.
It will be interesting to hear the results of conversation with other artists about the subject. Some will be defensive and some will not believe it. But many artists have learned from successful and respected artists, who unfortunately were uninformed themselves about the actual properties of the paints they were using.
I agree we should do our own testing as well as reading up on the subject.
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Posted on Friday, January 18, 2002 - 12:18 am:   Print Post

Hi Drollere
I use aureolin, rose madder genuine and alizarin crimson. All WN. I love the aureolin, AC is ok and RMG is a take it or leave it.
I believe it all will fade in prolonged exposure to sunlight, and tell clients not to put paintings in direct sunlight, that sun fades color. The only problem is that I need to remember to tell every client. I think I will prepare a little "how to care for your painting" to go with paintings I sell.

I do sell paintings containing these pigments, and other pigments that may not be lightfast also! I have used these colors out of ignorance, and now that I know a little it is because I haven't found a replacement that I like as well.

The only time I have had discussion on these kind of questions is if the people that I am chatting with are knowledgeable on this topic. Usually a discussion like this occurs with other artists.

Tomorrow night I am going to a gallery stroll in our city, and if there are any watercolor artists showing their work and are present, I will broach the subject with them. I'll also ask a couple of gallery owners ... hmmmm should make an interesting evening. I let you know if I get any response.
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Posted on Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 10:39 pm:   Print Post

Kristine, I'm not sure whether "delving" would be worth the effort. Testing however is another matter and as our friend Drollere councells..DO YOUR OWN TESTING and respond accoringly.
Paint manufacturers will ultimately respond to the market pressure. If artists are using A.C without question then why change the indredient?
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Posted on Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 1:44 pm:   Print Post

Wow ~ This is a really hot topic this week. Have to admit that i always used Aliz. crimson in my oil paintings (past 10 years) and over the past year as i've become much more involved in using watercolour i moved from using aliz. c. to using all the quins. I use Daniel Smith and simply love them. I'm not familiar with the difference say between W& N r.madder g. compared to rose quin., but i agree that each artist must make their own decision.

Wilcox has done much to educate artists on how much they were being cheated by misinformation and confusion in paint colour names and lack of pigment info. I've studied his books extensively and note that he recommends Aureolin Yellow (PY 40) as being reliable and lightfast, but says that Gamboge (NY 24) is very unreliable and fades quickly. Now here is the confusing part.....i ordered a tube of "New Gamboge" from D.S. and it is rated as Lightfastness 1. The pigment used is PY 153 or Nickel Dioxine Yellow. Sooooooooo.... it is worth the extra delving to learn what paint makers are doing out there. :o)

The only aliz. crimson w/c that i buy now is for my student classes. As for my own work i try to improve my knowledge and hope that people who have any of my old work won't be disappointed any time soon. I did find an old w/c that i'd given to my parents years and years ago, and it was so faded that the colours were all pale browns! Must have used simply aweful paints at the time and hope i might be forgiven for my past ignorances!!
Don't stop the ball rolling on this topic - it's very thought provoking and informing. :o)
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Posted on Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 10:20 am:   Print Post

I stopped using aliz. crimson, new gamboge, and aureolin. How does the perm. aliz. crimson do? The more I read, the more confused I become.

1. w/n..perm al. crimson. says Quinacridone pyrole, quin. pr 206
2.davinci aliz. crimson(quinac.) is p.v. 19 quinacrdone violet
3.permanent rose pigment:quinacridone pv 19
4. I thought that if two colors were mixed the result would be called a hue.

I love the color of aliz crim, and it 's quality when mixed with other colors. I'm using the perm. aliz crim. and perm rose for a lighter touch.
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John Preston
Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 9:53 am:   Print Post

Drollere=Handprint!!?! Wow. That is certainly one of the most useful resources out there in any format. Picks up where Ralph Mayer left off and branches into territory that probably would have been outside Mayer's comfort zone. Thanks for the info Dake and congratulations Drollere!
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Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 2:03 am:   Print Post

John, Is'nt Handprint brilliant? I'm sure Drollere would appreciate your positive response to his mine of information found in Handprint.
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Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 12:35 pm:   Print Post

Even FURTHER reflections... Now that I look at my test swatches some more, compared to Drollere's, it's not really equivalent to compare my weak winter sun samples to his. Also, that PR83 sample was from an 18 year old tube of Grumbacher's Finest and and is probably not a good comparison: maybe it has undergone some change in the tube or pre-faded or something. who knows? So, circumstances are everything, and Drollere's advice to do your own testing holds truer than ever. Probably out here my pictures aren't hung with as much exposure as in sunnier climes, where folks have more and bigger windows. Drollere raises an iteresting question, whether a painter can use two mediums and be objective about a single palette approach. Probably not. Color is SO subjective and us artists are subjective critters to start with. To me, the pigments behave so differently in oil and watercolor that the same palette won't work. Pthalo pigments (to me) are disgusting in oil but I can't get along without them in watercolor. The various PV19 pigments work fine for me in watercolor (I don't lift much) but I have to have Alizarin in oil.
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John Preston
Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 9:52 am:   Print Post

Further reflections on Alizarin...sorry, I didn't realize this thread was concerned primarily with it's use in watercolor. There are some good quinicridone substitutes in this medium, and I'm sampling them, but as others remarked, they don't lift or granulate like rose madder genuine. If you like/need those properties, whatcha gonna do? That's the beauty of this medium, all a pigment's properties are in play. Drollere, you lucky, sun- drenched person, I just now pulled down some test strips from my south window (dated 10/12/01) and they don't show anywhere near as much fading as your 4 week old samples ( sample in question was PR83). It has been overcast here in Iowa, though. By the way, I was looking at your samples and have to admit the faded color was (to me) more charming than it's unfaded portion!?! And,ironically, wasn't Alizarin originally brought out as a more lightfast replacement for Rose Madder? Also, for those who can't live without these colors, here is an historical alternative I read about in book on British Watercolors: Apparently at one time watercolors were kept in portfolios for unframed veiwing, safe from constant exposure. Later, some displayed them in frames with silk "shades" to lift for veiwing. Why not frames with "shutters", sort of like the portable alterpeices in Medieval times? They could be very creative and beautiful. I keep a lot of my watercolors in hand made sketchbooks, which should be pretty safe as well. P.S. I found that book suggested on a list at the Handprint site, which has an excellent overveiw of various watercolor artists and watercolor movements along with a booklist on each topic.
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Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 7:51 am:   Print Post

By reading the paint tube labels I have noticed some brands of Alizarin Permenant are actually not Alizarin at all but are quinacridone. So some of you aren't using what you think you are using anyway.
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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 11:41 pm:   Print Post

i misspoke ... the tests are after *four* weeks
of sunlight exposure.

as for substitutes: for a.c. try quinacridone
carmine (w&n permanent carmine, schmincke
madder red dark) and for r.m.g. try
quinacridone rose (permanent rose in most
brands) ...
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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 11:29 pm:   Print Post

a few comments to keep the topic simmering

i hadn't intended oil media, but watercolors, in
a watercolor posting. but it's an interesting
question whether an artist -- who uses both
oils and watercolors -- can be "objective"
about the best paints to use in each medium,
or instead has a "single palette" approach to

as for "never having seen" a bad reaction with
alizarin crimson or rose madder, that's pretty
easy to oblige. here's one of my own pre (top)
and post six weeks of sunlight exposure
(bottom) tests of alizarin and r.m.g. (in "the
best brand" of paint, not a cheap brand) ...
and the same tests are extremely easy to do

alizarin crimson

rose madder genuine

i guess i'm still feeling unconvinced ... sure,
you can walk away from a velazquez or giotto
admiring it even though it's been botched by
time and bad restoration: but *if* you had the
choice between the original state and the
degraded state, would you choose the
degraded state? if so, why? and why do or
don't you think that you face the same choice
when you choose impermanent or permanent
pigments in your own work? that's what i'm
trying to clarify. (and just for the record: j.m.w.
turner, whistler, mondriaan and many other
master artists were strongly in the 'damn
posterity' camp. moral high ground isn't the
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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 11:28 pm:   Print Post

I only use lightfast pigments. Otherwise, what's the point? If I were to paint knowing the image will fade I might as well save some bucks and use children's paint tins.
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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 6:24 pm:   Print Post

If someone could find a substitute for Rose Madder Genuine that lifts then I'd use it. Until then...

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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 11:36 am:   Print Post

I haven't used alizarin crimson in many years (although a guy I know uses "lizard" crimson.) As an oil painter, I think strictly in terms of color temperature. When there is a special circumstance requiring a particular hue, I'll break it out, but normally I'm interested only in whether the color is warm or cool. So, I keep a warm red and a cool red on my palette.

For me, the purpose of the cool red is to provide an interesting and clean purple when I mix it with French ultramarine. Quinacridone violet fills the bill perfectly well. I also find myself mixing it with my cad red light to find the illuminated side of cool red or purple fabrics that are under warm illumination. On occasion, e.g.,when there is a green backdrop to a nude, throwing a lot of green into the reflected light, the quinacridone violet mixes beautifully with permanent green light for the nude's base shadow color. Then I can push the permanent green into the reflected light with complete harmonic integrity. I use Daniel Smith Original oil colors almost exclusively.

The long and short of it is that, for my purposes, alizarin crimson is utterly unnecessary and quinacridone violet works perfectly well.

In a related matter, I used to be a lithographer. My publishing company printed original lithographs and fine-art reproductions. Color fading was an unending concern for us and we would warn our customers against hanging the prints in direct sunlight. I never felt the need to issue such a warning to my oil-painting customers; they're generaly hipper to the vagaries of pictures than are print customers, gallery owners know where it's at and I expect no-one will be interested in looking at my work five hundred years from now, anyway.
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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 10:28 am:   Print Post

I'm with you John, it takes more than a faded rose to ruin a good painting.
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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 10:21 am:   Print Post

Good to see you back Drollere, I use Alizarin and Rose Madder Genuine and know full well that in comparison to some other pigments that with exposure to sun they will fade. I have yet to find a suitable alternative to Alizarin for it's strength when a clean dark value is required.
Rose Madder I use because I like it's really I love it's granulating quality and it's gentielness in making a very delicate violet whilst in the company of Cobalt.
I even use aureolin to a lesser extent, liking it's cool transparent, once again delicate touch.
I also sell a few paintings now and then and don't tell the consumer that it will fade if left in the sun. Most things if left in the sun will fade, I would think was a wise but "common sence" practise to keep all paintings out of the direct sun, especially watercolors.
Many contemporary watercolorists of notable success use these more fugitive colors because they are familiar and achieve unique effects with them. I know that creating a good painting is a very fine ballancing act which requires cooperation and a degree of familiarity with your tools and cast. I would not have the inclination or time to search for the most permanent pigment alternative so i rely on others to tell me what is the best alternative to alizarin etal .
So Drollere what should i buy instead of Alizarin ?...I'll never give up the Rose Madder though I'm addicted to her aroma.
Where do we end though Drollere? Do we need to test our own paper for pH and have the water tested too, what about atmospheric pollutants.
Also the framing, there are many "standards" of frames out there. I'm too fussed about getting my vision and technique right to fret over what the sun may do to a painting if someone is silly enough to expose it. I would consider a sticker on the back of my paintings warning that color permanence can't be guaranreed if exposed to direct sunlight however. I notice they didn't put one on the dash of my car though.
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John Preston
Posted on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 9:59 am:   Print Post

I have been using Alizarin for years (and selling those paintings) but have yet to see or hear of any visible deterioration. I have been aware of it's risky status from Ralph Mayer's book. Now, I'm speaking oils, and of using it in mixtures(viridian, alizarin and white makes a subdued, airy violet that isn't gotten any other way). I understand that large, unbroken washes of pure alizarin in watercolor might register a change more obviously. Again, in watercolor, I have only used it in mixtures but have seen no adverse changes. Ditto for aureolin (W&N PY40). These works see no direct sunlight and are only 18 or less years old, however. I am actively trying Quinicridone alternatives and while they work OK for watercolor, nothing seems to behave like alizarin in oil. I do varnish my oils with product that contains UV absorbers. My bottom line attitude is this: Nothing about this side of life is permanent and if the partial fading of some colors in a picture ruin it, then it didn't have much to offer in the first place. I've seen lots of beat up masterpieces in the museums and it's not the cracks and fading that I come away remembering. Still, if I find a suitable substitute, I will use it. Hope this stirs the pot, I love reading this site. John
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Posted on Monday, January 14, 2002 - 7:49 am:   Print Post

yes, no one ever told me about the lightfastness. Obviously I am new at all of this. What are the alternatives?
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Posted on Sunday, January 13, 2002 - 9:32 pm:   Print Post

despite the tireless lecturing by michael wilcox and others, many artists continue to use impermanent pigments such as: alizarin crimson, aureolin, rose madder genuine, or genuine gamboge.

i am interested in the pulse of the artist community on the whole lightfastness thing. so here are six questions:
1. do you use any of the paints i've just named?
2. do you personally believe they will fade after prolonged exposure to sunlight?
3. if not, why not?
4. do you sell paintings containing these pigments?
5. if so, do you tell clients or galleries that the paintings contain those pigments?
6. if not, why not?

if you know of an artist who is "yes" on 1, even if it's not you, i'd like to hear you tell us what they think, too.

i don't want to weigh in on the pros or cons on this topic. i'm just interested in what artists are choosing to work with now, and why. thanks!

p.s. -- don't forget, there is a checkbox that lets you post as "anonymous".

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