View Full Version : Holbein Blues and Other Blues

05-15-2012, 01:53 AM
Hi all
I am being seduced by the Holbein blues; notably Verditer Blue, Peacock Blue, Compose Blue. The trouble is, from the swatches on Jerry's, its very hard to know what the differences are between them, so I can't decide which or how many to get.
Does anyone have any experience with any of these, or know anything about them?


05-15-2012, 03:34 AM
You might want to check out the Holbein watercolor page on the Dick Blick website. http://www.dickblick.com/products/holbein-artists-watercolors/

Click on a color's product number on the far left and you get a really nice swatch as well as detailed info on the pigment composition of each color. I don't have any Holbein paints. People who have them seem to like them a lot. Quite a few of the colors have white added. Those blues that look kind of pastel - they have white pigment in them, which you may or may not want in your paint.

05-15-2012, 04:57 AM
Thank you, Catherine, I didn't know they had that...very good! I should've added that I am new to WC and although I know that the different numbers and pigments/hues mean something, about all I know so far is some colours are transparent, semi, and not so transparent, some are granulating (not sure why, but it seems to be a popular characteristic), some are not, some are very toxic:eek: some are from organic sources, some are synthetic, some are staining, some are non-staining. Some are fugitive and some are light fast, and this is, (or ,maybe isn't) important to you.
And that many are a mix of all those numbers in various combinations, and that it's all very serious and necessary as it is the 'personality' of that particular paint. Ask me what's what, and I don't actually know--visiting handprint doesn't necessarily make it easier.

What I do know is that I am very attracted to the whole Holbein range for some reason, particularly those blues. Thanks for your help!

05-15-2012, 07:44 AM
Holbein watercolours are used by many flower painters. On the other hand Tom Lynch also uses them exclusively.

virgil carter
05-15-2012, 08:16 AM
Donna, you're not alone when it comes to blues. I generally have at least five on my palette, although they are not Holbein's.

Blues have a wide range from a "warm-reddish" blue (Ultramarine) all the way 'round the color wheel to a "cool-greenish" blue (Cobalt turquiose).

The pigment index numbers are helpful, but you may find that there are numerous colors made from the same pigment. Perhaps more useful will be to determine if the paint is made from multiple pigments, especially if white is used. White pigment will often result in an opaque paint.

There's nothing wrong with either multi-pigment paints or opaque paints made with white, so long as that's what one is seeking.

Hope this helps.
Sling paint!

05-15-2012, 08:34 AM
I haven't used any of them, but I have heard several artists mention the Verditer Blue and how much they love it. Hope that helps! :wave:

05-15-2012, 09:10 AM
Hi Donna... I haven't worked with many Holbein colours, but I do have a few in my cupboard. I love their Opera, of course, even as fugitive as it is... and I have their Jaune Brilliant #2 (it has white in it) which is a wonderful base for skin tones. Cobalt Turquoise is a gorgeous cobalt blue (PB28), but I just don't use it often, preferring cobalt blue itself... And even though they're both milled from the same pigment, they are quite different in appearance and behaviour.

A Member here, Arnold Lowrey, once said that if a colour passed the "next to it" test then it was a worthwhile purchase... what he meant was, if you could easily recognize the difference of one colour to the next when used in your paintings, then it was worth the money you spent. That piece of advice really did change how I consider my purchases.

Verditer Blue, PB28—Cobalt Blue + PW6—Titanium White - Cobalt blue is a semitransparent pigment with low to moderate tinting strength. When it dries, it appears lighter and less saturated.

Peacock Blue, PB17—Phthalo Cyan - This is a greenish or turquoise blue, a variant of Phthalo Blue, with similar properties. It is transparent and has very high tinting strength.

Compose Blue, PB15—Phthalo Blue + PW6—Titanium White - Phthalo Blues are pure and clean primary blues with superior covering power and also is a good colour for glazing..

Since I use Cobalt blue, I could mix it with white if I wanted an opaque colour such as Verditer.

I think you'll find that if you use Peacock blue in a painting, you'll have trouble distinguishing it from Phthalo blue.

And, if you have phthalo blue, by mixing it with white you'll be able to simulate the Compose Blue which is also opaque.

At the end of the day, it will always have to be your own personal choice of what you love and how you paint with it... sometimes the only way to decide if you like a colour is to use it...

05-15-2012, 06:52 PM
Hi all
Wow, thank you all for your responses and advice; I really love that one that if you can see a difference, then it's worth the $. I think that's the way I was thinking about it.

My palette is new, and I bought Jerry's SOHO WCs, because even though they are very cheap, they've had good reviews. Even my art teacher-not knowing a thing about them-mentioned when he was mixing my paint that I had good paint.

The blues I own are Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine and Urban Blue Violet-partly because I love the name, but also because I have this 'thing' about bluish-violets. I also have WN Winsor Blue (green shade), because I saw it recommended by a number of floral painters, so I was gearing my palette toward that.
Although I thought I would be a floral artist (I seem to be naturally good at it, even though it's not my most favorite subject), I seem instead to be painting--of all things (very not-me-cats with architecture. Somehow I am enjoying the lines of, say, doors or steps or stucco, or window panes or chairs...weird, because this is so not me).

The pictures I am attracted to generally have blue/turquoise and orange in them. I think one of my blues is a common subs for Pthalo blue? Even though I am new, I have this 'thing' at the moment for orange and bright turquoise, I have found that with my palette, I don't seem to be able to hit a really 'hot' turquoise or electric blues that matches some of the pictures. This is one of the reasons I was attracted to the Holbein, although looking at teh DB versions, some of them have 'cooled' down a bit compared to Jerry's.
Thank you, I think I will go for one or two of them.

Is it only DS that does Quin. Coral?

Here are the paints I have (not all of them, the blues I mentioned-my reds, greens and yellows also come from this range) I haven't tried anything else (except one or two WNs I had lying around)



05-16-2012, 04:22 AM
I love blues too and have far too many in my art box (though W&N not Holbein)

if you like a turquoise blue have you tried Cerulean Blue? It isnt very transparent but granulates nicely - not sure of that suits your style of painting though

Mixing Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold (PO49) with various blues makes some lovely greens for foliage too. It is a great colour on its own, up there with Burnt Sienna for me as a foil to a strong blue

Donna - putting my coaching head on for a moment, how can something you enjoy "not be you"?

05-16-2012, 11:18 AM
Donna, Peacock blue is lovely! I have that and Royal Blue by Holbein and I love them both. Found out about these 2 from a 1/2 day workshop I took of Tom Lynch.

I do know that the artist Joseph Zbukvic uses Verditer blue for boats and artist Tom Lynch uses the Peacock bl and Royal blue. The Royal blue is akin to an Indanthrone blue and the peacock is just plain-devine!

I saw Joseph Z paint boats with the Verditer blue in person so it is on my list too....

Have fun! Nicole

05-17-2012, 08:11 AM
I got the Holbien Blues
I'm all mixed up on my palette with the Holbien blues

I see Sky Blue when I'm up
And Sea Blue when I'm down

But when I look into your cold steel blue eyes
All I can think of is Cyan-ide

I'm all mixed up on my palette with the Holbien blues
I got the Holbien Blues

Ask not what the paint is called
But its pigment number

05-17-2012, 08:21 AM
:lol: Neeman

05-17-2012, 08:21 AM
Your thread has turned into such an interesting discussion about different blue hues that I've moved it to the Learning Zone and will add a link to this thread in The Watercolor Handbook as well.

While not a Holbein color, one of my favorite blues is Daniel Smith's Indanthrone Blue (PB60)/Maimeri Blu Faience Blue (PB60). It is a deep, deep blue which is much livelier than Indigo IMHO.



05-17-2012, 08:33 AM
Syl, Holbein does make a PB60 but I haven't tried it... mine is manufactured by M. Graham and I really like the deep, richness of it. In fact, I keep thinking that I'll replace ultramarine on my palette with indanthrone... I haven't yet, though... :)

05-17-2012, 09:02 AM
That's what I seem to be doing too. Although FUB is still on my palette, when I want that type of blue, I seem to go for the Indanthrone Blue more and more often now. :D


05-17-2012, 03:49 PM
Soho WC looks have some very rare and not so good pigments used... good=lightfastness in this time other features are purely opinion saddly i cannot order them to test them i becouse i want see how even rare pigments work... ps. i really love pb60 which is to me third basic blue ultramarine and prussian blue i think... i need full pan on cerulean before i can tell more about it. i hate half pans. i still must use them to end. at least artist quality ones (two pans). i maybe give student grade for another person here where i live...

05-17-2012, 06:35 PM
I have taken Ultramarine Blue off of my palette and replaced it
with PB60 (indanthrene, indanthrone) from W&N (Indanthrene Blue) and Maimeri (Faience Blue).

virgil carter
05-17-2012, 07:03 PM
Susan, Indanthrone Blue is a beautiful, dark valued blue. That's its strength and weakness. It's almost mid-way in value between Ultramarine and Carbon Black. So it really depends on what one's painterly intent is: hue or value.

Paints are wonderful, aren't they? Something for everyone and every goal.

Sling paint!

05-17-2012, 07:21 PM
Virgil - Paints are wonderful... I agree !!!

When I first started painting about 5 years ago (having never had a paint brush in my hand before in my life)... with acrylics.... I had both Ultramarine Blue and Paynes Gray on my palette.

Eventually, I got rid of Paynes Gray because I tend to like high key colors.... and then got rid of Ultramarine which I have always thought was rather blah.

PB60 is my dark valued go to blue now...... It is beautiful in diluted form and rich in more concentrated form. A lovely color and to my mind.. more versatile than Phthalo Blue... although I, of course, have Phthalo Blue on my palette. There are times when nothing else will do except Phthalo :-)