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instantjim
01-13-2007, 06:45 AM
I have toyed with the idea of trying out genuine vermilion (PR 106), as it is mentioned so often in books etc. The question is: is it worth it? One place I read words to the effect that "vermilion's unique shade cannot be replaced with cadmiums". A related question is: does vermilion darken/change colour in oil (I am not concerned with watercolour). I have read contradictory information about its permanence. I have a tube of Art Spectrum "Spectrum Vermilion" - (discontinued formula) - molybdated lead chromate (PR 104) - I got it around 20 years ago. Would this be similar to genuine vermilion? It's a scarlet colour with a slight dullness to it - rather unimpressive really. The toxicity of vermilion may be the determining factor.
Thanks, jim
:)

Einion
01-13-2007, 09:07 AM
The question is: is it worth it?
Quick answer: not really.

If, and I stress IF here, you can find a good example the pigment has some very nice properties but the simple fact is that thousands of artists, including many of the top painters in the world of course, don't use it and paint perfectly well, don't they?

Another issue, related to its high cost generally today, is that some examples are rubbish - more an earth-red colour than a true red; I don't know about you but I'm sure not going to pay top dollar for that!

One place I read words to the effect that "vermilion's unique shade cannot be replaced with cadmiums".
If we assume that were an exact quote then it's nonsense, since in colour alone (masstone) it isn't special in any way; it was in its day but not today. It's more how Vermilion mixes with other pigments that it's valued by those that love it (primarily its tints with white I think*).

A related question is: does vermilion darken/change colour in oil (I am not concerned with watercolour). I have read contradictory information about its permanence.
It can, yes. It turns to another basic form which is black, so you get significant darkening. But it's probably nothing to worry about, since it's relatively rare and the effect is often localised (just a small area in a given passage) so it does appear to be caused by unusual circumstances, rather than being a known failing that will always show itself like poor lightfastness.

I have a tube of Art Spectrum "Spectrum Vermilion" - (discontinued formula) - molybdated lead chromate (PR 104) - I got it around 20 years ago. Would this be similar to genuine vermilion?
Being a different pigment it'll simply be different, regardless of any superficial similarity it may have. You can get two version of the same pigment that act quite differently :)

The toxicity of vermilion may be the determining factor.
Well it is highly toxic, no two ways about it.

*And this may often be overstated too. See these threads:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=178979
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=363115

This one is worth a look too:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=370339

Einion

instantjim
01-14-2007, 07:51 AM
Thanks for that detailed response and the links, Einon. I think I will give the vermilion a miss. I was wanting a red to mix with lead white for a cinabrese-like mixture (though I would not be using it with egg tempera, rather in oils). I put a post a few weeks back in the Portraiture Forum asking re: Skin Tone Palettes. My current palette is quite "out there" - working on complements; being PO 71 (a dull orange), indanthrene Blue, cadmium red light, oxide of chromium, zinc white and yellow ochre. I am going to try out a palette consisting of zinc/lead white, yellow ochre, burnt sienna (or red oxide - I haven't decided yet), a red to imitate vermilion, ivory black and rose madder (or similar bluish red). I will look at the selection of cadmium reds I have and see what works best.
Thanks again
jim

Brian Firth
01-16-2007, 11:21 AM
Jim,
In my experience genuine vermilion is unique from the cadmiums, but only slightly and not necessarily "better". Certainly not proportionally to the extra money you'll spend. I feel it's slight differences from cadmium red would most appeal to portrait artists. However, don't expect to be blown away by it. Cadmiums are more pure hues, much less toxic, and cheaper. Remember, way back before all the nostalgia for "the way they used to do it" had set in, that when the cadmium reds came out artists were more than happy to ditch vermilion for the new cadmiums. I had the Holbein vermilions, which are not lightfast and I would not recommend them unless you just want to be familiar with the historic hues. If you really want to use genuine vermilion, get it from Michael Harding or Robert Doak. Doak's is a little more orange than Michael Harding's, but they are both excellent. Those two sources have also passed lightfast tests and are reliable compared to the Holbein vermilions. If you got the money to blow and are really curious, then give them a try, otherwise stick to the very reliable and beautiful cadmium reds.

Is the PO71 you have the Schminke Mussini Translucent Orange? It's a great pigment and paint which I recently acquired. I also have W&N Genuine Rose Madder which is more lightfast than Alizarin Crimson PR83, however it has a weaker tinting strength and a more delicate hue. Again, genuine rose madder would really appeal to the portrait painter. The closest color to imitate vermilion is Winsor and Newton's Cadmium Red or Cadmium Red Scarlet for the more orange shade.

marmari
01-17-2007, 02:45 AM
I have always been using "regular" red cadmiums and Alizarin Crimson. I am very curious about the Rose Madder and Vermilion though. I am definitely going to try Vermilion, I have to admit i really like my cadmiums though, they are from WN. And the Alizarin I use is called "Permanent Alizarin". However, recently the tube broke and its a big mess. It kills me how much the Lake madder, however genuine it is, costs. Jeez! And at it being a weaker tinting strength, one would think you could thin Alizarin with a medium and glaze away!!!

instantjim
01-17-2007, 09:12 AM
Hi Brian, I just saw your thread in the oil painting section regarding the problems with Holbein Vermilion - most fascinating - I never would have expected such a rapid change! Isn't Vermilion supposed to be rated ASTM I for lightfastness? I will probably stick to a light shade of cadmium red (I used to work in an art store and stocked up in sales over the years and have a whole bunch of different colours). I would have to go out of my way to get the vermilion anyway, as none of the brands available locally have it in their range. The PO 71 I have is Lefranc "transparent indian orange" - which is a ridiculous name, but an outstanding colour (it's a bit like burnt sienna before it grew up and became toned down). I can get it for around $10 Australian ($7.80 US) - I guess much cheaper than the Mussini. I really used a lot of it when I was painting a series of whimsical fox paintings - a little bit of indanthrene blue PB60 gives a great fox colour and add enough of the blue and it looks nearly black. I think the rose madder is just beautiful! Luckily I picked it and a cobalt blue up for $9.99 USfrom ebay. I was so pleased when I read it was rated ASTM II for lightfastness in oil and thus better than its synthetic cousin Alizarin Crimson. :wave:

rroberts
01-18-2007, 10:43 PM
There is a very interesting discussion over at the cowdisley group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cowdisley/). George O'Hanlon pointed out this online article :How A Red Lady Becomes Black And White (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050708060730.htm).

In a nutshell:
A small quantity of chloride in the red paint in the painting 'Portrait of a Young Lady' by Peter Paul Rubens in the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague is causing the red parts of the painting to slowly turn black and white under the influence of light.

The mechanism that leads to the darkening of vermilion (mercuric sulfide) has been identified by Dutch researcher Katrien Keune at the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics.

George hastens to point out that "the presence of chloride in vermilion is unusual and is typically not a constituent of vermilion or used in the process to make vermilion (red mercuric sulfide). More paintings containing vermilion or the native mineral cinnabar are holding up very well and are not changing. This is not a typical phenomenon."

In all, it's a very interesting discussion.

Brian Firth
01-19-2007, 10:19 AM
Interesting article Robert. However, the darkening of my vermilion samples was not the historically noted "black spots" but an over all consistent darkening and dulling of both the masstone and tints. So, I think this research is just a piece of the puzzle.

gunzorro
01-22-2007, 08:47 PM
AU Jim -- For your purposes, obtaining true Vermilion will be an exceptionally expensive business. I would suggest skipping it and continuing to enjoy your cadmiums.
My tests comfirmed Brian's on the Holbein Vermilion darkening (not blackening) due to exposure to bright sun. This is a problem specific to the pigment Holbein was using, and apparently they are looking into remedying the matter.
The historic blackening of Vermilion has been largely attributed to the effects of sulphuric paints -- yellows and lead -- which reacted to the Vermilion. There are currently no sulphur paints marketed, the last being L&B's Sulphur Yellow, discontinued just a few years ago. And the chemical formulation for Vermilion pigment was changed as well.
Personally, I love genuine Vermilion and use the Doak version. Someday I hope to try the Harding and Williamsburg versions. Everything said here is basically true about the similarity of the cadmiums, especially Red Light, or Red-Orange. But in mixes with earth colors such as Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, etc. and even many blues, the Vermilion has a distinct identity. Worth it for most people? Probably not.
If you have seen any of my recent large grid paintings over the last few months on the SP forum, I have used Vermilion in between either Cad Yellow Deep (or Orange) and Cad Red in the largest pieces. It works very well with those colors and you can see if the you like it in that application.

instantjim
01-23-2007, 06:11 AM
Thanks for your input Gunzorro. I am interested mainly in using it as a part of my portraiture palette. I am pretty new to portraiture and am still settling on a palette that I am totally happy with. I will continue to keep an eye out on ebay for Williamsburg paints - and specifically vermilion (though they usually only come in lots of 20 or more tubes and sell pretty high - as I think you are already aware:) ). If I happen to see vermilion I will buy some try some and decide. Is the sulphur in ultramarine and cadmium sulphide "locked away" (I'm no chemist - I'm not sure of the correct term) Or in other words is it only elemental sulphur that will affect vermilion?
jim

bjr001
02-11-2007, 08:36 PM
Iím new to oil painting and color so excuse me if my comment seems naive. Iíve read advise on this board given to those who ask if they should get certain colors (mainly expensive colors) because of their unique qualities. The advice almost always seems to be that one can live without these colors and you can easily approximate its hue with a specific mixture of other pigments.

This would be fine, if people used the colors straight of the tube. But, I dare say that the vast majority of artists/painters donít use the colors straight out of the tube. The point of these unique/expensive colors, is the different/unique hues one can achieve by mixing them with other colors that cannot be duplicated.

In my opinion, giving this type of advice, of telling someone donít buy that expensive color get it simply by mixing this with that color cheats new comers to the world of painting from experiencing some of these colors.

Just my opinion

Thanks

Einion
02-11-2007, 09:51 PM
The advice almost always seems to be that one can live without these colors and you can easily approximate its hue with a specific mixture of other pigments.

This would be fine, if people used the colors straight of the tube. But, I dare say that the vast majority of artists/painters donít use the colors straight out of the tube. The point of these unique/expensive colors, is the different/unique hues one can achieve by mixing them with other colors that cannot be duplicated.
Other way around: mainly, it's actually the unmixed colour (masstone and/or undercolour) that can't be matched exactly by mixtures.

When it comes to mixtures containing two or more paints, especially more than two, you can often get the same colour - the same colour exactly - by more than one route*. And in context within paintings this kind of precision isn't necessary anyway.

A good illustration of this is to imagine two portrait painters - one doesn't use Vermilion while the swears by it and will often be heard to say "Irreplaceable!" Looking at their paintings without any clues as to which was which it would be impossible to know for sure whether you were looking at the work of the first or the second painter. A quick search on the name John Myatt should throw up some more of related interest.

In my opinion, giving this type of advice, of telling someone donít buy that expensive color get it simply by mixing this with that color cheats new comers to the world of painting from experiencing some of these colors.
That's certainly true up to a point (although thorough reading of this thread gives many caveats) but if one adopts this principle wouldn't that mean that you need to buy a high-quality genuine Ultramarine instead of French Ultramarine? Real Naples Yellow instead of a hue?

*This may not be possible with a single palette, but it's definitely doable with the right alternative paints.

Einion

gunzorro
02-12-2007, 02:01 AM
I do agree that there is a certain inclination among some advisors to not overwhelm newcomers with the expense of certain colors, probably thinking it is better to get them started on the cheap, get hooked, then move to the more expensive series or unique pigments. I can understand this, and considering most people exploring into oils will try it once or twice and quit, it is fairly sound advice. But it does "cheat" potential oil painters from the beauty of special colors. By this I mean things like genuine Cobalt & Cerulean Blue and many Cadmiums, not to mention the more "exotic" paints like vermilion and Naples Yellow made by the top paint makers (big difference between a OH Cobalt and a Gamblin!). I suppose it is a judgement call, but I tend toward advising in favor of some expensive paints to newcomers.

georgeoh
07-26-2007, 11:35 PM
...does vermilion darken/change colour in oil... I have read contradictory information about its permanence. I have a tube of Art Spectrum "Spectrum Vermilion" - (discontinued formula) - molybdated lead chromate (PR 104) - I got it around 20 years ago. Would this be similar to genuine vermilion? ...The toxicity of vermilion may be the determining factor.For more information on this topic, you should read the discussion about vermilion:
Vermilion and Cinnabar Toxicology Test Results (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=421255&highlight=vermilion)

I will repeat a few paragraphs from this discussion:

Vermilion is not a fugitive color, but has a reputation for being lightfast. Vermilion (inorganic, red mercuric sulfide, PR106, Colour Index number 77766) is listed in ASTM D 4302 with a lightfastness category of I in oil and resin-oil.

Gettens noted, "it is remarkably unreactive with other pigments" (Gettens & Sterner, 1941). Some authorities in the past did not consider it a "permanent" pigment, because specimens have been known to darken. Numerous examples in paintings, nevertheless, testify to its stability, and samples have been observed to withstand exposure to sunlight for at least ten years (Eibner, 1926). Tests made according to ASTM D 4236 the standard for lightfastness resulted in rating it at the highest category of lightfastness.

The darkening observed in some specimens of vermilion has been attributed to impurities in the digestion liquor used to make vermilion with the "wet" process, which may lead to the instability of the red form of mercuric sulfide to revert to the black form. The native mineral, cinnabar, is not susceptible to such reactions. Rublev Vermilion from Natural Pigments is made in China with the "dry" process, which is known to make a stable form of mercuric sulfide (Gettens, 1993).

Some vermilion pigments have low toxicity, because the mercury is bound with sulfur in a compound that renders it practically insoluble in human tissues. However, I am surprised that you are concerned about the toxicity of vermilion when molybdate lead chromate (PR 104) is considered highly toxic, according to some references, although sources that I consider to be more accurate rate it as having low toxicity.

References
ASTM D 4302-99 "Standard Specification for Artists' Oil, Resin-Oil, and Alkyd Paints," Annual Book of Standards Vol. 06.02, American Society for Testing and Materials (1999).

(Eibner, 1926) A. Eibner, "Arbeitsumfang der Versuchsanstalt fŁr Maltechnik an der Technischen Hochschule zu MŁnchen," Technische Mitteilungen fŁr Malerei 42 (1926), 4-12.

(Gettens, 1993) Rutherford J. Gettens, Robert L. Feller, and W. T. Chase, "Vermilion and Cinnabar," Artists' Pigment, A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics Vol. 2 (1993) 159-181.

(Gettens & Sterner, 1941) R. J. Gettens and F. W. Sterner, "The Compatibility of Pigments in Artists' Oil Paints," Technical Studies in the Field of Fine Arts 10 (1941), 18-28.

georgeoh
07-26-2007, 11:46 PM
In response to your question whether or not genuine vermilion is worth it, the answer by any artist will be highly subjective. How much money is any art material worth its use? Vermeer certainly could haven chosen to use a less expensive blue (azurite), but instead chose to use the most expensive pigment in his time -- lazurite (lapis lazuli) -- even though his patrons did not specify its use in his work. The extra cost of this pigment was apparently worth it to him.

The answer depends on your preferences about color, paint body and a variety of factors that arise from its mixture with other pigments. My subjective opinion is that it is worth the expense, not because I sell it, but simply because its appearance in mixtures is very difficult to reproduce with other pigments.

How can you rely on anyone's subjective opinion anyway? The best way to answer your question is to try it and find out. If you do not find it is a valuable addition to your palette, you have not really thrown away good money, because the experience with this color is invaluable.

Andrewcody
07-27-2007, 05:00 AM
One person's Vermilion is another's Orange
Besides the danger associated with mercuric sulfide, there is also the issue of the poor Chinese Miners who pay with their health to mine the cinnabar.
It should make you think twice, well it should if the world was a fair and equitable place, but we all know it isn't.

Brian Firth
07-27-2007, 09:58 AM
One person's Vermilion is another's Orange
Besides the danger associated with mercuric sulfide, there is also the issue of the poor Chinese Miners who pay with their health to mine the cinnabar.
It should make you think twice, well it should if the world was a fair and equitable place, but we all know it isn't.


I agree that issues of labor and human/animal suffering should be taken into account in purchasing decisions. This is why I generally don't like to use genuine sable brushes, they come from the same inhumane source as mink coats. Unfortunately, the Chinese miners are going to be mining cinnabar whether a very small number of artists use vermilion or not. The main reason for mining cinnabar is mercury production. The vermilion used as a pigment is chemical synthesized from mercury, not directly extracted from cinnabar. (real cinnabar is available from Natural Pigments) So, if you have fillings in your teeth, or use fluorescent light bulbs, then you have done much more to encourage mercury mining than a very small niche market like genuine vermilion has. It is an offshoot of a legitimate and necessary industry (not pure vanity like mink coats), which isn't to say more should not be done to force the Chinese government to enact labor reform as a whole through our position as the main consumer of Chinese goods.

georgeoh
07-27-2007, 01:44 PM
One person's Vermilion is another's Orange
Besides the danger associated with mercuric sulfide, there is also the issue of the poor Chinese Miners who pay with their health to mine the cinnabar.
It should make you think twice, well it should if the world was a fair and equitable place, but we all know it isn't.The toxicity of some vermilion pigments is very low, even lower than cadmium pigments. Read my posting above. Your concern for Chinese miners is well intended but misplaced. The mining of mercury is not done for vermilion pigment but for many other applications as Brian already pointed out. If you are concerned about Chinese miners, than you may want to reconsider the use of products containing cadmium, cobalt, silicate, etc., all of which pose serious health risks to workers.

Eggy
07-27-2007, 04:38 PM
The very first time I used Vermilion was when I lived in Finchley and I got some from Robinson for Egg Tempera...it was absolutely gorgeous. I managed to get one ounze of Lapis and that was even better...I ended up doing a pseudo-15th century painting on gesso (bunny sizeing was great,) and I was thrilled to bits.
Unfortunately, these two pigments are not as pure as they were when I first used them.
Should you come across gen. Lapis (as I knew it)...please let me know. It costs an arm and a leg to get enough to paint a lady's robe in a 10 by 5 ins gesso board !!!

Kind regards,
Eggy

Einion
07-27-2007, 05:18 PM
Besides the danger associated with mercuric sulfide...
I have to echo George's comments here Andrew. The toxicity of Vermilion has apparently been consistently overstated (possibly due purely to ignorance - that was certainly my excuse in the past).

Just as with the fear-mongering about cobalt and cadmium in artists' materials the "I'm against it camp" tend to make the most noise but it's quite simply true that there's little to worry about with normal studio safety precautions, the common-sense stuff like not eating or smoking in the studio, always washing paint off the hands if you get any on them, as well as in the present day not spray-applying them without adequate protection of course.

...there is also the issue of the poor Chinese Miners who pay with their health to mine the cinnabar.
I suggest you look up the major uses of mercury, which totally drive the harvesting of any mercury-bearing rock for the purpose of extracting mercury. As with many things industry drives the market; in a similar vein to the vegetarian/leather wearer argument it's important to have enough info to make an informed decision.

And incidentally I believe you'll find that the world's longest-standing, and still most important, source of mercury is not actually in China anyway ;)


Should you come across gen. Lapis (as I knew it)...please let me know.
High-quality lapis pigment - often referred to as Fra Angelico Blue - is available from a number of sources online. The problem with Lapis Blue is that the very best is from selected sources of an already costly raw material and has a labour-intensive extraction process as I'm sure you know, so the cream of the crop is often exorbitantly expensive - like $25,000 a kilo expensive.

And no, that's not a joke :eek:

Einion

georgeoh
07-27-2007, 05:43 PM
Should you come across gen. Lapis (as I knew it)... please let me know.High quality lapis lazuli is available from Natural Pigments. We have several sources of lapis lazuli: Afghanistan; Baikal, Russia; and Chile. I recommnend the premium grade (Chile origin) that we offer on the web site. We also have dry process Chinese vermilion.

Eggy
07-29-2007, 04:44 PM
Well, so far I have not come across the LL that I want (whatever the cost). The "dodgy" ones sold as "Natural" have impurities that mar the colour (especially after additional layers). Infact, I had two samples tested and was not surprised at the results !
I live in hope !

Kind regards,
Eggy

georgeoh
07-30-2007, 09:44 PM
Well, so far I have not come across the LL that I want (whatever the cost). The "dodgy" ones sold as "Natural" have impurities that mar the colour (especially after additional layers). In fact, I had two samples tested and was not surprised at the results !What have your tried, what samples did you test, and what did the test involve?

All genuine lapis lazuli (also called "natural ultramarine") is a "natural" substance, because it is a type of stone, containing the mineral lazurite that originates in nature. Lapis lazuli is a mixture of minerals: lazurite, calcite, pyrite, sodalite and other minerals. Lazurite is the mineral that is the coloring principle in lapis lazuli, while calcite is one of the impurities that often dulls the color of lapis lazuli. You will never find 100% pure lazurite pigment, as it is impossible to completely separate out the impurities, especially the calcite.

Natural Pigments has a very pure lapis lazuli, at least 70% pure lazurite, that has the best color I've seen in a lapis lazuli pigment.

Andrewcody
07-31-2007, 12:48 AM
Frankly the fact that the mining is not done solely for pigment production is inconsequential, The mining is done, and that mining is a hazardous task. I stand to be corrected but the mining of Cinnabar occurs primarily in China, there are some smaller mining deposits in California I agree but these are small by comparison.

I think you miss the point entirely. Even small amounts of Mercury, or Lead or cadmium for that matter, are hazardous. They are all accumulative heavy metals, and once inside you do not leach out again.

If there was never any fear of the hazards associated with these pigment sources I can assure you they would still be widely available. But of course as we all know they are not.

Pontificating on what might or not be a hazardous amount in any paint or pigment is really moot, and quite at a tangent from the original question re the worth of the true Vermillion or China Orange.

I still contend that the worth does not merit the cost.

georgeoh
07-31-2007, 01:12 AM
I still contend that the worth does not merit the cost.Opinion duly noted.

Einion
07-31-2007, 03:06 AM
Frankly the fact that the mining is not done solely for pigment production is inconsequential, The mining is done, and that mining is a hazardous task.
Perhaps. But it's not done for us selfish artist types :) to have our precious Vermilion, which is a point worth noting.

I stand to be corrected but the mining of Cinnabar occurs primarily in China...
Okay (http://www.hgtech.com/Mines/Almaden.htm).

I think you miss the point entirely. Even small amounts of Mercury, or Lead or cadmium for that matter, are hazardous. They are all accumulative heavy metals, and once inside you do not leach out again.
Sorry but I believe you're missing the point. While I agree completely that heavy metals are hazards that should not be taken lightly, we're talking about heavy-metal salts; not automatically the same thing in terms of risk. Not at all.

One of the best examples of this possible is that while you wouldn't want to be handling sodium much in the metal form life would be very difficult without its chloride.

If there was never any fear of the hazards associated with these pigment sources I can assure you they would still be widely available. But of course as we all know they are not.
Not to go off-topic too much but seriously now, regulations based on fears are many, and quite a few of them don't have much rational thinking behind them; some health regulations err greatly on the side of caution. I was going to give some example from the EU but points don't get much more salient than the totally OTT nature of Proposition 65.

Pontificating on what might or not be a hazardous amount in any paint or pigment is really moot, and quite at a tangent from the original question re the worth of the true Vermillion or China Orange.
The true risk that a pigment does or does not present is a very important issue (not just for this pigment) so it's both natural and appropriate for the subject to come up when heavy-metal pigments are being discussed.

Einion

georgeoh
07-31-2007, 12:55 PM
If there was never any fear of the hazards associated with these pigment sources I can assure you they would still be widely available. But of course as we all know they are not.This is not an accurate statement. The reason for replacing vermilion with substitutes such as cadmium has little to do with the fear of its hazards. Cadmium is now widely recognized as a hazard, not only in its use but in its mining. However, cadmium is still widely used, because the industrial coating industry continues to use it. However, I predict that in the next 20 years, organic pigments will replace heavy metal pigments like cadmium, and then the title of this topic will be "Genuine Cadmium - is it worth it?"

Vermilion was not dropped from its use as a pigment because of its hazard, but because it is the heaviest pigment (highest specific gravity of any known pigment) and presented problems in long-term storage of paint. Cadmium is a much lighter pigment and stays in suspension for longer periods, especially if the particle size is small and well dispersed. Industrial coating companies did not see any advantage in a color they could reasonably imitate its masstone with another lighter pigment. Hence, the world demand for vermilion decreased and its cost began to increase, further pushing it into the endangered pigments list. The reasons for not using vermilion by industrial coating manufacturers are not the same for artists and should not affect artists, because their use is quite different. However, artists' materials represent a small and insignificant portion of the pigment industry--pigment manufacturers do not cater to their needs and hence this pigment fell out of common use. However, it never fell out completely and there appears to be a revival of its use today.

Pontificating on what might or not be a hazardous amount in any paint or pigment is really moot, and quite at a tangent from the original question re the worth of the true Vermillion or China Orange.While vermilion is an expensive pigment, the typical substitute pigment, cadmium, is also quite expensive. The difference is that it is lighter in weight and hence less is required to make a similar volume of paint. Is the cost of vermilion worth it? Yes, it is worth the cost for some artists, but not for all. There are some artists, after all who believe that the cost of professional grade paints is not worth it.

illuminous art
08-28-2007, 09:35 PM
I saw those color comparisons a few people did, and though they mostly thought there wasn't much difference between Cad Red and vermilion, I see a major difference. Maybe some of us are more sensitive to color than others - I read that women are more sensitive to color than men, which would explain why men tend to like strong saturated colors while women favor softer shades.

I dislike the cadmium colors. I find them harsh, the pigment equivalent of fluorescent light. I loved the warmth and softness of vermilion. It's like the difference between lead white and titanium white - some of us feel very strongly in favor of lead, others aren't concerned and titanium is fine to them.

Anyway, first chance I get, I'm buying some of Doak's vermilion.

Andrewcody
08-28-2007, 09:52 PM
I think we all see colour differently, we can be affected in different ways and react accordingly to colour. I don't know if the gender difference is valid or not, might be. But if it was so I would assume that the male preference for colours would dominate, industry is controlled by men after all, trust everyone knows that I added that comment in mischieviously. But I do think it is as valid a point as any really, to extend the argument or discussion.

By the way was there ever a consensus on an answer to the original question posed?

georgeoh
08-28-2007, 09:57 PM
Anyway, first chance I get, I'm buying some of Doak's vermilion.That sure is a black eye. Why Doak?

georgeoh
08-28-2007, 10:01 PM
By the way was there ever a consensus on an answer to the original question posed?I do not think that a consensus was elicited by this post.

One thing that many of you are ignoring is the difference in paint characteristics created by different pigments. Whereas all have made remarks regarding the color, I did not read much about how different vermilion, cinnabar and cadmium red handles as an oil paint. There is a difference, especially when additives have not been used in the paint to mitigate these properties.

illuminous art
08-28-2007, 11:07 PM
George, you hit on something I had been wondering about. What is the difference between vermilion and cinnabar, aside from the fact that one is created in a lab and the other is found in nature?

illuminous art
08-28-2007, 11:12 PM
That sure is a black eye. Why Doak?
Ooh, sorry.

For two reasons: Because I saw a photo of it and really liked it, and because he sells a 37 ml tube for like $30.

I'd love to try your Cinnabar, and a bunch of your other colors too, when I have the money. Promise!

georgeoh
08-28-2007, 11:14 PM
For two reasons: Because I saw a photo of it and really liked it, and because he sells a 37 ml tube for like $30.Photo? Interesting. $30? Even more interesting.

georgeoh
08-28-2007, 11:16 PM
George, you hit on something I had been wondering about. What is the difference between vermilion and cinnabar, aside from the fact that one is created in a lab and the other is found in nature?There is much difference -- particle size, hue and crystals.

gunzorro
08-29-2007, 02:11 PM
Early last week, I had worked up this color comparison for a painting I was working on, regarding genuine vermilion and associated or similar pigments I had on hand.
With regard to "Why Doak?" -- I've used the three versions of vermilion by Holbein (which I found highly unsatisfactory) and the Doak. The Doak has been wonderful to work with -- a brilliant color with strong tinting strength. If I have a problem, as with many Doak paints, it is with the oil separation. But that is a small complaint, and Doak is certainly not the only one -- Puro, Rembrandt, and many others also need a paper towel to drain oil into. I've not tried NP Vermilion, nor Studio Products, both of which have a good reputation.
The target color, or father of the family, was the Doak Vermilion.
After reading the renewed interest in this thread, I decided to share this info with you.
Please note in the tinting with the white, which paints had the strongest tinting strength. The more white showing, the weaker the paint. Supporting my endorsement of the Maimeri Puro cadmiums -- you'll see they are so strong and brilliant that the white (titanium+lead) hardly has any impact.
Since the conversation moved into cinnabar, today I hastily added the new Sennelier color (PR208) in the lower right corner. An unusual color, with a definite rose-pink color to it. I'm curious how it compares to other versions of natural cinnabar.
As a result of this comparison, I mixed OH Cad Scarlet and Doak's Vermilion, having been curious about the Vasari paint with a similar combination. I was pleased with the resulting mix, having a slightly higher opacity and greater stiffness than the Doak paint by itself.
As you can see, many colors are similar to the true vermilion, even when mixed with white. Some of these paints are too orange, and many of the Cad Red Lt. are too red -- I knew this going in to the comparison, but I wanted to see just how much more red these brands were.
The advantages of true vermilion are subtle, and most noticed in delicate tints mixed with white and earth colors, as in skin colors. But I can't see how anyone can presume that Cad Red Lt. is a replacement color for genuine vermilion. Something else, perhaps, but not that.
I can happily recommend the Williamsburg Perm. Red Orange, the Mussini Vermilion Tone (PR255) and the OH Cad Scarlet as quality paints that provide similar (not the same!) results as the vermilion.

Paints shown, top to bottom, left to right:
Holbein Cad Orange Red
OH Schev Red Scarlet
Williamsburg Perm. Red Orange
Doak Gen. Vermilion
Mussini Vermilion Tone
Daniel Smith Pyrol Scarlet (Autograph Series)

Maimeri Puro Cad Red Orange
OH Cad Scarlet
Permanent Pigments Cad-Barium Red Lt. (similar to the current Grumbacher)
Utrecht Cad Red Lt.
Mussini Cad Red Lt.
Maimeri Puro Cad Red Lt.

Maimeri Brera (oil, not acrylic) Vermilion Lt. Tone
Sennelier Cinnabar Red

http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c80/gunzorro/IMG_1427web.jpg

Here's the painting, which used the Doak/OH mix as part of the top layer, before the white:

White Bands Forming, 28x30, oil on linen

http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c80/gunzorro/WhiteBandsForming28x30web.jpg

georgeoh
08-29-2007, 02:29 PM
I've not tried NP Vermilion, nor Studio Products, both of which have a good reputation.You should try Rublev Vermilion made by Natural Pigments -- it is pure vermilion in oil without additives.

illuminous art
08-29-2007, 05:07 PM
gunzorro, thanks for posting that. That was a great way to see how the different paints perform. Your painting is great too.

Have you tried storing your paints with the cap down? It seems to help the oil stay mixed with the paint. Although you have to make sure those caps are on good and tight or it wants to leak. ;)

I would love to see someone do this exercise with the Rublev Vermilion and Cinnabar.

Color charts and even single photos are one thing, but there's nothing like seeing paint in action, stacked up against the competitors, to help you see the differences.

gunzorro
08-29-2007, 05:58 PM
Ha-ha!! You don't know what your asking! :lol:
Even though I've cut down my paint collection, I've still got at least 400-500 tubes!! :)
I have them in bin drawers, sorted roughly by color. To stand them upright would be hilarious -- in any way that you could identify all the tubes for selection.
Oiliness is very low on my list of problems, except for when it leaks out around the cap (thin oils like poppy and safflower have a bad habit of doing this). Oh well!
I'm down about 20% from the point at which this photo was taken last winter, 2006-2007.

http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c80/gunzorro/IMG_0422web.jpg

Yes, George, I would some day like to try your NP paints.

Mariette Deveau
08-29-2007, 07:30 PM
http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c80/gunzorro/IMG_0422web.jpg

:D :D :D teeheehee... wouldn't I feel like a kid in a candy store, in there ! !



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gunzorro
08-30-2007, 11:17 AM
These paints can be harmful if swallowed! ;)

Brian Firth
08-31-2007, 10:35 AM
Holy crap Jim! Now I don't feel quite so bad about my obscene collection of art supplies. :lol:

I have the Natural Pigment dry pigment Vermilion and Doakís Vermilion. Doak's is more orange than the Natural Pigmentís pigment. However, they are both very nice and the Natural Pigmentís pigment is also an orange leaning beautiful red. I have attached a photo of the two masstones. I would recommend both, but I lean towards the color of the Natural Pigments version as it is a little more versatile shade.

In the past I also had the three Holbein Vermilions, which proved to not be lightfast in my tests, and was confirmed by Jim's tests. This was a shame as the three shades were unique, with the French Vermilion being more orange than Doak's. The Holbein Vermilion was close to the Natural Pigments version, but a little more orange. Lastly, the Chinese Vermilion was a cool vermilion with a slight bluish cast, but was also the most unstable. The Holbein Chinese Vermilion even darkened on my palette in indirect sunlight!!! Also, the Holbein pigment load was lower than Doak's. Holbein claimed they were reformulating their vermilions to remedy the problem, but I have never heard anything else from them. I am testing the Natural Pigment's vermilion and the Doak vermilion and so far they are both holding up with no darkening after a few months. The Holbein samples started darkening within two weeks!!!

Mariette Deveau
08-31-2007, 11:50 AM
These paints can be harmful if swallowed! ;):lol: :lol: :lol: Indeed!



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gunzorro
08-31-2007, 03:00 PM
Brian -- glad I could make you feel better! It's always nice to know you aren't the only insane person! :)
I'll bet there are a few more closet collectors out there. ;)

illuminous art
08-31-2007, 08:56 PM
Brian, thanks for the picture. It's a little hard to read the paint chips, though, as they are upside down.

mr.wiggles
09-01-2007, 09:23 AM
I have read in John Carson's Guide to Landscape Painting that if one uses Lead White that Vermilion and Cadmium Yellows should not be used.

The interesting thing is he says Cad Reds are safe in any mixture which makes no sense to me as it is the same chemical, Cadmium Sulfide, I'm not a chemist so I have no idea why the yellows would have a reaction if any and why the reds did not.

I am not sure about Vermilion as I don't use it hardly at all. I would be interested if anyone knows if this is true.

I use flake white a lot and I have been for years with Cad yellow's and Orange and have not noticed anything.

I think Carson's warning stems from the time period, his book was first published in 1929 and it could be that Cadmiums of this time had more impurities in them as they did in the 19 century and that what was causing a reaction.

For what it's worth I found this link (http://www.sanders-studios.com/instruction/tutorials/historyanddefinitions/pgmt.southlight.html),
it shows test with all the sulfuric pigments(except Vermilion) and lead and they show no signs of any reactions.
I am going to do my own test as well.

illuminous art
09-01-2007, 01:30 PM
That can't be true. Think of all the figure painters who used lead white and vermilion to paint flesh.

GeorgeOh pointed out that some vermilions darkened because they were made with the wet process, but vermilion made with the dry process would not darken. Perhaps Carson was unaware of this.

mr.wiggles
09-01-2007, 02:05 PM
I agree or maybe in his day the quality was so bad that it turned dark, like Holbein Vermilion does now I have never used it but I read in this thread a few pages back that it did. SO maybe he had bad Vermilion and just never used after that. Who knows.
I think gunzorro said it turned dark on his palette just from leaving it out for a few days, or something to that effect..