View Full Version : Color choice

Nancy Lee
05-17-2002, 10:14 PM
Hi, I've never been in this forum, but hope I'm posting this question in the proper location... seems like a logical place, lets see........ :rolleyes:

I've only been painting (watercolor) for a few years, but have enjoyed collecting different watercolor books, for both of those years. Some are second hand, but mostly new. I've noticed that in some of the older books a recommendation is Vermilion. In the new books I never see this color mentioned. Can you tell me why? Is there something wrong with this color? I've used it together with Ultramarine Blue, and it mixes into a nice lavender color.

Thanks for any info. you can share on this.


chris 97
05-17-2002, 10:52 PM
vermillion has been replaced by another color name. i cant remember exactly why, i think it has to do with what they dont put in it anymore (probably something on the hazardous side?)
i still have a tube or 2 of vermillion and will use it all up eventually.

05-18-2002, 10:38 PM
This is now Cadmium Red.
All will be revealed at ;-

;) ;)

Nancy Lee
05-20-2002, 11:37 AM
Thanks for answering this question. That was alot of reading.... whew....., lol... But, I still find that Holbein, Daler-Rowney, Rembrant sell Vermilion, and WN, and a few other's sell a Vermilion Hue.... Maybe it isn't used as much today in watercolor because of its opaque quality?

Thanks for viewing and answering......:)


05-21-2002, 10:33 AM
Originally posted by Nancy Lee
Maybe it isn't used as much today in watercolor because of its opaque quality?

Vermillion is:

- not generally considered to be highly permanent
- containing mercury and therefore considered to be toxic or hazardous (vermillion principally is mercury sulfide, and as such, dispersed im medium, not volatile and therefore not really dangerous, unless you eat the paint. If for some reason the pimgment should get into the dust (as small particles) or, due to some odd chemical reaction, the sulfide should break up, it has a signficant toxic potential).

Nancy Lee
05-21-2002, 10:56 AM
AH HA......... I think I'm finally beginning to understand. That makes sense. :D

Thanks everyone, you've answered a question that has bothered me for a while now. Some times it just takes a while for the message to get across :D and sink in. lol.


06-03-2002, 11:00 PM
Nancy.. I think it is like Manganese Blue....they changed to the "hue" when they stopped making the pure.

Vermillion was toxic as hell.....if anyone is still making it, I doubt it is the same formulation.

06-05-2002, 03:00 AM
Pampe, it is still being made, these days mostly by the Chinese method I believe and, perhaps not surprisingly, much of it comes from China. It is still valued by some for its particular hue and luminous undercolour, over the lighter cadmium reds which it resembles but which are much dirtier mixers; a number of the oil painters on the site use the genuine article and I think Sarkana makes it. It is now pretty much only available in oils, where the binder offers sufficient protection for it to be fairly permanent, but it has a tendency to turn black over time for reasons not understand fully so I would avoid it myself.

In watercolours it darkens much more readily which was the main reason for its disappearance and, as you say, it is also very toxic, being made from mercury, so public perception of this issue may have played a part too.


Nancy Lee
06-05-2002, 11:24 AM
Wow, if I stick around long enough, I just may learn something. I had no idea it would darken. I've used it on a couple of my watercolor paintings, and I'll now watch them and see if they continue to darken. How interesting.

Thanks Pam and Einion for your reply's.


Scott Methvin
06-05-2002, 05:38 PM
Originally posted by Einion
a number of the oil painters on the site use the genuine article ...

I just made up a tube this morning. The real deal is fairly expensive. About $35 of dry pigment being only enough to make 1/3 of a normal sized tube. (100gms) It goes a long way, so I'll be ok for a few months.

The very best reason I use it, is for the dead on color of flesh. Nothing I have ever used looks so realistic as a red in flesh. This is especially true with lips and ears. Makes a very nice pink with lead white.

Vermillion is very opaque. (One of the most opaque in oil painting)Hard to glaze with, because it covers so well. If you want it to look really, really red, all you have to do is glaze over it with a madderish quinacridone.

I don't like the cadmiums, because they dry so slow. Vermillion dries pretty quick and solid.

I have read Doerner's report of the blackening phenomenon, but have had no trouble over the last 2 years. Could be impurities in the pigment. I think lots of historical problems relate to poor suppliers.

The only downside is the mercury content of this pigment. I am very careful with it and the dry pigment is not light and dry, but sort of dampish, like lead white. This type of pigment does not create dust in the air to any degree, like say a pthalo or a quinacridone. Those are so light and difficult to work with that the slightest puff of air will cause a cleaning disaster.

I say to those who have never tried the real vermillion, to try it with flesh. It is an advantage you should keep in your paintbox for that alone.

It ain't cadmium.