View Full Version : Richeson Paints -- The Shiva Series, Part 2

05-24-2010, 01:01 PM
Okay, I’m not going to write a novel this time, especially since this is essentially a continuation of my recent introduction to the Richeson line of paints.

The first time http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=618600&highlight=richeson, I was quite impressed with the performance of the Richeson Shiva Series paints, especially because they are unpretentiously positioned as an economical brand. I was impressed enough, that I asked for some additional samples for comparison.

Here are the new colors tested, concentrating on earth colors:

Cad Yellow Light, PY35.1
Yellow Ochre, combination PY42, PY43
Raw Sienna, PY43
Light Red, combination PR102, PR101
Van Dyke Brown, combination PR102, PBr7
Burnt Umber, PBr7
Cerulean Blue, PB36
Ultramarine Blue Light, PB29
Ferrous Black, PBk11

And to try to determine the difference between several of the whites offered (Richeson offers four), I requested Zinc White, Titanium White (with zinc) and Ultra White (titanium, zinc – this paint was used in the last comparion).


Consistency and handling of all these samples was excellent, except for the Ultramarine Blue, which was a little loose, but still very acceptable for a transparent paint (not overly stabilized).

This second sheet shows the comparison to other brands.


Cad Yellow Light – As you can see from the “pull” at the end of the palette knife stroke, the Richeson is the loosest consistency of the three, also the weakest tinting of the three. The weaker tinting is due to the more diluted Cadmium-Barium pigment combination compared to the other two samples’ pure Cad Yellow PY35. The Blue Ridge is the thickest consistency, but the Blockx is the smoothest and highest tinting strength by a touch. Blockx is also the highest chroma of the three. Which begs the question: what is the quality/price ratio for you particular needs? Perhaps a high percent o f artists will be satisfied with the Cad-Barium choice at a much lower price – it’s worked for other brands like Grumbacher and Permanent Pigments, among others.

Yellow Ochre -- Although the Richeson choice to combine both synthetic and natural yellow ochre pigments might seem odd, it is an interesting placement color-wise, right between the two and incorporating the best of both worlds. Shown with the Richeson is L&B’s beautiful natural Yellow Ochre Light (slightly darker and more orange) and Blockx’s impressive synthetic (slightly lighter and more yellow) – the Richeson is right in the middle with excellent performance.

Raw Sienna – Richeson has gone with a natural earth here, slightly on the red side. I’ve compared it with two other natural Raw Siennas from L&B (L&B is often overlooked by buyers and highly underrated for its natural earths, in addition to its synthetic earths, both of which are excellent) and Vasari. Vasari is my favorite version of Raw Sienna, but both these others acquit themselves well against it with their own subtleties. A note on consistency – we’ve been having a debate on consistency and handling on another thread regarding Natural Pigment’s Rublev historic paints http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=622061, and I wanted to point out the differences in consistency here: The Richeson and L&B are about the same, what I consider near-perfect consistency. The Vasari is soupier, more like slurry, as evidenced by the long draping “tail” at the end of the pull from the palette knife. Despite that oil-richness, Vasari still manages to have the highest covering power and tinting strength of the three.

Light Red – This Richeson version would be better labeled as Indian Red, than Light Red. When most of us think of Light Red, we imagine something like Blockx version (not shown here), which is a light red oxide, a step lighter than natural Venetian Red. I’ve placed this Richeson version up against Old Holland’s Persian (Indian) Red, and you can see they are almost the same, with the OH slightly more purple looking. Mussini’s Pozzuoli Red is also shown. The Richeson Light Red has excellent handling and super tinting strength.


Burnt Umber – Richeson is very similar in color and strength to Mussini’s version (Richeson may even be a touch stronger). My favorite from OH shows a much richer chroma than the other two, more to my liking and expectation of what Burnt Umber should look like. I’ve found this is pretty typical of this pigment – two distinct types – one being more colorful and the other type more neutral.

Van Dyke Brown – I wonder if this one isn’t mislabeled by Richeson. The label says it is natural red oxide PR102 plus natural brown ochre/umber PBr7. But traditionally, most makers use the PBr7 with ivory/bone black, like these other two samples do from Maimeri Puro and Old Holland. You can see all three are similarly ultra-low-chroma paints, nearly grey. Regardless of whether black is used or not, the consistency and quality are excellent again for Richeson. (Please keep in mind that the Richeson is a budget priced artist-grade paint, being compared against the very top of premium paints here, so it’s doing quite well!)

Cerulean Blue – Richeson, like most companies, uses the cheaper PB36 pigment of Cerulean Blue (the “genuine” is PB35). Here it is contrasted against a favorite of mine from Puro and a different version (probably PB35) from Vasari. The Richeson is much weaker in tinting strength and lower chroma overall, compared to the Puro.

Ultramarine Blue Light -- Previously, I’d tried the Richeson “Deep” version and wanted to see how the Light would compare to other brands. The Richeson holds up very well – almost a dead ringer for the Old Holland version, which is a favorite of mine. But both of those need to bow down to the Harding Ultramarine Blue for its intense chroma and tinting strength.

This final sheet is a comparison of blacks and whites.


I expanded the Mars Black comparison to a fourth brand, since I had extra space on the sheet. The Richeson Ferrous Black (AKA Mars Black, or Iron Black) shows strong tinting power and holds its own against Winsor Newton Artist and Old Holland – actually, I prefer both WN and Richeson to the OH for consistency, handling and finish (OH is more like putty and more matte in finish). All three are superior to the Sennelier, which is looser and only half as powerful. The result of this comparison is that this tube Sennelier Mars Black is going on eBay soon, and the Richeson is taking its place in my collection.


Here is a side view of reflectance to get a better idea of consistency: The Richeson and WN are about what I consider perfect – smooth matte finish with short, sharp peaks at the end of the stroke of the palette knife. The Sennelier is far glossier (the darker appearance is the result of the glossiness and the angle of light, not an indication of pigment strength, which is weakest), and more slurry, with the long tail draping into the back stroke of the palette knife which we’ve been seeing associated with oil-rich paints (fortunately, without stabilizer to thicken it up!). The OH samples show the pastiest consistency – note the extremely short breaking peaks – and the dullest matte surface (even the first 50/50 mix with white shows how stiff it still is).

On the right side of the sheet is the white test, comparing Richeson Zinc White, Titanium White (with smaller proportion of zinc) and Ultra White (with almost equal titanium/zinc content, although titanium is listed first, usually indicating a higher percentage).

I chose to mix in an opaque and transparent in the Red/Red-Purple and Cyan/Blue-Green ranges. For these I chose OH Bright Red, Harding genuine Alizarin Crimson, OH Cyan Blue and Mussini Translucent Turquoise.

As expected, the straight Zinc has the least covering power, and so has the darkest tints and highest chroma mixed with each color. The Titanium in the middle has the lightest tints and greatest covering power, so it is also the lowest chroma of the batch. Ultra White is right in between the Titanium and Zinc, slightly closer to the titanium results. While all three had very good consistency, the Ultra White was outstanding and had the smoothest consistency and handling of the three, making it much easier to mix with. The Ultra White looks like a very good candidate to mix into a lead white for my preferred 50/50 mix for an all around white.

I’m quite impressed with the Richeson line overall. I can see areas where it can improve, but on the whole, the quality is quite high compared to the very reasonable prices it is being sold for. Although not having the depth of some other established brands like Winsor Newton or Sennelier, the quality of the paints is about on par with these mid-to-upper Artist Grand paints. For beginning painters looking for better quality, I can recommend Richeson along with Da Vinci, Art Spectrum and L&B as favorite choices.