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Old 12-05-2014, 07:15 AM
indraneel indraneel is offline
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What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

I don't have a tube of it and don't think I've used it (unless student grade Crimson lake qualifies). Am I missing anything? Should I try to find a tube of it to find out what it is? I have PV19 and PR122 on my palette. Are these not sufficient? Does Alizarin crimson look better or more natural... for something?

I guess all these postings of alizarin crimson are making me rather curious. In other news, the next generation of lithium batteries may also use madder root...
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Old 12-05-2014, 10:09 AM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

Alizarin crimson, like Rose madder, is a very old and traditional watercolor paint which has some appealing qualities to it. The recommendations for using it go back a long time, and generations of painters and teachers have recommended its use. A number of painter still recommend it.

The problem, of course, is that the traditional Alizarin crimson (and Rose madder) are fugitive, fading unpredictably over time to a rather dull brownish color.

As a result any painter that cares about longevity of their work should look for other lightfast paints.

It amazes me that some currently respected painters and teachers still recommend these non-lightfast paints.

In my opinion, you are missing nothing by not using either paint.

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Old 12-05-2014, 10:12 AM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

I use it as a mixing color. It's a staining color. Also, when used as a stand alone, tends to turn a bit brown over time. Mixes well though. This is one of those colors you can use in the student grade and mix in with the artist's grades to save a few nickles.

That's my take.
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Old 12-05-2014, 10:47 AM
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Aderynglas Aderynglas is offline
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

If you haven't come under the spell of Alizarin Crimson, don't try it.

It's beautiful, dark blueish red with great depth of tone and clarity/purity in masstone, and red to pink in washes and light washes. It mixes beautifully.

It's fugitive and ADDICTIVE.

Once you've used it you will forever be looking for the exact replacement in a permanent paint. There is no exact substitute, only approximations and some are closer than others.

I find PR177 (Turner Watercolours Permanent Crimson) the closest match. Others don't agree and prefer different substitutes I've loved it since first using it in the 1970s, it was really difficult finding a substitute that worked for me

The manufacturer who comes up with a perfect Permanent Alizarin Crimson substitute should make a fortune
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Old 12-05-2014, 11:54 AM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

I think addictive is how I've described it before too. People start using it, and if they're ever told it's not lightfast they'll either refuse to believe it or they'll look for an alternative that looks exactly like it. Of course they won't find it, because pigments are unique, and they'll claim they're dissatisfied with the alternatives because of slight differences. Instead of valuing the alternatives as valuable pigments in their own right, they're constantly being compared to alizarin crimson to the point that they're often not even given a name of their own but are called things like permanent alizarin crimson.

Alizarin crimson became available at a time when there was a hole in all palettes for a lightfast red of that kind. Because it was a synthetic production of the alizarin component of madder root extract it was far cheaper than madder lake. People's options at the time were essentially to either use an expensive non-lightfast crimson or a cheap non-lightfast crimson.

If pigments like PR177 and PR264 had been invented in 1868 and alizarin crimson had instead been invented much later, probably nobody would be using alizarin crimson and all of the crimson paints out there that were given its name as substitutes would instead have their own names.



...secretly though I have a small jar of alizarin crimson pigment that I keep wanting to make into paint so I can use it with cobalt yellow and some others. Even if it's not lightfast, I can scan it, and it's fun to explore the uniqueness of different pigments.
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Old 12-05-2014, 01:48 PM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yellow_oxide
Alizarin crimson became available at a time when there was a hole in all palettes for a lightfast red of that kind. Because it was a synthetic production of the alizarin component of madder root extract it was far cheaper than madder lake. People's options at the time were essentially to either use an expensive non-lightfast crimson or a cheap non-lightfast crimson.

If pigments like PR177 and PR264 had been invented in 1868 and alizarin crimson had instead been invented much later, probably nobody would be using alizarin crimson and all of the crimson paints out there that were given its name as substitutes would instead have their own names.

Exactly! And it does not help that some manufacturers have created a replacement but still labeled it as Alizarin Crimson, and that artists who are using Permanent Alizarin Crimson sometimes list it as only Alizarin Crimson.
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Old 12-05-2014, 11:12 PM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

Yes there really is nothing like Alizarin Crimson (the real thing). Fortunately it is not expensive, so anyone who is not convinced that their paintings must keep the same color indefinitely can enjoy AC. It is beautiful for portraits.
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Old 12-06-2014, 12:09 AM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

If you have an "Alizarin Crimson Hue" (a mix of two or more pigments), you can use that. If you don't, I think that your PR122 might come closest to matching "original" Alizarin Crimson. In the Golden heavy-body line of acrylics, they have an "Alizarin Crimson Hue" (PR122/PR206/PG7). As you can see, it contains PR122, but also tones it down some with its complement, Phthalo Green (PG7), and you could tone down your PR122 as you mix your paint. There's a current thread about the fugitiveness (fugitivity?) of "original" Alizarin Crimson over at the Color Theory and Mixing section, along with photos of some of the fading - some of which evidently can occur in as short a period of time as a few hours (!) after the paint has been applied. I would be really concerned to not use "original" Alizarin Crimson esp. if I was painting with watercolors, since thin washes of color are so often used, which means that fading can show up quite quickly.
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Old 12-06-2014, 01:22 AM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

It's alluring. That's it. Alluring and really not replaceable, or we'd all be in love with the substitute and raving about that instead.

I have some old student grade Rose Madder (bought long before I knew about lightfastness) and there really is just something about it. Don't know why it draws me so, since the only red I typically use is PR101 Venetian Red. Nowadays I have to be in a really girly mood to break out the PV19.
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Old 12-06-2014, 04:15 AM
indraneel indraneel is offline
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

Wow, thanks for all the caution to never be addicted to cocaine.. err.. alizarin I wonder if I should keep a pot () of it somewhere just to feel secure

I do use naphthol red (PR112), PG7 and PR101 to push and pull the quinacridones. But then, I don't have much experience layering colors, or with skin tones. Also, why is it liked as a mixing color? What does it do that others can't? Does it have undertones that come through in mixes?
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Old 12-06-2014, 07:31 AM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

For those who've chosen to use PR177 anthraquinoid red, Handprint claims that it's only marginally lightfast. It really is not a great substitute for alizarin crimson. In fact, there is no satisfactory replacement colour. We have to adjust our palettes to incorporate mixtures that might satisfy our needs.

My Students have no idea what any of this means because they've never used PR83.

Indraneel, I used alizarin PR83 in the portraits of my granddaughters, painted several years ago. They've faded leaving the girls looking very jaundiced.

Mixing a fugitive colour with other lightfast pigments does not reduce its tendency to fade.
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Old 12-06-2014, 08:36 AM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

According to The Colour of Art Database, PR177 has a Blue Wool Scale result of 8:8:8

Which is about as good as it gets!

Handprint did his last lightfastness tests in 2004 - Which puts that information 10 years out of date now.
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Old 12-06-2014, 10:20 AM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

I usually express caution when referring to Handprint's data and should have qualified my comment this time. Yes, this site has become outdated in the respect that new pigments and changed formulas are not present or updated. In this case, I don't know that the PR177 formulation has been changed, so Bruce's observations can stand as they were written so many years ago.

The simple fact that something is 10 years old really doesn't negate the science behind the testing process. If nothing has changed, then it merely means that the information is 10 years old.

It's clear that Artist Creation's findings contradict those reviewed on Handprint. This again is based on their testing (I'll assume) and their positive results are good news to all who are using this pigment.

Frankly, the disparate results suggest that we should all do our own lightfast tests! I did not include this pigment in my own test sheets because I don't use it, so cannot speak from personal experience.
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Old 12-06-2014, 11:39 AM
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

Quote:
Frankly, the disparate results suggest that we should all do our own lightfast tests!

Absolutely

And Handprint is very careful to expand on this


Quote:
My reviews, and the pigment information found in the guide to watercolor pigments, cannot be relied upon to provide accurate and up to date consumer information about the painting materials currently available for your purchase. Like The Wilcox Guide to Watercolor Paints or Hilary Page's Guide to Watercolor Paints, my reviews are based on an absurdly limited sample of a paint brand's total manufacturing output, and a brand can change its paint formulations in unpredictable ways, at any time, and without notice
.

If nothing else though, all the discussion on different paints gets everyone thinking about what they use, and why, and surely, that's a good thing?
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Old 12-06-2014, 12:22 PM
briantmeyer briantmeyer is offline
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Re: What is (real) Alizarin Crimson... and should I care?

Handprint says PR177 for Daniel smith is at 7,7, which is actually not great but pretty good and acceptable. It uses the word "marginally lightfast", but look at the actual data where it lists wool scale numbers, it says it's at an acceptable 7,7 for this one brand.

For other brands, it's got much lower results. Unlike a pigment where even the worst supplier has a 8,8, or for alizarin where the best might have a 3 or 4. This has always indicated that for this pigment the brand matters, and Daniel Smith did something much better. It's a vat dye which in general is marginal.

( This is why I list it as varied permanence in my own listing, it's based on the wool scale number handprint lists, and means you HAVE to do your own double check as brand formulas matter more in these pigments )

I don't see artist creation does it's own testing, if it does it's sporadic and isn't specific to watercolors, or it's one specific color as it does not show which brand a given result was for. Something that has a rating of 7 even as low as 4 might very well have a rating of 8 in oil paints. But then that is the key issue with how pigments are rated and PR177 ( and PY40 ) actually can vary quite a bit and do much worse.

And if you read the description.

Quote:
The light fastness rating can only be a general guide, when available, i have used the ASTM rating or manufacturers literature to arrive at this figure. The ASTM has not rated all pigments, and I believe will no longer be rating pigments. For that reason the rating in this database will not always be the ASTM rating but a rating culled from other sources, most importantly manufactures literature.

Again nothing that this isn't just a convenient listing of ASTM and woolscale testing which is done by the same people who've repeated been misleading us on the tubes of paint. Just because this site is more up to date, does not mean it's actually using information sources that are more up to date. And since handprint is protected by copyright, he probably cannot use the only real source of information critical of the industry.

One of the things I like on handprint is where he compares other information sources, like ASTM, Wilcox, Hilary Page, Wool scale tests. I kind of follow his line of thinking when I looked at artist creation. Testing is expensive to do, anyone doing so would clearly show the procedures, what is tested, and all the details, this is only evident on Bruce MacEvoy's site and in Hilary Pages book. From what I can see ASTM testing is done once, and quite often is far more out of date than handprint, but then a test does not actually go out of date unless the paint itself changes between then and now.

I'd be very care with PR177, especially if it's not the Daniel Smith brand. I do know suhato did lightfastness testing of Indrathene Blue and Anthriquindone red ( and uses Daniel Smith instead of Schmicke ). Even then don't assume it's an 8,8 unless you have proof in your own testing.
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