Color shopping in gouache

I’ve just spent what seems to be the last 1.5 hours trying to find a good, warm red to replace my Scarlet Lake.  It’s…not the most fun thing, but I am about to get into painting my mandala, and don’t want to deal with my oranges fading.

I’ve settled on three different paints, keeping in mind that I’m avoiding cadmium colors.  One of them in particular caught my eye as a good replacement for Scarlet Lake, but appears also not to be wholly lightfast:  this is Holbein Flame Red.

Instead of this, though, I’m fairly certain that if I can find it, Da Vinci Red will be a better buy (though I should compare the diluted swatches side by side to be sure).  Da Vinci’s pigment (PR 188) is more lightfast, and — if their Light Red is any indication, it warms decently with the addition of yellow (the two paints both use PR 188, if I’m correct).

While I was looking, I also found a decent replacement for W&N’s Sky Blue:  Holbein Peacock Blue.  It is a mix of two Phthalo colors plus white, but the Sky Blue I have is…weak, or so I’ve tended to see it.  I’ve wanted to make more intense greens than is possible with that Sky Blue (which, granted, is probably from 2007).  Sky Blue is just the last of the old batch of gouache in my split-primary palette, and I don’t particularly like it (at all), so I’m thinking of replacing it for this reason.

The last color I saw, which would approximate Scarlet Lake but still…not be wholly lightfast (this must be a problem in reds) is Holbein Brilliant Orange.  Apparently, it’s fine full-strength, but fades in tints.  However, it’s very close to the color I have now, which makes brilliant oranges and red-oranges.  I also have found that there is no name for “orange”, traditionally, in Japanese — the term is closer to “yellowish red” (or so the book Colorist would infer); as Holbein is a Japanese company, I wouldn’t be surprised if the concept behind “Brilliant Orange” was indeed “yellowish red”.

Scarlet Lake is something that I haven’t done any lightfastness tests on myself; however, looking at the nine-year-old portfolio from Color Dynamics that I got off the shelf, it keeps its color decently when not exposed to light.  I had just heard on the WetCanvas forum that Scarlet Lake was fugitive.  In addition, that particular paint color is not being made by W&N in gouache, anymore.  Nor do I know the pigment composition, because it was made before W&N started labeling the pigment content of their paints.

Shopping list:

  • Da Vinci Red gouache
  • Holbein Peacock Blue gouache
  • Holbein Brilliant Orange gouache

estimated cost:  $24 – $5 gift coupon = $19

Not to mention that I’ve got to pick up some thumb drives tomorrow, too (>8 GB), to back up some mess…

EDIT:  Actually, nah, I’m just getting Flame Red and Peacock Blue.  $9 with gift coupon.


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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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