All Perylenes

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    Sandra Strait

    Sharon Nolfi started a topic for Perylene Green and Tonya and I got off onto Perylene Maroon.  Rather than continuing to hijack Sharon’s thread, I thought I would start one for the all Perylene colors.  I went out to Handprint, because I wanted to know a little more about the the pigment.

    To summarize the information at Hadnprint, Perylenes have been around since 1912, when they were used as Vat Dyes.  The Perylenes available are: scarlets (PR123, PR149, PR190), reds (PR178), dark maroons (PR190, PR179, PR224, PV29), and a very dark green (PBk31).

    Perylene is a mid valued, nontoxic pigment. It has finely divided particles, which gives it transparency and makes it staining. Perylene watercolors range from very good to excellent lightfastness.

    Most watercolor pigments come from either the automotive or beauty industry.  Perylenes are used in the automotive industry, and if that industry quits using a color, so do the watercolor manufacturers, once stockpiles run out.

    The Perylene colors can vary quite a bit from brand to brand.  I’ve used the M. Graham’s Maroon Perylene and Mission Gold Perylene Maroon, but am out of both.  I tried to find swatches of both, but could only find this one I did showing mixes I did with the Mission Gold version and Ultramarine Blue.  It does show what I like about Perylene Maroon.  It granulates nicely, creates beautiful violets and browns and you can get very dark values with it.

    It does tend to be dull (but not necessary muddy) so it won’t be a good choice for someone who is looking for bold, bright colors (unless they want a contrast).


    Teri Casper

    Thanks so much for all the info you so generously share with us.

    Sandra Strait

    The pleasure is all mine! I’m a geek when it comes to things like this, and sharing it here gives me the excuse to indulge myself, lol!

    Sharon Nolfi

    Thanks for this information. I’ve been thinking of getting more of the perylene hues.

    Sandra Strait

    Sharon, it’s my pleasure.  I think the Perylenes are an under utilized group of colors, but I can see where they wouldn’t work for everyone.

    Sandra Strait

    So on with the saga of Perylene Maroon, or in my post today, Maroon Perylene from M. Graham.  I thought I was out, but while searching for tubes to trade, I found my tube and it still had a smidge in it.  Here’s the break-down from the M Graham site:

    Pigment Composition – Perylene (PR 179)
    Lightfast Rating – Excellent – LF I
    Opacity Rating – Transparent
    Staining/Granulating – Staining
    Size – .5 oz

    Now notice that it says ‘staining’ and notice that I said I had a smidge.  Well, this paint is tacky and yes it stains.  It stained my blouse and my pants and the arm of my chair.  That isn’t entirely the paints fault.  I am grace personified and this kind of thing is why I prefer pans.  I open a tube and color is instantly transferred to all items within reaching distance.

    But onto the paint itself.   As you can see from the swatch, it has quite a pigment load and sort of goes on forever before the color runs out.  The streakiness is the paper (bristol instead of watercolor) and my hurry.  I’ll do something more proper when I have the DV Perylene Maroon and can do a comparison of the two.

    I haven’t tried the Da Vinci version yet, but I suspect it will not be as intense as the M Graham.  As I was painting with this I wondered why I hadn’t bought another tube, or used it more, because it is a BEE-YOU-TI-FUL color.  Then I looked at the stains on my clothes and didn’t find it so beautiful.  And then I did my Art for the Lunch Bag and thought, what  great color for a fox.

    Now I did this painting on a Hahnemühle Watercolor Postcard, one of the most forgiving surfaces in all the world. Paint lifts so easily, and I’ve developed a method of painting a mid-dark value and lifting for my lighter values.  Ha. Did I mention that Maroon Perylene stains?  Once I had it down, it did not budge and I ended up using vast amounts of opaque white ink to cover and repaint.

    Now I’m not saying you should avoid this color.  ‘I’ probably should because of the klutz thing and all, but it is a gorgeous color.  I’ll hold off buying more until I try out the Da Vinci, though and see if I can get the color, but save my clothes from being tye-died.

    I did learn that Maroon Perylene and Qor’s Transparent Pyrrole Orange (PO71) go well together, and that Cobalt Green and Perylene Green work well with them.


    Here is my contribution to the colors, Daniel Smith, and frankly, the red is lovely but opaque no not my cup of tea.


    Sandra Strait

    Thank you for the chart, Kate.  I wonder what they do to the red that makes it opaque, since transparency is usually a feature of the Perylenes.  Probably something to do with the way it is milled or something that is added. Why do I even care about these things, lol.


    I’ve avoided Perylenes because of the red I bought first!  When you first lay it down you cannot even see the lines….

    Margaret Barry

    Out of curiosity, I was looking at the composition of Perylene Green. Perylene is a chemical compound and is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH). PAHs have a low degree of acute toxicity BUT are considered carcinogenic, nevertheless. This article states Perylene is a non-toxic pigment. I am not a chemist, but you should be questioning the validity of comments made by contributors who are simply taking their comments from who knows where.

    Sandra Strait

    That is true. I’ve become more wary of any claims, even where items are certified to be one thing or another. Pigments may be toxic in many ways. Some are safe to handle, but you don’t want to breath in the unprocessed powder, or ingest the paint.  Wording in claims may be legal, but convey a false impression.

    I think it’s best to assume a degree of toxicity with any paints and take care.


    I assume ALL paints are toxic also… Because I don’t have kids around I am not concerned but if I had kids then I would really research components of the paints.

    I also keep my dirty paint water in tall spice bottles so no cat tongues can get to them (just in case they don’t mind and stay off my studio desk!)

    spice bottles water

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