In this Pigment Stories series, I have looked at two of the three most significant pigment discoveries of the 20th Century – Phthalocyanine and Azo pigments. The third is the Quinacridone family of pigments.
The first Quinacridone compound was discovered in 1896, but its suitability as a pigment wasn’t recognised until 1955. A commercially viable industrial process for synthesising Quinacridone pigment was developed, and in 1958 it was introduced to the market.
Strong in colour and transparent, Quinacridone pigments are extremely stable with good resistance to light, heat, and solvents. This makes them ideal colourants in the production of cosmetics, cars, and plastics, and they also provide a spectrum of violet, magenta, and red pigments for artists working in a variety of mediums. Quinacridone colours were quickly adopted by artists of the abstract expressionist movement, who loved their intensity of colour.
Quinacridone pigments range between purple and orange, but are most commonly pink-red pigments. The hue is determined by the pigment particle size, as well as small differences in the crystalline structure of Quinacridone pigment molecules. For example, a latticed structure produces a pink-red colour, and a more linear structure makes a colour that leans more towards orange.
In the following swatches and colour mixing charts I have used watercolour (the largest variety of Quinacridone pigments are found in watercolour ranges), but most are also available in oil, acrylic, gouache, and ink ranges. I have introduced each pigment with its generic name (i.e. Quinacridone Rose), but the names of the paints that contain each pigment vary. You can click on any image to see it larger and in more detail.
Quinacridone Magenta (PR122 or PR202)
Quinacridone Magenta is a commonly found pigment in artist paints, it is a vibrant and deep pink that almost falls into purple. PR122 is the most frequently used Quinacridone Magenta pigment, but occasionally PR202 is used.
While PR122 and PR202 look very similar when wet, when they are dry to seems that PR122 is a slightly cleaner colour, better for the most vibrant mixtures (it’s worth noting that some Quinacridone pigments have a significant wet-to-dry colour shift, particularly in watercolour):
Quinacridone Magenta is a very floral colour, popular with botanical artists. Because of its purple bias, it is easily nudged to make deep violet by Ultramarine Blue (PB29). With Yellow Ochre (PY42) and Burnt Sienna (Pbr7) it makes deep red and orange respectively, which become peachy when mixed with white. When mixed in equal parts with Phthalo Green (PG7) it makes a deep chromatic black.
Most oil, acrylic, watercolour, gouache, and ink ranges carry PR122 – often under the name Quinacridone Magenta, Magenta, or Permanent Magenta.
Quinacridone Rose/ Quinacridone Violet (PV19)
Another commonly found pigment, PV19 can range between a smoky violet and a bright rose. The rose-shade is less purple than Quinacridone Magenta, but still leans towards blue. The violet-shade is a reddish-purple.
Schmincke’s Quinacridone Violet makes some dark blues and purples when mixed with Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, and Viridian, and earthy tones with Green Gold and Yellow Ochre.
The overall feeling of the above palette is much more stormy than with Jackson’s Carmine, which was mixed with the same colours:
The rose-shade of PV19 makes a lightfast alternative to Genuine Rose Madder, a fugitive historical pigment. In fact, PV19 paints are often called Permanent Rose.
Quinacridone Maroon (PR206)
An earthy, red-brown pigment that couldn’t be more different to the jewel-like vibrancy of Quinacridone Magenta. Quinacridone Maroon is known by many names, including Brown Madder, Quinacridone Burnt Sienna, and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. Alizarin Crimson is a useful pigment in portrait painting, providing a red base that can be used to build flesh tones. Quinacridone Maroon also lends itself to portraiture, as this palette shows, though it is considerably less red than genuine Alizarin Crimson:
Quinacridone Red (PR207 or PR209)
These Quinacridone Red pigments are so bright that we had a hard time capturing them accurately in a photograph. Both PR207 and PR209 are fresh and almost fluorescent. PR207 is the more orange of the two, while PR209 still has a hint of pink.
What Happened to Quinacridone Gold (PO49)?
Single pigment Quinacridone Gold was a popular artist pigment, it was deep orange in masstone, but produced glowing yellow-gold glazes when diluted. The supply of raw pigment used in artist paints is subject to changes in other industries. When genuine Quinacridone Gold (PO49) was dropped by car manufacturers in 2001, the pigment could no longer be produced for artists. Daniel Smith brought up the remaining Quinacridone Gold pigment, and by 2005 they were the only manufacturer to offer the genuine, single pigment colour. Their last batch of Quinacridone Gold paints was sold in 2018, and now they use a mixture of PY150 and PO48 to make a Quinacridone Gold hue.
Quinacridone pigments available in limited ranges:
Quinacridone Pink (PV42)
Langridge oil paint also offer PV42, but it is a more violet shade.
Quinacridone Purple (PV55)
A wine-dark purple, similar to Dioxaxine Violet. Available in Schmincke Horadam watercolour, Rembrandt watercolour, St Petersburg White Nights watercolour, Winsor and Newton Professional watercolour, and Daniel Smith watercolour.
I have to admit that when I started writing this post I had always avoided Quinacridone pigments. Because of their reputed high chroma and tinting strength, I assumed that they would be overwhelming and bright – at odds with the muted colour palettes I like to use. But in writing this post and trying them out in mixtures, I found that they are full of subtlety and nuance – I will be rethinking my pigment choices! We’d love to know how you use Quinacridone pigments, let us know by leaving a comment.
Product ranges used for this article:
- Jackson’s Artist Watercolour
- Schmincke Horadam Watercolour
- Daniel Smith Finest Watercolour
- Winsor and Newton Profesional Watercolour