Prussian blue is a deep and mysterious blue paint that creates the most magnificent foliage greenery. I love its tonal ranges from a very dilute pale cool greeny blue to the full mass tone of near midnight blue black.
This blue paint was created by accident around 1706 by a chemist in Berlin by the name of Diesbach. Strangely, Diesbach was actually trying to create a red color.
But some of his ingredients were contaminated and voila! The happy accident of “Berlin Blue” also now known as Prussian Blue, occurred.
I like his spirit…. turning those pesky accidents into assets!
Prussian Blue has been called many names, Berlin blue, Antwerp, Parisian blue are just some of them.
However, you know that it is really Prussian Blue if the tube label describes it Prussian Blue Pb27.
I discovered long ago, that I actually owned about 5 tubes of the same colour! Paint manufacturers (Winsor and Newton, Daniel Smith, Art Spectrum, Holbein, Maimeri, American Journey, and a host of other brands) can name their paints what they please. So, so it can be confusing to a new beginner!
Prussian Blue has been used for medical purposes oddly enough. And it was the traditional blue used for creating “blueprints” as well.
In ancient times the Egyptians used blue dye made from copper.
Later in history the Europeans started using the plant Woad, to create blue dyes. Then, merchants began importing Indigo from the Americas.
The problem was that the “good” Blue – Lapis Lazulis – had become very difficult to get. It was extremely expensive, so there was a desire to find cheaper ways to create blue dyes and paints.
Staining Pigment Prussian Pb27
It is a Stainer, it leaves a stain.
It will not lift off the paper 100% as will the Transparents. But, it does lift to about 50 – 80% which is usually adequate.
Prussian Blue pb 27 is non opaque. Its see through.
These 2 traits make it fantastic for glazing, for luminosity, and clarity. It does not make mud when mixing.
The fact that it is a Stainer, also means it makes a great addition to a “pouring” painting, it will run and spread beautifully, to create fantastic organic flowing patterns and textures.
When Prussian Blue is applied adjoining an opaque, say Naples Yellow and then allowed to …creep up and into the yellow… you can get some wonderful effects.
I find Prussian Blue equally good in oils, watercolour, soft pastels.
In Acrylics, Prussian blue is just a little under done for my tastes. Not quite the oomph of oils nor watercolours. But, that’s just my opinion. I still use Prussian in acrylics, its just that they don’t perform at a 10 level. Maybe 8.5 or so.
Prussian Blue Green Foliage Mixes:
- mix with Quinacridone Gold
- mix with Nickel Azo Yellow
- mix with Winsor Lemon
- mix with Burnt Sienna
- mix with Raw Umber !
- mix with Yellow Ochre
- mix with Naples Yellow
- mix with Raw Sienna
- mix with Viridian
- mix with Perylene Green
Prussian blue other mixing recipes:
- mix with Permanent Alizarin Crimson = purple with a hint of grey to it, slightly desaturated
- mix with Cerulean blue = pretty blue that will granulate in watercolours
- mix with white = soft powder blue – through to a slate grey-blue
- mix with Ultramarine = ocean deep blue
- mix with Lunar Black in watercolours = deep blue – black that granulates into intricate and fascinating textures
My primary objectives for choosing Prussian Blue when I’m selecting my colours
#1 to create and mix a great range of foliage greens
#2 to create some intense darks
#3 to help create textures,runs and patterns within the wet paint areas
Prussian Blue has lovely possibilities – traditional landscapes, to abstracts, pouring paintings, to botanical art. It is a colour that does very well in pretty much all the mediums, proving the rich intensity of tone that is its hallmark.
Prussian Blue is one of my Core group of 7 paints, in all my mediums I use. I really enjoy its complexities and tones.
Don’t be afraid of the Stainers!
Start exploring and creating your own greens experiments to see what it can do for you.
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