Creating Rose Madder (watercolor)

Rose Madder is a traditional watercolor that is fugitive. That is it is not permanent but fades with time especially when exposed to sunlight. You can google what it’s made of and why it fades.

I’m new to watercolors and have read how many watercolorists are loathe to give it up even though it is so unstable.

So I looked into mixing the color just like I’ve mixed Undersea Green or Cascade Green. (I work with Daniel Smith watercolors just so you know.)

I bought a sample of Madder Lake Dark and Rose Madder from Schminke to see exactly what the color looked like.

While it is close to many of the replacement colors offered such as Quinacridone Rose, many of them lack some of the properties that artists love about the madder colors, I.E. transparent and easy to lift.

So I looked into mixing it myself keeping these properties in mind.

One formula I found was Pyrrol Orange and Quinacridone Rose. Totally unacceptable.

Daniel Smith has a new line of mineral pigments called Primatek. There are two that looked like they would mix into a madder substitute: Rhodonite Genuine and Monte Amiata Natural Sienna. They are both transparent and low staining. While Rhodonite doesn’t granulate Monte Amiata does just enough to simulate the Rose Madder sample I made. The Monte Amiata tones down the Rhodonite just enough to simulate the Rose Madder.

I’m pleased with the result.

If you’d like to give it a try it is one part Monte Amiata Natural Sienna to 5-6 parts Rhodonite Genuine. Be sure to mix well.

Add enough water and it’s nicely transparent. All of the Primateks lift pretty well but there is some minor staining. I’ll know in a few days how well the color rewets as I have mixed it in a half pan. If it rewets well and the color behaves as I think it will, I think I will add “Mary’s Rose Madder” to my palette.



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