Mixing Violets in watercolor

Publié le par Désiré Herman

Violet Mixes

What I do propose to you to find in this article ...

• Red and blue to get it
• How do primary and secondary react with Violet pigments

There are a dozen or so violet pigments that are regularly used to create watercolor paints called Purple, Violet, Mauve, Lavender etc ... But if you want to limit your palette, often you do not add this color.

Indeed it is quite easy to get from a warm blue with a cold red. (Example an Ultramarine blue PB29 with a red Crimson type of Alizarin).

On the other hand, in this list of purple pigments are the PV19 and PV 42, which are close to the Magenta. Yet the PR122 is often referred to as Magenta but there are many subtle differences. Mixing PV19 or PV42 with a neutral or warm yellow gives red ... varying from Crimson or Madder to Scarlet.
Therefore a choice of one of these 3 pigments is needed to find a real primary ... the red Magenta!

The dark violet is an ally for creating very dark neutrals, even more than a mixture of PBr7 (Sienna Brulee) with Ultramarine Blue (PB29).

We'll see later when I publish the article on black & grey pigments.

And to conclude I invite you to discover the mixture of Pérylene Violet or Red with Pérylene Green they produce beautiful neutrals and semi-transparent black, vibrating and not dull at all !

Now we come back to mixes of reds with blues to make a mixture that produces purple. I made you a color chart composed of 5 cold blues and 3 warm blues and 2 hot reds, 3 reds almost neutral and 2 cold reds. To make all the color charts, I mainly chose watercolors from Winsor & Newton (Extra-Fine), because until now, I have not often put them in the spotlight. This brand, of English name but manufactured in France, is the most present brand in the specialized shops and thus used by many amateurs and professional watercolor painters.

The colors selected are:

For the Reds:
• Quinacridone Magenta PR122 Winsor & Newton Cold Red
• Alizarin Permanent Crimson PR206 Winsor & Newton Cold Red
• Quinacridone Red PR207 Warm Red Red from Schmincke (Horadam)
• Quinacridone Red PR209 Winsor & Newton Neutral Red
• Winsor & Newton Red Winsor Red PR254
• Winsor & Newton Red Winsor Deep Red PR264
• Red Hot (Schmincke) Red Osnabar Red PO64 (Horadam)

For the Blues:
• Turquoise Phthalo PB16 blue cold Winsor & Newton
• Manganese blue PB15 (this is not a real manganese pigment which is the PB33) Winsor & Newton's cold blue
• Phtalo blue shade PB15: 3 cold blue by Sennelier (The Extra Fine Watercolor)
• Blue Phtalo shade red PB15: 6 warm blue by Sennelier (The extra fine watercolor)
• Antwerp Blue PB27 cold blue from Winsor & Newton
• Ultramarine Blue PB29 warm blue from Winsor & Newton
• Ceruleum Blue PB35 Winsor & Newton cold blue
• Indanthrene Blue PB60 warm blue from Winsor & Newton

If you want more details about blues and reds to check out my samples and analyzes using the links below. Open them in a new tab so you can easily return to this article.

The link for the blues

The link for the reds

The link for all different violet pigment based watercolor paints is here

My Analyses

The spectrum of violet is wide and is between a bluish red and a reddish blue. It can be seen that blends with cold blues are more toned down or muted than those with warm blues.

The most vibrant violets are obtained by mixing ultramarine blue with quinacridone red or Quinacridone magenta. Some mixtures are very close to the results obtained with violet single-pigmented paints. But we see that apart from real purple, purple carmine etc ... we get a wide variation of muted reds also called earth colors and in addition, we also get colored greys!

Given the wide availability of blue and red pigments, I had to make a choice. I hope I chose the most extreme colors and intermediates to have a good overview of the possibilities.

We also note that mixes, made with blue and red that are furthest away on the color wheel, which are a cold blue with a warm red, are duller or even completely muted. Another aspect is that we obtain variants, impossible to find in the commercial ranges.

• The ultramarine blue produces very interesting granulations with almost all the reds.
• Cerulean Blue produces granulation separations showing small dots of blue and shows a color separation in the mixture.
• Apart from Magenta Quinacridone and Ultramarine blue, all the other mixes are able to create colored greys and some neutrals ...

Let's see it in detail on the color chart below. But before one more detail. I made 4 different mixes with each of the reds and blues. In the upper left is the red with a little blue, on the left below I add a little more blue to the mix, then I continue to add more and more blue first at the top right and the densest in blue at the bottom right.


Mixing Violets with Blue and Red mono-pigment watercolor paints

Mixing Violets with Blue and Red mono-pigment watercolor paints

Mixtures with Violet pigments

Here I opted for a choice of 8 purple pigments (the most common ones ; 4 from Winsor & Newton, 2 from Isaro and 2 from Schmincke) with the 3 primaries (each in warm and cold version) as well as the 2 other secondaries also in cold and warm version.

As for the previous color chart, I tried to use the brand Winsor & Newton extra-fine for the most part, but as I'm limited (I have about thirty different Winsor & Newton tubes), I added colorsfrom  Schmincke Horadam (Saturn Red (PO64) and Quinacridone Light Red (PR207)), Isaro's Phtalo Green (PG7) and Sennelier Green (PG36).

Often my readers ask me how to know that the hue is warm or cold. It is the color wheel that defines it. It is not complex, but I think it would be better to write an article with images in support than to try to treat it in a few lines ... It is promised, I prepare you this article and it will soon be in line. Let's go back to our mixes with purple paints.

 To explain how I proceed to make the features of mixtures. I add for the first a touch of purple to the chosen color. Then I continue to add purple to the mix by painting a line with each addition. I move from the top left down to the right bottom.

Mixes with PY129 Green Gold

Mixing violets with PY129 Green Gold
Mixing violets with PY129 Green Gold

• Ultramarine Violet (PV15): from an Olive green the mix evolves towards a dark green trend neutral
• Permanent Mauve (PV16): from a Natural Shade color the mix evolves towards a reddish brown
• Magenta (PV19 ): from red ocher of gold, we move towards terra cotta tones to finish with a deep red
• Mauve Isaro (PV19): evolution from green shaded ocher to a dull brown.
• Winsor Violet (PV23): from olive-green to dull grey like Burnt Umber
• Pyrenean Violet (PV29): yellowish brown to dull brown
• Magenta (PV42): from a dull brown to muted oranges terra cotta style
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): we obtain the same evolution as with PV29 but clearer mixes

Mixes with PY150 Transparent Yellow

Mixing violets with PY150 Transparent Yellow
Mixing violets with PY150 Transparent Yellow

• Ultramarine Violet (PV15): little difference with PY129 but we get almost a black
• Permanent Mauve (PV16): Mixes redder than with PY129
• Magenta (PV19): a nice panoply of oranges a little muted
• Mauve Isaro (PV19): evolution from very dull orange to a burgundy red little shiny
• Winsor Violet ( PV23): The PY140 is completely neutralized and black is obtained ...
• Perylene violet (PV29): variation of a warm ocher color to a warm brown is obtained
• Magenta (PV42): Mixes almost identical with the Magenta PV19 d'Isaro
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): pretty yellow to very dull brown

Mixes with PO64 Red Saturn

Mixing violets with PO64 Saturn Red
Mixing violets with PO64 Saturn Red

• Ultramarine Violet (PV15): evolves from an orange, passing through chestnuts to a dull purple and granulating
• Permanent Mauve(PV16): from an orange, we go through chestnuts to reach cold reds
• Magenta (PV19): bright oranges turning to vibrant scarlet
• Isaro Mauve (PV19): The purple produces the same range as the Magenta PV19 but more sustained and darker.
• Winsor Violet (PV23): a muted orange, then very dark chestnuts finally dark reddish browns.
• Violet of Pérylène (PV29): starting from a terra cotta tone we turn to purplish browns
• Magenta (PV42): passing from a vibrating orange passing by a little muted scarlet one manages to create neutral and slightly bluish neutrals.
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): From a burnt Sienna we move to darker reds to reach dominant purple reds.

Mixes with PO107 Transparent Orange

Mixing violets with PO107 Transparent Orange
Mixing violets with PO107 Transparent Orange

 • Ultramarine Violet (PV15): From a tarnished orange we go through brown earth tones to obtain a neutral then a purplish neutral.
• Permanent Mallow (PV16): From a burnt Sienna we go through reddish chestnuts tone to finish with a brownish purple.
• Magenta (PV19): Little difference with PO64 mixes but slightly darker and turning pink
• Mauve Isaro (PV19): we pass from a tarnished orange and arrive very quickly to deep reds but muted ones.
 • Winsor Violet (PV23): from an orange earth one passes towards more neutral earths to arrive at true neutrals and almost black.
• Perylene Violet (PV29): more and more muted oranges until creating vibrant hot browns
• Magenta (PV42): a variety of oranges to reach hot reds then neutral almost cold.
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): From a very vibrating terra cotta, which varies more and more darkly, we obtain warm browns and then cold red near Alizarine Crimson or Garance Brown.

Mixes with PR207 Quinacridone light Red

Mixing violets with PR207 Quinacridone Light Red
Mixing violets with PR207 Quinacridone Light Red

• Ultramarine Violet (PV15): of a muted neutral red one proceeds to obtain purplish reds and then less and less dull violets
• Permanent Mauve (PV16): variation of a cold red to a reddish-purple
• Magenta (PV19): from a scarlet red one navigates to a pink
• Mauve Isaro (PV19): as for the previous PV19, but richer and darker
• Winsor Violet (PV23): Variation starting with an Alizarin red hue increasingly purplish then neutral to finish in dark purple
• Perylene Violet (PV29): From a muted red through purplish reds then becomes more and more neutral and finish with a brownish dark purple
• Magenta (PV42): Same result as Magenta PV19 but more saturated and slightly darker.
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): Red Crimson changes to less and less reddish purples

Mixes with PR206 Alizarin Permanent Crimson

Mixing violets with PR206 Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Mixing violets with PR206 Permanent Alizarin Crimson

• Ultramarine Violet (PV15): Cold red blue turns deeper and deeper and then we come to purple with the less and less reddish tendency.
• Permanent Mauve (PV16): Evolution like the previous one but clearer and more vibrant.
• Magenta (PV19): The variation is very low and stays in pinkish reds becoming denser before clearing again.
• Mauve Isaro (PV19): The same behavior as the previous purple but going darker very close to the Alizarin crimson or Madder red.
• Winsor Violet (PV23): from a purplish red one reaches an almost perfect neutral to finish with very dark purple with a bluish undertone.
• Perylene Violet (PV29): A slightly brownish red becoming increasingly reddish to finish with a bluish sub-tone.
• Magenta (PV42): Darker than the blend with the otherwise evolving PV19 Magenta
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): The true panoply of cold reds to warm (reddish) purples

Mixes with PB15 Manganese Blue

Mixing violets with PB15 Manganese Blue Hue
Mixing violets with PB15 Manganese Blue Hue

• Ultramarine Violet (PV15): from a neutral blue the variation is going by warmer blues of ultramarine violet to reach real violets but the colors are not very saturated.
• Permanent Violet (PV16): more tarnished and dense than with the PB15, one reaches a dull purple of red sub-tone but the transitions are done more quickly because the spectrum is wider.
• Magenta (PV19): From a cold blue, then neutral, we arrive at bluish purple to go through a red sub-tone to arrive at a crimson cold red.
• Mauve Isaro (PV19): Darker and denser than the Magenta PV19, you get more shades in the blue, then turns purplish deep blue to purple reds.
• Winsor Violet (PV23): A warm dark ultramarine blue then turns darker and warmer and becomes almost black.
• Perylene Violet (PV29): From a bluish grey (very subtle) the mixture becomes more and more neutral and dark to finally reach a brown Van Dijck.
• Magenta (PV42): We start here with a light warm blue that darkens and becomes more purplish to change to reddish-purple tones near a deep pink to become almost crimson red.
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): Same variation as Magenta PV19 but much more vibrant and saturated.

Mixes with PB29 Ultramarine Blue

Mixing violets with PB29 Ultramarine Blue
Mixing violets with PB29 Ultramarine Blue

• Ultramarine Violet (PV15): Little variation in this mixture with colors very close to each other, this mixture is very nuanced, ranging from a warm blue to bluish violets.
• Permanent Purple (PV16): This pigment has the same tendencies as the previous one with this difference that the colors are less vibrant and duller and also the spectrum is wider so we arrive at a dominant purple-red.
• Magenta (PV19): As with the PV15, saturated colors are obtained, but the spectrum is wider, passing through bluish and then reddish purple to become cold reds.
• Mauve Isaro (PV19): Almost the same behavior as with PV16  but granulation in less,  and just a little more muted or toned down.
• Winsor Violet (PV23): Here the colors are very close and the variation is close to zero except that they are very dark.
• Perylene Violet (PV29): Starting with a deep warm blue one goes through dark bluish violets reaching a nearly neutral muted tone to reach a warm Van Dijck brown. •
Magenta (PV42): As for many other mixtures the PV42 behaves like the PV19 but the result has more vibrancy and saturation.
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): This mix is quite special because it goes directly from a deep warm blue to a dark bluish violet a little dull without really getting to a reddish purple.

Mixes with the PG7 Phtalo Green

Mixes of Violet Watercolors with PG7 Pthtalo Green
Mixes of Violet Watercolors with PG7 Pthtalo Green

• Ultramarine Violet (PV15): varying from a dull green to a muted turquoise one gets very dull blues before it arrives at a very muted violet
• Permanent Purple (PV16): a dark green a little artificial we go through muted neutrals first with a bluish subtone then turns purplish reddish.
• Magenta (PV19): evolution of green more and more neutral before becoming grey to go through a dull purple with a reddish sub-tone to reach a cold dark red.
• Mauve Isaro (PV19): Same evolution as the previous PV19 with this difference of a more dense and dark result.
• Winsor Violet (PV23): from a greenish neutral we go through very dark bluish neutral then turns to a muted purple.
• Perylene Violet (PV29): From a bluish green one mute more and more this green before arriving at a beautiful neutral dark which is little by little becoming brownish.
• Magenta (PV42): Beautiful variation of green passing through a bluish neutral then reddish to arrive at a muted rose.
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): A variation of green tones becoming deeper to show a bluish sub-tone without reaching blue. Becomes a very broken reddish purple showing more and more reddish.

Mixes with PG36 Vert Sennelier

Mixes of Violet Watercolors with PG36 Sennelier Green
Mixes of Violet Watercolors with PG36 Sennelier Green

• Ultramarine Violet (PV15): from a Hookers green fading to deep sap green one gets a greenish gray then a bluish one.
• Permanent Mauve (PV16): Here the green gets deeper and deeper to arrive at a fairly neutral gray becoming reddish.
• Magenta (PV19): first a dull green one goes through neutrals becoming more and more red to reach a broken pink.
• Isaro Mallow (PV19): The green gets neutralized more and more and reaches a gray that becomes redder or a reddish purple broken.
• Winsor Violet (PV23): from a Hookers green we arrive at very greenish blues then a bluish neutral to reach a very dark blue quite neutral.
• Perylene Violet (PV29): From a very natural dark green this mix reaches dark neutrals to turn to a  dark neutral brown and achieve a Brun Van Dijck style hue.
• Magenta (PV42): Same evolution as the PV19 Magenta but the mixes are darker and denser and the neutrals are much more accentuated
• Quinacridone Violet (PV55): Variation dark green (little evolution for the first 4 steps) to a very dark green almost neutral, then turns to a dark neutral variating to a bluish neutral,becoming a tarnished violet.

All the mixes together

Color Chart Mixing Primary and secondary watercolors with violet pigmented watercolor paints
Color Chart Mixing Primary and secondary watercolors with violet pigmented watercolor paints


 As with all secondary colors, we know that they can be obtained by mixing two primary colors.

Is it necessary to have one or more in its palette ? As with any palette setup, one must ask what to paint with. Of course it's not easy for beginners even intermediate watercolorists, but it's the subject and the personal approach that defines whether or not we will include a color in its palette.

But for whom are the purples intended?

First for botanical painters, because having a reddish purple and a bluish is a good mix base to get stable mixes and easy to recreate. Portrait painters also often use a purple hue for dark flesh tones and to emphasize shadows.

But for other subjects, apart from personal artistic expression, knowing how to mix a purple can be enough to gain space in his palette.

Yet in watercolor, it is not only about color but also behavior like the important granulation that adds texture. And there are two very interesting violets PV15 & PV 16. Each allows creating a lot of nuances with a result more or less granulating.

But "Last but not least"  there is the Perylene violet. A rather dull purple close to brown. This purple is very interesting by using it as a red ... It produces neutral, muted tones and subtle grays with a lot of other colors (very natural chestnuts with a tone very similar to the original red or brown madder but more resistant to light). Mixed with Perylene Green PBk31 we obtain bright grays and blacks, ideal to create depth in a watercolor.

As you can see, the choices of colors that make up your palette are very personal and help define one's own style. I present this study to enable you to make your choice by proposing this basic guide.

The only advice I can give you, use my research as a red thread and adapt them to your preferences and test ... test.

On the other hand, as I mentioned in the article on purple pigments used in watercolor paints, I am completely independent and I am not sponsored by manufacturers or chains or shops.

If you have questions, proposals or remarks do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail, I will do my best to bring my experiences and observations and to answer you.

And now I’ll start testing and writing the articles for the last of the secondaries « The Greens ».

Publié dans English, color chart

Commenter cet article

Laura Brito 29/12/2019 17:31

Hi, I love your info! It is so helpful to me. Can I share your article with others that I am trying to help learn about pigments? I find this so useful!

Désiré Herman 31/12/2019 11:15

Dear Laura,

I do appreciate your comment and the fact I can help you developping your watercolor skills.
I do allow my readers to use for personnal use. All these articles will be the base of a future book so With explicit agreement, I do not allow publishing of my articles or a part of it as I'm a registered author.
But you're allowed to print out, including my copyright information, and share it with your friends in workshops, meetings a.s.o.

Please know that I'm not sponsered, so all the swatches, tests and use and commenting of every art supply is done using products I bought myself. This blog does cost me a lot of work, time and money.
My only goal is to share my knowledge with all people interested in watercolor and this without asking money for it. So if this can help you I reached my goal.

Thank you and Happy New Year

Ava Jarvis 12/09/2019 17:25

Have recently been reading your blog, finding these color/pigment analyses wonderful.

When I discuss colors I refer to the color wheel rather than cold/warm. A "red-leaning blue" versus "warm blue", for instance.

I tend to use a colorist palette no matter what medium I work in, rather than dual primary palettes: saturated single pigment primaries and secondaries. It gives me a lot of leeway in biasing my work in any color direction, and makes it very easy to mix neutrals. For watercolors I also add a deep red brown (PBr25) and Perylene Green, which is invaluable.