Pigment 🟤

Lightfast Pigments

Natural coloring matter of highest lightfastness - permanent substances used for art painting - pigments in form of a dry powder mixed with binder that constitutes a paint or ink. I usually use pigments as paints: dispersed in natural gum or polymer.

Pigments are colored or achromatic organic or inorganic solids. They are usually insoluble chemically stable and retain a crystal or particulate structure.

Inorganic and Organic Pigments


Inorganic pigments have excellent light and heat resistance and weatherability. Inorganic pigments include titanium dioxide, carbon, iron and chromium oxides, mixed metal oxides, manganese oxide, cadmiums, lead chromate,  ultramarines, iron blue, chrome green, etc.

I use these single-pigment paints based on inorganic pigments, from more often to less, grouped by main chemical element:

  1. Iron oxide pigments: sanguine, venetian red, red oxide, raw and burnt sienna, raw and burnt umber, yellow ochre, prussian blue, black iron oxide.
  2. Carbon pigments: natural charcoal, graphite.
  3. Titanium pigments: titanium white.
  4. Sulfur pigments: french ultramarine, ultramarine green shade and violet.
  5. Cadmium pigments: cadmium yellow, deep red, scarlet.
  6. Cobalt pigments: cobalt violet, blue, cerulean, turquoise.
  7. Manganese pigments: manganese violet.
  8. Chromium pigments: viridian.
  9. Zinc pigments: zinc white.
  10. Lead pigments: naples yellow.


I do not use organic pigments with biological origins (like alizarin, gamboge, rose madder, indigo, etc.)

However, I use a few non-biological organic pigments (like quinacridones and phthalos).

Organic pigments have wider range of bright colors, and many have excellent light and solvent resistance. They are divided into two groups:

  1. Azo pigments includes monoazo yellow and orange, di-azo, azo lake, benzimidazolone, bis-azo, naphthols, metal complexes.
  2. Non-azo pigments, heterocyclic and fused ring, include phthalocyanine, quinacridone, perylene and perinone, thioindigo, anthraquinone, dioxazine, isoindolinone and isoindoline, pyrrole, triarylcarbonium, quinophthalone.

Color Index Code

By the color classification method, pigments are coded:

pigment yellow (PY), orange (PO), red (PR), violet (PV), green (PG), brown (PBr), black (PBk), white (PW), metal (PM).

Pigment Lightfastness

I use only permanent and very lightfast pigments, blue wool 7-8 or ASTM I.

Blue Wool and ASTM Standards

  • Blue wool (BW) lightfastness levels: from 8 (extremely lightfast) down to 1 (fugitive).
  • ASTM - American Society for Testing and Materials - lightfastness categories: from I (excellent) to V (poor).
  1. BW 7-8 = I. Excellent lightfastness, suitable for artistic use, will remain unchanged for more than 100 years of light exposure.
  2. BW 6      = II. Very good lightfastness, suitable for artistic use, unchanged for 50 to 100 years with proper display.
  3. BW 4-5 = III. Fair lightfastness, impermanent, unchanged for 15 to 50 years, last longer if used full strength or with extra protection from light.
  4. BW 2-3 =  IV. Poor lightfastness, fugitive, begins to fade in 2 to 15 years, even with proper mounting and display, not suitable for artistic use.
  5. BW 1       = V. Very poor lightfastness, fugitive, begins to fade in 2 years or less of light exposure, not suitable for artistic use.


  • Inorganic Synthetic 🟪

    Inorganic Synthetic Pigments

    Ultramarine was the most important addition to the standard earth palette, in my opinion.

    Impressionist Palette

    Impressionists added other inorganic minerals in addition to natural ones, lapis, and naples in classic palette:

    • red and yellow cadmiums and turquoise,
    • blue and violet cobalts,
    • green chromium oxide and viridian,
    • and manganese violet.


    New pigments with excellent lightfastness like mars black were synthesized in modern times.

    Notable Inorganic Pigments

    These pigments below are those I used in my artwork, due to their beauty and permanence:

    • Aluminum pigments:
      • Ultramarine violet (PV15),
      • Ultramarine blue or french (PB29): a synthetic or naturally occurring sulfur containing silicate mineral, Na8-10Al6Si6O24S2-4.
    • Cobalt pigments:
      • Cobalt violet: (PV14),
      • Cobalt blue (PB28),
      • Cerulean blue and turquose (PB35, PB36).
    • Manganese pigment:
      • Manganese violet: (PV16) manganic ammonium pyrophosphate[2], NH4MnP2O7.
    • Iron pigments:
      • Prussian blue (PB27): a synthetic inert pigment made of iron and cyanide, C18Fe7N18,
      • Mars black or iron black (PBk11): synthetic magnetite, Fe3O4.
    • Cadmium pigments:
      • Cadmium yellow (PY37): cadmium sulfide, CdS,  occurs as mineral greenockite,
      • Cadmium red (PR108): cadmium sulfo-selenide, Cd2SSe.
    • Chromium pigments:
      • Chrome green (PG17): anhydrous chromium(III) oxide, Cr2O3,
      • Viridian (PG18): hydrated chromium(III) oxide, Cr2O3•xH2O.
    • Copper pigment:
      • Malachite.
    • Lead pigment:
      • Naples yellow (PY41).
    • Titanium pigment:
      • Titanium white (PW6): titanium(IV) oxide, TiO2.
    • Zinc Pigment:
      • Zinc white (PW4): zinc oxide, ZnO.

    The most important to my palette synthesized inorganic pigments from those listed below I will describe separately under this label.

  • Mineral Earth 🟫

    Mineral Earth Pigments

    Permanent natural minerals do not fade or change.


    Inorganic black carbons and earth mineral iron oxides are permanent and were used since the beginning of art.

    I often use hematite, venetian and indian red, siennas an umbers, ochre, iron oxides, and sometimes goethite and caput mortuum.


    Some permanent iron oxides were used in the classical palette, with added also inorganic naples and ultramarine:

    • venetian and indian red,
    • orange and yellow raw and burnt sienna,
    • yellow ochre,
    • brown raw and burnt umber,
    • naples yellow,
    • ultramarine blue and violet (lapis).
  • Organic 🟣

    Organic Pigments

    Organic insoluble organic compounds of high coloring strength are made in high-tech laboratories.

    I usually avoid common lake and phthalocyanine pigments. I love the intensity of Azo-pigments, and also used in small amounts:

    • magenta and red Quinacridones (I call them "quins" and use often the most lightfast versions) and  Perylenes,
    • yellow Hansas (I use sometimes in acrylic),
    • blue Indanthrones (I used in one series) and Phthalos (blues I reserve for some acrylics, and I phased out of greens).