Over the last several years the lightfastness of alizarin crimson has come into question. Some have reported that the original versions of alizarin crimson can gradually turn brown and loose their red/purple color? Does anybody have solid information on this and if so, why are major paint manufacturers still offering alizarin crimson and alizarin crimson permanent? I have 3, 20 yr old tubes of AC hanging around and it kills me to not use it or trash them.
Thanks for any info.
Since I wasn't getting any reply's on this I did some research with paint companies and here's a response I got. (thank you Utrecht)
Jay,Alizarin Crimson is the synthetic version of one component of the traditional vegetable-derived color Madder. (The other, more fugitive component, Purpurin, gives madder a unique hue that is distinctly different from Alizarin.) While Alizarin is still considered by our industry permanent to the standards of durable, professional painting, it is the least lightfast color still in the modern palette. How quickly it may fade would depend on how it is used on the palette and how the resulting artwork is displayed and cared for. Mixing fugitive colors directly with white to produce tints will speed up fading compared to using it full strength or in glazing over mid-tones and darks. Paintings displayed in full sun or under unshielded halogen lamps can fade more quickly than if they are protected from harsh UV light.Permanent Alizarin Crimson is not directly related to Madder. It's a different proprietary formula depending on the manufacturer, but most use a quinacridone or other synthetic organic pigment to simulate the appearance of the traditional color. With some adjustment it's an excellent replacement for artists who are most concerned with permanence. The art materials industry has gone to a lot of effort to make consumers aware of issues of permanence so today it's possible for artists to decide for themselves which option to select, based on individual skill, pictorial objectives and aversion to risk of fading.Paint manufacturers still offer genuine Alizarin Crimson because there is great demand among artists for this unique color that's present on so many historical works of art. Despite being relatively less permanent than other colors, we feel with good craftsmanship on the part of the artist and proper care on the part of collectors, Alizarin Crimson still deserves its place in the modern painter's kit. Thanks for your question!Matthew KinseyUtrecht Art Supplies"Ask the Experts" representative
Thanks Jay for posting this response. I did not know the difference and found this very informative. I did not know about the permanence issue and how mixing with white affects its permanence.
Thanks, Jay, this is helpful.
Thanks Jay for posting the Utrecht response.
Will you be using your alizarin tubes of paint? Did this satisfy your interest in the pigment?
It seems like the rumors of alizarin loosing color could be rare and from paintings that were in the sun - who knows. i think Utrecht said it well when they said that it falls well into the acceptability range of all pigments although it may be one of the least light fast. For my painting, alizarin is usually mixed in with green or to cool down a red and I will continue with it and would also like to try a tube of the "permanent alizarin". You also have to look at it this way; they wouldn't come up with an alizarin permanent if nobody ever complained about the original. Alizarin also makes a beautiful deep dark green when mixed with viridian.
You may be thinking of comments made by Michael Wilcox in his book The Wilcox Guide to the Best Watercolor Paints (2001 - 2 Edition) p 122, where Michael Wilcox discusses Alizarin Crimson.
Margo Schwirian Fine Art
Hi Jay...Wow...over four years later and this topic is still relevant. Thank you so much for pushing to do the research so that many of us could benefit from what you discovered. I used the AC pigment daily and had heard about it's fugitive properties but never heard such a sensible explanation as the one you received. Like you, I use it for creating colors...greens and blacks. I also use permanent AC and I found it tends to be a tad more rogue when blended with whites and naples yellow (brighter blend). I will surely share this with many other artists I know. Bravo!
Yes, over 4 years and genuine (original) Alizarin Crimson is still one of the most beautiful colors ever for me.
Jay...I looked at your paintings online...your greens are fabulous! Have you tried the Permanent AC? I am curious, if you have, how it has affected your colors.