raw sienna or raw umber, which would you choose?

This post has 4 Replies | 5 Followers
Not Ranked
Posts 7
Points 140
mariettetb wrote
on 10 Jul 2010 4:44 PM

Dear all, I bring my humble question:

What is the difference between these two paints?  I can see that raw umber is 'browner' than raw sienna, raw sienna a touch warmer, but if one had a limited palette or limited space, which would you choose and why?  (Ochre only adds to the confusion....)

P.S., I primarily use watercolors, so oil paints/acrylics may have different considerations.

Thank You!

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 200 Contributor
Posts 247
Points 5,555
Trusted Users
on 10 Jul 2010 5:24 PM

The major difference is that Raw Sienna is transparent while Raw Umber is opaque.  So a glazing effect can be achieved with raw sienna which is not so easy with raw umber.

I alo find raw sienna to be significantly warmer. 

I am an oil painter so please take that into consideration, however as far as I know the transparency, or lack of, is the same for these colors both mediums.

I hope this helps.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 100 Contributor
Posts 585
Points 7,105
KatPaints wrote
on 10 Jul 2010 8:20 PM

Hmm, It depends on what  other colors are in your limited palette. It also depends on what your painting. Neither are my favorite and I usually have neither.


  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 7
Points 140
mariettetb wrote
on 12 Jul 2010 10:36 AM

Thank you -  That's exactly the type of answer I was looking for!!  Very helpful  On another note, my books show raw umber to be significantly darker than I find it in real life, so I got confused.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 412
Points 6,265
on 12 Jul 2010 12:15 PM

Hello mariettetb  

Although Helen Van Wyk was an oil painter, her books offer information, I think, that can be helpful to most painters.  What she had to say about Raw Umber in her book "Helen Van Wyk's Favorite Color Recipes" is:  "A dark dull color that can be classified as a yellow.  Usually thought of as brown.  Mistakenly used as a shadowing agent, and becomes the villain of many muddy pictures.  Should only be used to represent things that are described as brown.  Extremely transparent.  Has a greenish hue.  In admixture, not as strong as the more substantial Burnt Umber."  

Raw Sienna:  " A darker, more orange version of Yellow Ocher.  Very transparent.   Can omit from a very basic palette since it can be somewhat matched by mixing Cadmium Yellow Light and Burnt Umber.  To get the full volume and beauty of the colours in nature Raw Sienna can be a great friend."

Working with Acrylics I find burnt umber a necessary colour  (works nicely with blue for a black colour),  and I also like raw sienna a lot.  I also have Burnt Sienna which I use a lot, and find her suggestion for mixing the cadmium yellow light and burnt sienna to get a colour similar to raw sienna quite interesting.  I do have Raw Umber, and have used it sparingly.

On Golden's site it made a brief mention of Raw Umber as having a granular effect in watercolour.

  • | Post Points: 5
Page 1 of 1 (5 items) | RSS