Wednesday, June 25, 2008

DaVinci Lapis Lazuli

This week I picked up a tube of DaVinci's Lapis Lazuli Genuine. Lapis has traditionally been just about the most expensive pigment because it's, well, ground-up semi-precious gemstone. To boot, 400 years ago it had to be imported to Europe from what is now Afghanistan. It was eventually more or less entirely replaced by a synthetic ultramarine pigment.

Anyway, I noticed that DaVinci was offering a tube of the real thing, and for only about $15. At that price, I suspected it would not be a particularly brilliant or pure color, and that turns out to be the case; it is a little on the muddy side as you can see in the above tint mixture. In all fairness, it's not quite as dirty as the picture would suggest.

That said, I will be keeping it on my palette. It's fairly weak in mixtures compared to all the other blues I use, and this is actually a good thing. Most modern pigments are strong stainers - the phthalos, for instance, are basically nuclear-powered juggernauts, easily overwhelming just about any paint they're combined with. Therefore I'm always happy to find pigments which only impart the suggestion of their hue in mixtures. Rembrandt's ultramarine green is also very useful from that perspective. Oddly, they seem to be the only manufacturer that offers that particular pigment, at least in oil.

I got the tube from Cheap Joes.

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