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Dioxazine purple. Dive into the organic pigment scientifically known as PV23RS – with the V standing for violet and the RS for red shade. Highly transparent. Ultra-vivid. Cool in hue. Powerful. This mid-shade purple is one of the bluest shades of violet you can have on your palette. Coming after indigo in Sir Isaac Newton’s color spectrum, violet sits on the edge of the visible rainbow.
Let’s look at its backstory. After William Henry Perkins made the world’s first synthetic pigment in 1856 - a purple he called mauvine - there was a surge in demand for similar colors. 18 years later, a new compound derived from coal tar was discovered by Carl Graebe and Carl Glaser. This was carbozole. In 1928, researchers at the German Hoechst company used it to synthesise and patent a new purple pigment. Dioxazine purple was born.
Where's it used?
The color was used mainly in the cotton dyeing process until the end of World War II. Specialized reactive dyes - which work better on cellulose fibers - then took over, and the patent owners were forced to look for a new market. Labelled Permanent Violett RL in 1952, the pigment found its modern context as a paint and print color. Its resilience and ability to produce unique colors have cemented its ongoing popularity in all sorts of commercial and art settings.
As a high-performance polycyclic pigment, PV23 can be relied on for its robustness, and good light and weather fastness. Resistant to solvents, waxes, water, alkalis and acids. Stable in a wide range of heats. It also offers high coloring power with ultra-versatile subtleties and facets. No wonder it’s so widely used in car paints.
Dioxazine purple in the art world
The violet purple family of colors has been used through recent art history and was particularly loved by the Impressionists. Manet, Monet and Pissarro painted their shadows in color, using tones of violet instead of black and grey. Violet became a big part of their work and the word ‘violettomania’ was coined, with Monet declaring: “I have finally discovered the true colour of the atmosphere. It is violet. Fresh air is violet.” The 'Mother of American Modernism' Georgia O’Keeffe was also a fan and used it to create rich, velvety texture in botanical paintings such as Purple Petunias in 1924.
How to use dioxazine purple in your art practice
With an almost black mass tone, dioxazine purple can be used as a deep black when undiluted. Dilute and it will offer up an incredible range of sheer vibrant violets. Add titanium white for bold, opaque violet tints. It’s also great for mixing. When you want transparency and nuance, this is the pigment to rely on. Try mixing it into other straight pigment colors to get visually interesting, deep results that support a painting in the dark passages.
Yellows, oranges, reds and violets respond well to its red characteristics; blues and greens respond well to its blue aspects. Want a reddish purple? Mix with quinacridone magenta and rose. Looking to achieve more of a blueish purple? Mix with ultramarine and phthalocyanine blues. You can also create more subtle blues with phthalocyanine green. After a neutral grey? Try mixing dioxazine purple with a sap green. You can also use dioxazine purple to darken other colors - often as a cleaner alternative to black. It’s a winner for flowers and botanical work and gives the full range of blossom pinks to the most vibrant petal purples. Begin with a small amount on your brush, because this color goes a long way and has great staining power. Play around with mixes and see where it takes you.
Find dioxazine purple in Liquitex Professional Heavy Body, Soft Body, Acrylic Gouache, Acrylic Ink, Acrylic Marker, Spray Paint and Liquitex Basics. Try it and share with us on Facebook and Instagram for a chance to be featured.