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Old 22-01-12, 07:29 AM
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mona mona is offline
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Default working with lapis lazuli

Has anyone on the Forum had any experience working with lapis lazuli? I bought a small quantity from a fellow miniature painter, and the source is De Mairo (demairo.com). Partly I am wondering, how does one judge the quality of this pigment? Has anyone tried De Mairo? If not, what was your source for buying it, and what did you think?

Looking forward to trying it out this week!

Mona
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Old 24-01-12, 12:28 AM
gainor gainor is offline
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Default Lapis

Hi Mona,
I bought a very small quantity of Lapis from a company selling pigment from the Andes mountains. I spent $80 on a very small quantity and when it arrived it was not blue but a greyish ick. I tried to use it and it was gritty and would not grind out smoother. I am sorry to say I don't remember the pigment company but it was not one that I use normally, or one that is frequently mentioned on the forum. I suspect that had I spent $250 for the same quantity I might have had better luck!
Let us know how you make out with what you bought. I would love to try out that glorious blue but it is definitely out of my price range!
Gainor
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Old 25-01-12, 02:26 AM
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Salamander Salamander is offline
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I have bought Lapis watercolor from Daniel Smith. The first tube I bought was just that odd grayish color. I mentoned that to them and they said it was of bad stock and sent me a new tube that was indeed Lapis blue. I also use this mixed with et. I will also say that it is not my favorite blue.
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Old 29-01-12, 08:29 PM
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mona mona is offline
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Default working with lapis lazuli

Gainor, I don't have many comparisons to base this on either, but I paid just $28 for 50 grams, which sounds consistent with the prices on naturalpigments.com Here is a link to the Natural Pigments page on lapis lazuli:

http://www.naturalpigments.com/detai...UCT_ID=410-18S

I tried one painting session so far with the lapis, which seemed to need more egg medium than usual. My dry pigment looks a bit darker and bluer than the pigment picture on Natural Pigments. I notice it has a slight purple cast which can make it appear grayish when I mix it with too much titanium white, otherwise, as a more transparent glaze it's rather nice. It also remains lightly grainy after tempering, bunching up a little unless it is applied very thinly.

Since I was working with a mix of tube gouaches and powder pigments at the time, I tried a little cobalt and peacock blue from tubes mixed with my tempered lapis, so there would be a light amount of gum arabic in the mix, and this seemed to work well, applying it on the final layers of a sky in a miniature painting.

I'd like to try mixing a few of my Kremer blue dry pigments with the lapis too, and see how this works out. I have a nice cobalt cerulean blue from Kremer that I can combine with it.

BTW, only since I recently recommended it on the Forum and at a demonstration, I tried to order an Anniversary Set from Kremer for a friend, and they were out stock on this set. Although they've since told me it's on order, it's taking a while to arrive. Apologies if I flagged this set prematurely for anyone.

Mona
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Old 21-02-12, 07:58 PM
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mona mona is offline
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Default working with lapis lazuli

Since my last post on this topic, I have tried mixing lapis lazuli with Kremer Ultramarine Blue Very Dark and with Kremer Cobalt Cerulean Blue, and mixing seemed to go fairly well.

I would still love to hear of anyone else's experiences in working with lapis lazuli.

Mona
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Old 22-02-12, 02:25 PM
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Bumpkinboy Bumpkinboy is offline
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I'm like Gainor - bought a pricey ($90) teensy amount of lapis lazuli because ... well, because it sounded so sexy, so chic, to be using a genuine powdered semi-precious stone instead of some inexpensive concoction.

Results were dreadful (not in ET, I might add - in mixed media; but the principle is the same). Totally deflating - plus I felt ripped off, but of course I wasn't actually ... I just didn't get the fab results that I was hoping for. Not even close. I would never do that again - buy a pricey powder. I'll stick with the cheapo colors that actually work for me.

I gave the residual away to someone I hated (kidding!); if I had any left, I'd be happy to send it to you and maybe save you some money. Alas.
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Old 28-02-12, 04:21 AM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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From what I understand, the cleaner and brighter the blue, the better the quality of the lapis lazuli. The better qualities are significantly more expensive.

Modern ultramarine blue, which was first synthesized in the 19th century as an inexpensive substitute for natural "genuine" lapis, is actually the same formula as natural lapis - the two when written out chemically are identical. The primary differences between the natural and the synthetic forms are (1) in natural lapis the individual pigment particles are more irregular and crystalline, and (2) natural lapis contains traces of other elements (that add bits of other colors to the pigment when seen under a microscope). At least this is how I understand it. George O'Hanlon (at www.naturalpigments.com) knows a lot about such distinctions and would be best at explaining the difference between the natural and synthetic forms of lapis lazuli, a.k.a. ultramarine blue.

There are people who feel very strongly about these differences and who remain loyal to genuine, natural lapis. Painting is demanding work, so if an artist is in love with historic colors and is excited to work with them, I say - go for it! Whatever keeps you inspired and in love with painting.

However I am not yet convinced that working with genuine lapis makes a huge visual difference in a painting (unless you look at it under a microscope). The painters of the past worked with lapis because that's what they had. As soon as ultramarine blue was invented, most switched over. I am skeptical that the French painter Ingre's paintings were any less for him having used the synthetic form of ultramarine blue versus genuine lapis - he still made masterpieces. Artists from the past used so many different working methods and materials that no one method or material can be the answer to great painting. Its like hoping that with Shakespeare's vocabulary and grammer one will write King Lear. Sigh....if only it were that simple. So I'm not a believer in the need for a contemporary "traditional" painter to work with historic colors - unless, of course, the attributes of a particular historic color suit your needs, and/or you are in love with the philosophy of using historic colors. Then by all means enjoy them!

There are people (including George O'Hanlon, who I respect greatly) who would disagree with me. And no one asked about the value of working with lapis, only how to judge its quality. So I hope I haven't offended anyone by rattling on here - but I think the historic pigments and materials question is an interesting one, so I brought it up. Thanks for your indulgence everyone.

Koo

Last edited by Koo Schadler; 28-02-12 at 01:17 PM.
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  #8  
Old 04-03-12, 03:58 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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How timely. George O'Hanlon has a new article on historical pigments that just came out. It is at...

http://www.naturalpigments.com/vb/co...ists-Materials

Koo
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  #9  
Old 08-05-12, 06:12 AM
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mona mona is offline
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Default working with lapis lazuli

Thanks to Koo and everyone who shared info. about lapis lazuli. Koo, you make some very practical points about whether it is really worth using compared to modern blues. My feeling is, the pigment I bought did not cost me much, it has a romantic appeal for me just knowing it's 'in the mix', and perhaps a buyer of one of my paintings would just enjoy the idea of it being included too, but let's wait and see what kind of feedback I get.

By now I have tried out lapis lazuli in two paintings. Before using it, I also compared my lapis with the various grades of it which are available on the shelf at Kremer pigments in Manhattan, and from what I can tell, it seems I got a fairly good grade of it, which was encouraging. Here is a link to the two paintings I did which incorporate lapis lazuli, spread over two recent blog posts.:

http://monaconnerportraits.blogspot.com

Mona
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  #10  
Old 10-07-12, 08:47 PM
artsyiconophile artsyiconophile is offline
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Mona,

How does the Ultramarine Extra Dark from Kremer compare to the lapis pigment that you bought from DeMairo? I purchased some dark blue lapis from Cornelissen and had it shipped here to the US. It is a beautiful medium-value shade of ultramarine blue. However, there is a small pigment maker in California (www.masterpigments.com) that makes a gorgeous Fra Angelico Blue using the traditional method. His cost is 1/4 that of Kremer and the quality is amazing. It is a rather dark, complex, slightly violet ultramarine blue, but the cost is prohibitive for me right now. So, to my point, I am considering purchasing the Ultramarine Extra Dark from Kremer and mixing some with the lapis I bought from Cornelissen in the hopes of achieving something close to what Attila Gazo is doing at Master Pigments. Would Kremer's Ultramarine Dark (one step down on the value scale) be a better choice? Lastly, is the DeMairo lapis close to what Kremer sells as Fra Angelico Blue?

John Auger
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