List of Brown Pigments

Raw Sienna
Burnt Sienna
Raw Umber
Burnt Umber
Mars Brown
Green Earth
Burnt Green Earth
Greenish Umber
Brown Ochre
Deep Ochre
Transparent Oxide Brown

General Comments

Umbers and ochres contain clay, which is hygroscopic and undergoes shrinking and swelling due to changes in relative humidity. Synthetic iron oxide (Mars) pigments are more stable in that regard, are lightfast and high in tinting strength. That being said, natural earth pigments have a long record of good performance, and are as lightfast as the Mars colors, which is to say, more lightfast than anything else.

Raw Sienna — PBr7

Virgil’s Assessment

Technical Links

Burnt Sienna — PBr7

Virgil’s Assessment

When I mention burnt sienna, I’m talking about the real, natural earth pigment called burnt sienna, not any substitute pigment that a manufacturer has labeled “Burnt Sienna” which is actually a synthetic iron oxide or a mixture of three pigments, as some companies are doing now. There are differences in drying times, tinting strength, and opacity/transparence, and in the case of Winsor & Newton, even the hue is different. These are NOT burnt sienna, and it is confusing and misleading for paint companies to use that name for them.

Brands that offer genuine Burnt Sienna (PBR7): Rublev, Gamblin, Blockx, M. Graham, Old Holland, Williamsburg, Michael Harding, Maimeri Puro, Holbein, Daniel Smith.

Brands whose Burnt Sienna is in name only: Winsor & Newton’s is PR 101, and so is Rembrandt’s. Sennelier’s is PBk 11 (Mars black) +PR101 (synthetic iron oxide)

There may be some variation from one burnt sienna to the next, but they’re all in the same general range of hue, opacity, and drying times if they’re real burnt sienna instead of synthetic substitutes.

— Properties of real burnt sienna? —

Burnt sienna is another pigment that causes sinking in, though not as badly as burnt umber, but usually the final varnish evens out the gloss of burnt sienna and other non-umber earth pigment passages satisfactorily.

— Comments on the synthetic substitutes —

I should add that the synthetic iron oxide pigments are very good pigments, whose lightfastness is comparable to the natural earths, and will probably outlast them over the centuries, but their drying times and tinting strength are not the same as the real earth pigments, so some adjustment to them is necessary.

Technical Links

Raw Umber — PBr7

Virgil’s Assessment

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Technical Links

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Burnt Umber — PBr7

Virgil’s Assessment

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Technical Links

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