Chemical Description: Blend Diarylide yellow and iron oxides
Pigment Numbers: PY83 PR101 PY42
Lightfastness Rating: ASTM I
Pigment Opacity: Semi-Transparent
Paint Opacity: Transparent
Artists in the inland regions of Australia had a problem for many years. Many of the colors produced by northern hemisphere paint manufacturers are aimed at the softer light of Europe and other cool regions of their continent. The extraordinary light in more exotic and warmer regions such as North Africa, the American Midwest, and much of Australia gives the landscape a remarkable luminosity. The sky can be almost pure cobalt and the earth is alive with luminous reds, oranges and yellows. Photographs of places like Kakadu show rocks that are an extraordinarily bright orange. Transparent yellow, red and umber oxides were ideal for many of these colors but there was a need for a transparent sienna color as well to get that Kakadu-like orange. As no pigment had the precise requirements Matisse was hearing from artists in the field, their color specialists created this unique blend known as Australian Sienna. It has an earthy orange mass tone with a golden undertone that perfectly captures the enriched sienna type colors in arid regions.
It is not just Kakadu that has such intense saturation of color since Australia is full of these richly colored landscapes. From Port Augusta to Cape York; from Kalgoorlie to Collaroy landscapes are full of intense light and richly saturated color. The Grand Canyon and surrounding regions in the US have these colors as does the Sahara and special places like Petra. Australian Sienna has the richness of color to work well in all of these landscapes.
In many ways it could be regarded as a gold ochre but the traditional gold ochre pigments lack the transparency and therefore the golden glow of the undertone. Undertone is the color that is revealed when paint film is very thin. There will always be some difference from the appearance of the color when it is thick (the mass tone) but some colors have a vast difference between mass tone and undertone. This can be a very attractive effect. Usually those colors are transparent. Australian Sienna is one of the colors with a very distinctive undertone.
Because it is so transparent it is a delightful color when making olive greens and mixtures with reds glow with rich beautiful color. When mixed with Matisse Scarlet or Primary red it produces the deepest reds of places like Kakadu or the Arches National Park and with just a touch of Australia Ghost Gum added to the mix the pinks of stone in places like Petra come to mind. Considering the name of the color it is actually a great international traveller and perfect for the most extraordinary landscape subjects worldwide. Because Australian Sienna is so different to Raw Sienna it behaves quite differently in mixtures and both colors earn a place in the paint box along side each other.
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