Chemical Description: Blend Iron oxide black, Sodium aluminosulphosilicate & Copper phthalocyanine
Pigment Numbers: PB29 PB15.3 PBk11
Lightfastness Rating: ASTM I
Pigment Opacity: Semi-Transparent
Paint Opacity: Opaque
Midnight Blue is a dark blue-black closely related to Paynes Grey except that Paynes Grey is a blend of Ultramarine Blue with Mars Black while Midnight Blue is a mixture of Phthalo Blue. While both are equally lightfast and equally useful, they have quite distinctly different characters and moods about the colors that they are mixed with. Paynes Grey has a distinctive blue-violet cast to it which makes it ideal for working with the cool end of the spectrum, especially with blue grays and violets or mauves. Midnight Blue is possibly a little more flexible. It has a distinct greenish blue cast that makes it perfect for making deep intense greens but, paradoxically, it is when working with the red and violet end of the spectrum that it really shines.
Midnight Blue, as its name implies has the inky quality of a midnight sky. It is a very deep indigo sort of color equally at home in the sky or in water at night. It is easy to imagine Van Gogh loving this color for his night scenes had it been available in his day. It has more color in it than Paynes Grey and as a result it absorbs more light and appears darker just like a midnight sky does. The Phthalocyanine Blue in the color is transparent and so tends to be more efficient at absorbing light than a pure black pigment can on its own. It can thus give the appearance of a darker dark even though it is not actually pure black.
An even more interesting black can be made by mixing Midnight Blue with Transparent Red Oxide. The beautiful transparency of the Transparent Red Oxide also causes a light absorption effect making the color beautifully dark, but the red also gives it great warmth and in some ways it is reminiscent of charred wood.
Try mixing Midnight Blue with Magenta Quin Violet. The result is a magnificent dark violet with a magenta undertone of great beauty. This wonderful violet is more lightfast that Dioxazine Purple while maintaining a similar tinting strength and has the character that the unpredictable nature that hand mixing color brings to the palette.
Dark bottle greens are easy to make by mixing Midnight Blue with any of the light yellows such as Bismuth Yellow or Cadmium Yellow Light. For a little more earthy effect mix with Yellow Oxide or Transparent Yellow Oxide for either a transparent or opaque very dark green for when painting foliage.
Grays are another strength of this color. Midnight Blue mixed with Ash Pink makes lovely soft grays with a greenish to pinkish cast while Midnight Blue mixed with Permanent Light Violet makes grays that have anything from a blue to a mauve quality about them. Mixing with Aqua Green Light gives another family of greenish grays and using Australian Ghost Gum softens the greens towards the sort of grays found in gum tree leaves, while using Titanium White makes the sort of blue grays found in clouds when summer storms are rolling in. This wide range of mixed grays and blacks, greens and violets make Midnight Blue a versatile choice for scenery from the Southern Ocean in winter to summer nights and water at night to the Australian bush in the middle of the day. Like Paynes Grey, it earns a valuable place in the artist’s paintbox.
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