Pigment Spotlight, Reviews and Tests, Art materials, Colour

Did I mention how much I like Daniel Smith Moonglow?

I probably did…

Moonglow is a ready-made grey by Daniel Smith. I am not generally fond of ready-made greys because they are often made of a black pigment mixed with something else to soften the colour. Moonglow is different: the grey is obtained not by using a black as a base, but by mixing three saturated pigments. Two are primary colours (blue and red) and one is a secondary colour (green). The result is a vibrant, clean and rich grey. The approach is similar to my Harmonic Shadows method, which consists of mixing three primary colours to mix a bespoke grey for any given painting. With all the above in mind (and the fact that I was seduced by the celestial name), I was intrigued by Moonglow and decided to look into it more closely.

Let’s start with the pigments:

  • French Ultramarine is a lightfast, transparent, saturated and granulating blue. I have it in my palette as a long-term, firm staple colour.
  • Viridan is a very pure, clear, transparent, lightfast and granulating green. I also have it in my palette, this one as a recent addition.
  • Anthraquinoid Red is a non-granulating, saturated, transparent red. Its lightfastness is where the controversy lies. Daniel Smith rate it as “lightfast”, while some others rate it as “moderatly lightfast”. A site I normally trust for testing paints is Handprint.com. According to Bruce MacEvoy, who runs the site, the Daniel Smith version of Anthraquinoid Red is more lightfast than others because the pigment is chemically treated to protect it against fading. Jane Blundell also rates Anthraquinoid Red and Moonlight as some of her favourites. But others who have conducted tests found the red unreliable.

Where does that live us? As you can see in the video below, I love Moonglow and I love working with it. However, with so many conflicing accounts, I can’t quite trust it in the work I sell, just in case the least favourable reports are correct. I use Moonglow in my sketchbooks, where the work won’t be exposed to the light. I love doing my tone studies with it, again on pieces that I consider to be preparation work, sketchbook work, and pieces that I won’t sell.

In any finished pieces that will be exhibited or commissioned work, I will contine to mix my Harmonic Shadows. To be fair, this is not entirely because I consider Moonglow to be unreliable. I can’t imagine ever finding a ready-mixed grey that will be able to replace all the different Harmonic Shadows mixes I use for different subjects.

I will conduct my own tests, both with Anthraquinoid Red and with Moonglow. In the meanwhile, Moonglow is confined to sketchbooks while keeping its secure place in my palette.

Please click here for a link to Moonglow on the Jackon’s Art Supplies site.

Please click here for the little wooden single compact palette in my Etsy shop.

Here is a video of the full review, with a painting demonstration:

Happy Painting!

2 thoughts on “Did I mention how much I like Daniel Smith Moonglow?”

  1. That looks like a beautiful colour Sandrine. I love the way it granulates randomly into its component colours. Seriously tempted!

    Liked by 1 person

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