The Ultramarine Palette

$48 + Shipping

The Ultramarine Palette features four handmade watercolors created using pigments in the ultramarine family. Ultramarine is famous for its characteristic rich, deep color and is accompanied here by three variants ranging into vibrant purples and pink. Ultramarine Blue, Ultramarine Medium Violet, Ultramarine Light Violet, and Ultramarine Red offer a dynamic range of color ideal for strong washes or transparent layering.

While steeped in a rich history, today Ultramarine Blue is an invaluable red blue which is included in artist’s palettes more often than any other blue. It is a semi-transparent, staining, dark valued, intense modern pigment. It is preferred for its lightfastness in addition to its attractiveness in washes and color mixtures.

From a physical perspective, ultramarine is at the far short-wave end of the color spectrum, leaning into the violet side of blue. Variants of the pigment are based on similar chemistry and crystal structure, providing a dynamic family of pigments ideal for use in painting. The pigments in our Ultramarine Palette have been thoughtfully curated to include the highlights of the ultramarine pigments.

We pair these brilliant colors with a simple recipe and a traditional paint making process to emphasize the unique characteristics of each pigment. These watercolors are a perfect addition to a larger palette to enhance your painting experience, or used alone for a more minimalistic practice. 

+ Specifications

The Ultramarine Palette consists of 4 half-size pans of handmade, professional grade watercolor. All pigments receive a permanent lightfastness rating (8, on a scale of 1 to 8) and are safe for use.

The pigments of the Primaries Palette include:

  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Ultramarine Medium Violet
  • Ultramarine Light Violet
  • Ultramarine Red

Each pan is magnetized and packaged in a metal travel tin. All orders are shipped with a handwritten swatch card, reusable hand dyed silk ribbon, and a small sheet of 100% cotton rag handmade paper to test your watercolors with.

+ The History of Ultramarine Blue

For centuries Ultramarine was known as a pigment only in its natural form; the precious stone lapis lazuli. The stone was first mined over 6,000 years ago in the mountain valley of Kokcha, Afghanistan where it was then transported to Egypt and Europe for use in jewelry or paint making. Europeans nicknamed the costly pigment “ultramarine” or “azzurum ultramarine” which quite literally means “blue from across the seas.” It was as precious as gold, and remains so even today. Given the cost of procurement, lapis lazuli was reserved for use only in the most important works and subjects (almost exclusively the Virgin Mary in pieces commissioned by the church).

Due to a demand for the unique blue of ultramarine without the hefty price tag, the France’s Societé d’Encouragement put out a reward of 6,000 francs to whomever developed a synthetic version in 1824. Both French chemist Jean-Baptiste Guimet and German professor Christian Gmelin came forward with results within weeks of each other, vying for the prize. The winner was greatly contested, with both men claiming to have found the solution before the other. Guimet declared that he had found the formula two years prior but had opted to not publicize his findings, and the committee ended up rewarding him with the prize. Guimet’s artificial blue came to be known as “french ultramarine,” and suddenly the brilliant blue became accessible to artists everywhere.

+ Pigment Information

Ultramarine Blue

  • Chemical Description: Pigment Blue 29
  • Color Index: PB 29.77007
  • Lightfastness: 8 (1 is poor, 8 is best)

Ultramarine Medium Violet

  • Chemical Description: Pigment Violet 15
  • Color Index: PV 15.77007
  • Lightfastness: 8 (1 is poor, 8 is best)

Ultramarine Light Violet

  • Chemical Description: Pigment Violet 15
  • Color Index: PV 15.77007
  • Lightfastness: 8 (1 is poor, 8 is best)

Ultramarine Red

  • Chemical Description: Pigment Violet 15
  • Color Index: PV 15.77007
  • Lightfastness: 8 (1 is poor, 8 is best)

+ Color Swatches & Charts

Mixing and color charts coming soon.

+ The Process

During production, pigment is mulled by hand on a glass slab with a combination of gum arabic, honey, and food grade preservative. Each pigment has it’s own unique recipe that has been tested over time to ensure the perfect balance of pigment to binder. All pans are hand poured and dried in thin layers which minimizes cracking and prevents air bubbles, ensuring the pan is as full as possible. However, some cracking is normal and will appear depending on the climate and the pigment. Cracking in the pan will not affect the use or the ability of the paint to re-wet.