Iron Oxide Black – PBk11

mars black

The synthetic pigment Iron Oxide Black is relatively new, it began to be used in the 1980s, but natural Iron Oxide Black is an ancient material. The pigment is magnetic, which contributes to a wide range of uses, everything from printed magnetic strips on bank checks to magnetic paint for notice boards, but also for artists’ paint.

Mars black is a common name for the color but other names also occur. The color tone is usually somewhat cold. The paint is very durable and non-toxic. The pigment is more common in various color mixtures than as a single pigment in watercolor paint.

The color is very opaque. The fact that the pigment is magnetic makes the watercolor paint very granulating, the pigment has the opportunity to move quite freely in the water and clump together because the pigment grains are attracted to each other.

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A magnet under the paper can create nice patterns in a magnetic colour.
Nice patterns with red and yellow color plus Iron oxide black

This effect varies greatly between different manufacturers. For the most striking effect, I recommend “lunar black” from Daniel Smith. It’s a color that you can’t even paint black with, a black painted surface only stays black for a few seconds, then the pigments pull together into a black dotted pattern that doesn’t cover the paper. All other manufacturers have this effect of magnetism to a lesser degree, for me it means they are less interesting. Without this effect, the color is dull, opaque, boring and sooty.

A painting in which Iron Oxide Black is an important component.

Iron oxide black is therefore, for me anyway, a color for effects, not a black color for various mixtures. It is not suitable for all paintings, but in a motif with the right content it produces nice effects. It should not be painted thickly and intensively, but in more or less thin layers where the pattern of the color comes into its own. Do not use it as black, but for effects of the magnetic pigment that creates various intricate patterns on the paper.

Color index name: PBk11
Lightfastness: Excellent
Transparency: Opaque
Staining: Slightly staining
Granulates: Varies depending on the manufacturer, ranging from quite a lot to extremely..

Left: Lunar black from Daniel Smith
Right: Natural Black Oxide from Rublev

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