top of page
  • Jenny Gilchrist

All about INDIGO

ALL ABOUT INDIGO. If you remember being taught the 'colours of the rainbow' when you were a kid (I think my mother had me remember these before she bothered with numbers!! 😂) ... Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet..... then you'll wonder why Indigo sits between blue and violet.

It's actually, by definition, a darkish BLUE colour somewhere between blue and purple... I like to think of it as dark velvet, or night sky, or maybe one of those amazing pansies.

But did you know that Indigo is actually a natural dye. It's naturally formed from the plants of the genus indigofera, a tropical plant which produces the natural blue in it's leaves. (incidentally, a lot of natural henna hair products also have indigo in them to produce a nice red-brown.)

The thing you might be most surprised to know is that it's indigo that created the colour of all our BLUE DENIM JEANS!!! Natural indigo dye is a historical colour, having been recorded in Ancient Greece 6000 years ago. Have a look at this interesting page with pictures of natural indigo, the powdered dye, and more. Wildcolours of UK.

Indigo paint is not for the faint-hearted. It's also not a fabulous colour for beginners. It's generally a mix between Prussian Blue and Ultramarine, but has other chemical alterations to darken it.

The chemical pigment combo of Indigo from W & N is

PBk6,PV19,PB15, - in Art Spectrum it is PB29, PBk6, PB15:3 so you can see they're slightly different though both have the PBk6 which is Shungite, a natural Black. This is what darkens it from those blues.

Each brand of indigo is slightly different.

Here is the website page for W & N who say their indigo is Staining, granulating, and opaque. (that's weird.) Winsor and Newton Indigo.

and here's the page for Art Spectrum, whos indigo in my experience is non granulating, and a little opaque. Art Spectrum Indigo.

I like indigo for monochromes. (above is one of my, not very good, monochromes in indigo) It is great for a tonal painting. It's also very good for just a touch, here and there, to add darks. It isn't a good mixer. It's not a social colour at all in fact, not looking great with anything much, as a colour in itself. The only exception might be orange. It makes a good background to orange things. (complimentary). I love to mix it with TONS of water, and let it do it's own thing. It seeps beautifully through a wash because it's so dark. Mind which brand you get, if you don't want granulation, don't buy WN. Anyway, that's my take on Indigo. I love it. It has it's purposes.

bottom of page