Warming Up To Red


After years of resistance, I am finally warming up to the color red. Call me biased, but red is not in my color wardrobe. However, last night I painted a birch tree and felt compelled to add a few red dots to the branches, leaves and a blush of it to the sky. Am I a convert? Not exactly, but I am open to possibilities beyond apples and stop signs.

It started about six years ago when I was introduced to Diamine Monaco Red, a dark, brooding color, that has good properties for drawing. Then Ann Finley sent a small bottle of Diamine Vermilion, a lovely orange-red. Eventually I purchased a bottle of Rohrer & Klingner Morinda, a more saturated slightly pink-red. With those three my red range was serviceable. Noodler’s Cayenne, a spicy, orange-red, sent for review by Jet Pens fit in nicely. Last year Dick Egolf of Luxury Brands sent Noodler’s Tiananmen, a saturated dark red, and my red rotation was set. Even so, red rarely got used.

Red Ink

Once a doodle journal became part of my routine, it was evident that I could go through a large quantity of ink in a very short period of time. Using paint was the logical next step. I could lay down a lot of color with a brush, but reserve ink for my pens. With the addition of watercolor to my casual sketches, closely matching some of my inks was the next step and promised to add more dimension to my doodles. I started with red.

Red Watercolors

These are similar enough to work together in a monochromatic drawing.

  • Diamine Vermilion – Winsor & Newton Scarlet Lake
  • Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk – Daniel Smith Quinacridone Coral
  • Noodler’s Cayenne – Daniel Smith Transparent Pyrrol Orange
  • Rohrer & Klingner Morinda – American Journey Alizarin Crimson
  • Noodler’s Tiananmen – Daniel Smith Anthraquinold Red
  • Diamine Oxblood – Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon

So far I haven’t found a companion for Diamine Monaco Red. Neither have I found an ink that is comparable to Winsor & Newton Winsor Red, my favorite red watercolor. If you are a Cadmium Red fan, I tried to match the paint from Schmincke, M. Graham, and American Journey. They look like entirely different colors in my paint swatches book though they have the same name. Diamine Vermilion comes close to AJ Cadmium Red Medium. Nothing on hand matches the other two.

No one needs as many red inks and watercolors as I have. But if you have a favorite red ink, try a watercolor substitute in your journal. Anything from pink puppies to red skies goes. Make it reflect your imagination. After all, it’s your journal.

Watercolor and Fountain Pen Ink DuosTake these as relative – not accurate colors.


  1. Oh, I love this! I might have to get that Undersea Green… Sometimes I write with an ink and think ‘I’d love this as a watercolour…’ and if I can’t find it quick enough I’ll use the ink itself to colour in some drawings. It works, mostly, though sometimes I miss some of that graininess watercolours have. It would look more awesome with that.


    • Watercolor is more economical, but just as with ink, amassing a collection can mount up. Undersea Green is excellent with Moonglow. Add a red-orange for a muted but intriguing triad. Manganese Blue works well, too. Those are all Daniel Smith watercolors in my collection. I like DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange or Winsor & Newton Scarlet Lake.

      That graininess is a product of either rough paper quality or granulation as a property of the paint. I love that unpredictable nature of watercolor. It’s part of the fun!


  2. […]  Margana at Inkophile describes her flirting with red inks. […]


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