Ben Cowan on Dioxazine Purple by Matthew Ballou

Ben Cowan

Recently, Brooklyn-based painter Ben Cowan wrote to his friend Peter Makela about Dioxazine Purple. Ben loves Dioxazine Purple. Here is Ben’s brief missive about the pigment, as well as a painting Ben made that he thinks particularly displays that purple prose he loves so much. Enjoy.

Why I love Dioxazine Purple

By Ben Cowan, March 2018

Dear Pete,

I do so love Dioxazine Purple for many reasons. One is it’s potent color strength. It is a dark rich color unmixed and when tinted with white it maintains its vivid purpleness to the very lightest degree unlike other violets and purples. When mixed with a Phthalo Green it makes one of the richest darks. Mixed with a yellow like cadmium or ochre it achieves a rich gray or brown that compliments other strong colors well. It’s such a warm purple as well, it can almost look reddish when glazed. Mixed with a blue it makes a royal cool purple. I end up using a lot of Greens in my paintings and the brighter the better. The strength of Dioxazine purple works well to compliment the Phthalo family (another pigment of which I am quite fond). Practically, D purple is relatively inexpensive and paired with its strength you get a lot of bang for your buck, not like some other purples I know. Sentimentally, I like Dioxazine because I started using it a lot when I first met Emily. She would where a lot of purple and I started putting the color in my paintings because I knew she liked it and the color reminded me of her. And finally I like the color because it has a ‘Z’ and the name is fun to say. These are the reasons I do so love the color Dioxazine Purple.



dioxazine purple


Top Image: Ben Cowan, Gates (Golden Mean), oil and acrylic on canvas mounted to panel, framed, 9″ x 12″, 2018


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