This new colour, Shungite Black is a deep, sparkling, transparent black with the highest lightfastness. Its pigment is extracted from a naturally occurring mineral, to create a unique colour with both historical Shungite pigment (PBk6) antiquity and sparkling light. It has a low tinting strength, making it a perfect, subtle mixing black. The crystalline structure of this pigment also gives a subtle course quality to the cured paint, making it excellent for drawing back into to create mixed media artwork.
What is the History of Shungite Black?
Shungite is a naturally occurring, ancient black rock, composed primarily of carbon and found only in Russia (such as Karelia), Northern Finland, and parts of India. Shungite, has been used to produce black colour (icon-black painting) and in polished form for jewellery manufacturing since the 1700’s. In the 1800s, the raw slates and stones extracted from small quarries in the Onega area were used to adorn the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Virgin, the Isaac Cathedral, the Winter Palace, and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. (ref V.A. Melezhik, M.M. Filippov, A.E. Romashkin, A giant Palaeoproterozoic deposit of Shungite in North West Russia: genesis and practical applications, Ore Geology Reviews) The name Shungite comes from the town Shunga near the quarries from which it is extracted.
The Shungite rock, used as a colourant has a concentration of more than 98% carbon. Thus, chemically similar to carbon black, its crystalline structure differentiates it from standard carbon blacks. The particle size is left considerably more significant than a standard carbon black, not to destroy the hint of metallic finish to the colour. Therefore, paint made from this pigment may feel coarse or gritty compared to a standard carbon black. The crystalline structure also gives a subtlety to the finished paint, rendering the colour a lower mixing strength than traditional carbon blacks, which makes Shungite Black a perfect mixing black. Being a carbon black, the Shungite Black is relatively inert, highly resistant to fading and very stable to solvents.
Colour mixing with Shungite Black
In colour theory, a tint is a mixture of a colour with white, which increases lightness, while a shade is a mixture with black, which increases darkness. Using black to create this shade is especially useful when creating monochromatic colour schemes.
Shungite Black compared to Mars Black
Despite being the most opaque and darkest black in the Matisse acrylic range, Mars black will rapidly turn your colours to a dark shade when colour mixing diminishes the impact and sometimes produces an excessively dark shade too quickly. Creating shades can sometimes be frustrating unless you can control this rapid change. Below illustrates tints/shades of Mars Black with Titanium White.
Creating Shades with Shungite Black on the other hand, due to its transparency, we find this black to be a perfect shade maker when using it to darken up colours, allowing for more controlled colour mixing. Below illustrates tints/shades of Shungite Black with Titanium White.
Shungite Black dries with a high tooth surface.
Because the particle size of Shungite Black dry is not as finely ground as a regular carbon black, the colour stays metallic. Because of this, paints made from this pigment may feel coarse or gritty. This crystalline structure of this pigment also gives a subtle course quality to the cured paint, making it excellent for drawing back into to create mixed media artwork.
*Thank you to Matisse Derivan for the content sourced for this blog article.