Italian Raw Sienna – Now Where Were We?

With natural earths an announcement of a color shift is almost always a subtle, nuanced affair; a slight nudge due to a change in sourcing, or a variation one might expect from mining a natural pigment. Unfortunately, this is not one of those moments. Placed side by side, there is simply no hiding or glossing over the large jump between a current batch of Italian Raw Sienna and where it has been since at least 2010:

Williamsburg Italian Raw Sienna

So what happened? This is what we know: since 2010, when Golden acquired Williamsburg, we have been using the same lot of Italian Raw Sienna that we inherited with the rest of their inventory. Clearly marked, seemingly fine, there simply was never a reason to doubt that the color was anything but perfect . However, when we recently imported a new lot of the pigment, our quality control tests quickly noted a dramatic change in the color, which sent us on a forensic search of past history and master color swatches. As best as we can tell, at some point prior to 2010, the bags of pigment were either mislabeled or the color inadvertently shifted by the pigment supplier. Because the changes occurred sometime in the past, and were already in place when the original inventory was brought over, it simply had never been caught. Before now.

At this point, of course, there is no way to undo or correct several years worth of production. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we are able to return this color back to where it belongs and keep it there. Which means if this happens to be a color you had used for years, but simply haven’t purchased in a long while, it will seem that nothing has changed. The new tubes of Italian Raw Sienna should have the same familiar warmer tone you are used to. However, if you recently got acquainted with this color, and the darker version has nestled itself comfortably into your palette, this ‘large jump’ will be something closer to a long leap, to say the least. But even for you there is a silver lining. As it turns out, the French Raw Sienna is nearly a twin, with a remarkably similar deeper tone and feel. Reach for that and you should feel right at home. If that is not available, two other options that are close but not perfect would be Brown Ochre, which has a notably greener/yellower cast, and Yellow Ochre Burnt, which is slightly lighter and redder in tone.

2 thoughts on “Italian Raw Sienna – Now Where Were We?

  1. Ahhh, but the bigger question: are they transparent? Mostly transparent? Semi-transparent? Nearly-transparent? not-really transparent? Kinda opaque?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Please forgive our negligence, I see your comment was made a couple years ago. I hope it is clear we’ve been busy with a lot of changes to the Williamsburg website, not that it should be any excuse for ignoring your comment, but it has changed our response to your question a little.
      Italian Raw Sienna is categorized as Semi-Opaque. You can look up all the technical attributes of every color in the Williamsburg palette here:
      You can even sort colors based on specific attributes. We hope this is helpful to you and other artists.
      Thanks for visiting and for reading our blog!

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