Art Supply Testing: Watercolour Paints (Cancelled)

One of the most important things for artists to consider when selecting colours is whether or not the pigments that make up those colours are lightfast. There are many discussions on this topic over at WetCanvas and recently someone came up with the brilliant idea of crowd-sourcing the testing of pigment light-fastness. By splitting the job between many people, it makes it much easier; between all the WetCanvas artists, we probably have a good majority of the colours available from different manufacturers, so we should be able to come up with a fairly comprehensive test.

I also recommend checking out Handprint. The site has a lot of information about watercolours from palettes and brush choices to pigments and colour theory. However, it should be noted that the site has not been updated in several years, so some of the information regarding paint formulations may now be incorrect or obsolete if the manufacturers have changed their processes. This was one of the driving factors behind WetCanvas’s crowd-sourced light-fastness testing.

These are all the watercolours I own and am testing for WetCanvas (I know, I have too many and I am working on weeding out the colours I don’t use to give to my Nan or sell on eBay). Obviously it’s not a complete selection – I’m sure there are other artists whose paint collection dwarfs mine – but hopefully it is enough to give an idea of which colours are suitable for long term display and which colours should only be used on temporary work. I’ve also included the pigment number(s) for each colour. On the WetCanvas thread, we will be updating every four months with how the charts are progressing, but I will also provide an update after one month. These charts will be placed in a north-facing window (it will get the most sunlight as I am in the southern hemisphere) with the top half of each swatch covered.

AS = Art Spectrum
DR = Daler Rowney
DS = Daniel Smith
HWC = Holbein
L = Lukas
MG = M Graham
SCH = Schmincke
SEN = Sennelier
WN = Winsor and Newton

Start Dates
Chart A: 5th Jan 2013
Chart B: 5th Jan 2013

Paper used: Eraldo di Paolo Field Pad (225gsm acid free)

Anyway, here is my first chart; I had two ready for testing but unfortunately one was damaged and will have to be redone to start testing next month:
Lukas and Schmincke Pan Watercolours

EDIT: Between injury and work commitments I’m afraid I’ve neglected this blog over the last few months. I have also realised that my paint swatches will need to be larger in order to provide more accurate testing (plus I’ve acquired a few more colours since then). I will be redoing my swatches, this time organising them by colour instead of by manufacturer, and hope to restart my test by the beginning of next year. The test sheets will then be left in position for a full year.


About Rebecca J Fleming

Some random geek on the Internet who likes playing with coloured things. Also, I like to put Easter eggs in the microwave.
This entry was posted in Fine Art, Graphics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Art Supply Testing: Watercolour Paints (Cancelled)

  1. I love this idea. It may not be strictly scientific, but much more immediate. Anecdotal, word-of-mouth information is a huge trend in the online world and useful,too, especially if there’s no other up-to-date resource available. I was wondering if those who were involved had agreed on the grade of paper to use for your tests.
    Your sunlight test sounds like a good procedure to implement for your own information. At least you’ll know your best choices among the supplies you already own. Interesting post.

  2. Pingback: Art Supply Testing: Watercolour Paints | Dragons, Demons and Darkness

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