Manufacturers please stop the massacre ...
Smith is the most recorded surname in the anglo saxon world. But what does that have to do with watercolour?
That's what, after participating at a workshop, inspired me to write this article.
We were a dozen watercolourists together during an workshop and the tutor gave us a list of supplies that would be needed to achieve the watercolour painting. Among them were Indigo and Transparent Yellow. The tutor had forgotten to indicate the name of the mark used. As a result, when mixing the Indigo with the transparent yellow, some of the participants did not get green, but brownish hues see close to earth tones see muddy colours.
Indeed, I found that if you buy strawberry jam, you see marked strawberry jam on the pot. When we see the composition we see the percentage of strawberry used in this jam. So it's normal that when you buy a tube of watercolour on which is indicated Indigo, that we can think that the pigment used in the composition is the Indigo ...
No, according to the manufacturers, I see that there are big differences in composition, which explains the behaviour of the mixtures.
So if you buy paint, do not forget your glasses, because if you can not read the little letters, you will be lost! Nearly all manufacturers of extra-fine watercolours indicate on their tubes and pans the pigments they use to create the colour. But it is very little visible on the tubes. I give you a little recap:
The names of the pigments how by P this is the abbreviation pure Pigment.
Then follows a second letter;
Y for Yellow
R for Red
B for Blue
G for Green
V for Purple
O for Orange
Br for Brown
Bk for Black
W for White
On the other hand, the other indications are often omitted or hardly visible. Most of the hues are indicative of light-fastness, but manufacturers often use different symbols. Winsor & Newton uses AA - A etc ..., Daniel Smith of I - II - III - IV, other marks put *.
As for the tinting strength, opacity / transparency or granulation are only sporadically visible on the tubes, what really become a headache for the watercolorist!
I know that by using the same colours from the same manufacturer, we begin to create automatisms. We know the particularities of this painting.,But what when we want to add one or more new colours, or if we want a replacement by a colour from another manufacturer ? It's plunging into the unknown. It can be a discovery, but in most cases it ends with disillusionment!
Only one issue remains. Try to get a detailed colour chart from the manufacturer and a lot of internet research, because if the Schmincke catalog gives the most information, many manufacturers do not go that far. They indicate or not the composition in pigments, the indication of transparency / opacity and regularly also if a painting staining or not (but without giving degrees as light, moderate or severe). You have to make the findings yourself. Few manufacturers indicate whether a paint is granular and never in what degree.
But this is not finished yet. Regularly confirmed artists contact me asking me if I have not noticed changes in the behaviour of a shade of a manufacturer. And to clarify all this, composition, name etc. I tell you about a test I did recently.
I tested the Transparent Yellow from Winsor & Newton. Thanks to other watercolorists, I obtained small samples of old tubes and pans of this PY150 single-pigment paint and compared it with a tube I had just bought. I painted strips on different papers and the results are very different. The artist who asked me the question used to use this hue on 100% cellulose paper and she noticed problems on 100% cotton paper ... Here we can see that the most powerful and transparent rendering is made on 100% extra-white cotton Fabriano, while the rendering on 100% Arches cotton is much duller.
As icing on the cake, I compared the same PY150 shade from different manufacturers and made mixtures with Indigo from different manufacturers. Look at the composition and the result. Some colours are very limited, less nuanced and duller compared to other blends of other manufacturers.
I do not want to proclaim the best, which brand to choose, which paper to retain, as this is very personal and appropriate to the taste of each artist. This only wants to show the difference.
Do you notice any differences? I am waiting for your comments.
So i tried to find replacements for the PY150 and the indigos with mono pigment quite transparent paints and painted them out to compare ...
I wrote this article to try to get a little more clarity in this confused world that is watercolour. We must finish with names that only refer to a final colour, but which does not take into account the components, guarantee of continuity in the mixtures.
I would like the manufacturers to better mark the composition of their watercolours, clearly indicate according to a common standard opacity / transparency and the degree of granulation and tinting force on their tubes and buckets. In this way, an artist will no longer use mixtures, which they know in advance impossible and not harmonious. The fact that the baths and sources of pigments can differentiate from one lot to another, even forgetting the other components that are rarely disclosed, often cause us problems.
And even beginners will be served when they can buy a PY150 Yellow Label X tube - Clear - 25% Tinting - 0% Granulation - 100+ Light Resistance.
It would be much easier to choose your colours and to finish with this jungle or we buy a Blue Cerulean and we are with a mixture of Phthalo blue PB15: 3 with white PW6 (composition very tinting, not granular quite opaque because of the addition of white), so nothing to do with the real Cerulean composed with PB35 or PB36 (poorly tinting, semi-transparent and granular). And this is just an example. There are dozens other examples (please see the compositions of the Indigos in the picture of the mixes with PY150) .