Square 5: Materials, paint

Onwards, and upwards! Now I can spare a few minutes to write about what I have learned about on the subject of watercolor paint. It isn’t very much, but it is something for you to think about. There are 2 general delivery types of paint – tube and pan.

Initially, I bought a small set of Yarka watercolor pan paints, because it was ~$7 for the

Yarka paints – 12 pans

case and the colors were nice. I was happy with it, and I still use the paints. If you go out and look into pan paints for yourself, you will find that they come in harder and softer varietes – and rated on their moistness. They can’t be completely fluid or cream-like in consistency because then they would flow around everywhere and spill, or smear, into one another. This is not something you want happening. Unless you were going for a large amount of that strange grayish-brownish color that will result. Mud – that’s what it will look like!

However, these pans of paint hold concentrated color that you just have to moisten a bit and use. When dry, because you don’t need to carry around tubes, some people reportedly find them more convenient for carrying around with them to classes or when they want to paint outside or in different locations.

Moving on to tube paints now. Personally, I decided to try some tube paints and got a great deal for some Sakura Koi watercolors in a set of 12 on Amazon. They provided some more colors for me to work with. I also liked the fact that I could add them onto a mixing surface and work from there without having to keep mucking up my Yarka pan paints. I like them. I have since purchased some other tubes of paint of different companies to try and am learning what I like to use more now. It is definitely tube watercolor paint, mostly due to 2 factors. The first factor is that I think they are a better value. One 5mL tube will hold more paint that what fits in a pan of paint, from my experience. It is also good to know that you can just squeeze out the color you want into a palette or tray, or refill an empty pan, and it will dry. Then you don’t have to worry about it being carted around and mixing on its own because it is fluid. The second factor I like is that there is a greater variety of colors that are available in the store when I go through the watercolor painting area. It’s amazing. I do a lot of color mixing, but now that I am settling on painting certain types of subjects more than others, I found that mixing a color can dull it a bit, so if you need a good color for sand or for flower petals, it is not a bad idea to use some undiluted color from the tube. That was it stays pure and fresh.

I do know a bit more about the tube paints, so I can’t say much about the pans in terms of fillers and binders and such. However, the tubes also have these additives – like gum arabic, or honey – that give the paint its consistency and keep it in a more fluid form. Another thing to take note of are the quality level of the paints themselves. There are student grade paints and artist grade paints. The student ones are cheaper and they have less pigment in them, so it will be more difficult to get richer color out of them and you may need to use more paint to get dense hues. They may even have pigment mixes that resemble the hue, as in Alizarin crimson hue, instead of actually having Alizarin crimson pigment. The artist grade paints are considered higher quality because they have more pigment in them. I also think that they have less binder in them, or better quality binder, because I have observed that upon drying out, they retain a smooth appearance, whereas student or economy paints crack. In the picture below, you can see how some of my paints have cracked as they dried out, while others did not.

Notice how the white, green and black (you can’t really see with that one) have all cracked while the others have a nice smooth texture. It’s easier to control the amount of paint you pick up from the smoother ones. Also, no little pieces break off and get dropped into your mix or your painting.

Those that didn’t were either Newman Cotman or Soho Artist Watercolor paints. The others were the Sakura Koi paints, which I thought were going to be of higher quality, but were not, after all. I am not shedding any tears, though, as that killer deal I mentioned before got me the set for $6.00 with free shipping.

Sakura Koi watercolors – 12 tube set

I am slowly transitioning to more artist grade watercolor tubes because I have noticed a difference. Mostly, I catch them on sale, and since they last quite some time, there is always some kind of sale when I need more. Another resource I use for buying my paints is eBay. Honestly, I have been a seller there for some time, and I think I may try to start selling some of my pieces there to lighten the pile I have slowly growing here. However, there are some nice deals on lots of good quality paints, if you know how to find them. If you’re looking for single tubes or just a few tubes of paint, though, I think you are better off going to an art supply store.

I think that about wraps it up in my knowledge of paints as of this moment. So, I will try to post again tomorrow. Then, I think I will have to plan out my posting so that I don’t write something up everyday and can pace myself for the long haul. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the writing, it’s just that I want to be able to deliver and not disappoint. Ah, the growing pains of a new blogger.