Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pigment Choices That Last

watercolor tubes, art supplies, art studio materials, sorting through watercolor stash
Watercolor pigment is a major player in this artistic adventure!  In the past week, I found myself exploring the Diane Sutherland Botanical Artist blog.  Her work is just beautifully detailed.  In her post, About Watercolor Paint, she talks about the pigment labeling and what it means.  I was enjoying her post so much, picking up some great tips.  Then I read what she shares about lightfastness.  She gives links to other websites (I'll share at the end of this post) where test results are given for many watercolor pigments.  I had to go dig deeper.  Next thing I knew, I was sorting through my stash of watercolor tubes.  This had me wondering about my own supply of paint!  I can say I was not in a panic.  This is not an emergency.  It is information I'd like to understand.  I want to be informed for future art supply purchases.  I want to use this knowledge as I add to my pigment supply.  Here's an artist's point of view on quality of materials.

In the past year, I've been making a transition to all professional grade watercolor pigment.  I was so frustrated with myself for realizing I'd recently purchased two more tubes of student grade watercolor pigment.  That had not been my intention.  Mistakes happen, I guess.  I'm trying to make a commitment to all artist grade because it matters to me.

In my research, I found I have three tubes in my supplies that are questionable for fading.  Now, anyone who has artwork they wish to protect will most likely not hang it in direct sunlight.  That makes sense, right?  Watercolor artwork should be matted and framed behind glass and hung out of direct sunlight.  It's still wise on my part to reconsider using pigments that may fade or change over time.  The time spent choosing and mixing pigments, along with the time spent applying the individual layers of that painting...pigment choice matters.  I invest so much of myself that it's worth making changes to which pigments are on my palette.

So of all the tubes of watercolor pigment here in the studio, I felt pretty good that only three need to be set aside for display purposes only.  Aureolin (yellow), Rose Madder Genuine, and Dioxazine Violet (my tube is student grade) are not going to be on my palette anymore.  There's a fourth pigment on my palette, Scarlet Lake, and it will be removed.

watercolor tubes, art supplies, art studio materials, sorting through watercolor stash

On my palette, I found the Dioxazine Violet and Rose Madder Genuine.  I have Aureolin in a small plastic cup and it will go to the garbage.  I found Scarlet Lake on my palette (tube is gone) and that's another to be avoided.  I've marked the palette with masking tape, reminders to clean out those paint wells.

watercolor palette, pigment choices that last, watercolor paint on palette

The cherry blossom watercolor series is coming up as my next set of paintings and I'm relieved to see the color mixing charts do not use any of these pigments.  That means I don't need to go back and change the plans I've mapped out for the paintings.  While I enjoy mixing pigments for beautiful results, I also like knowing it's all ready to go!

planning for a watercolor painting, color mixing grids, cherry blossom watercolor paintings, artist references

For some, you may be asking why any of this is such a big deal.  Knowing that I'm offering the best quality work with the best quality supplies is what I want to stand for and give to those who purchase my artwork.  There's a confidence in knowing your work will stand the test of time!

So, it may seem insignificant to a casual reader, I can't say for sure.  You don't need to understand the ins and outs of the details...but hopefully I make sense.

 I take care to choose high quality materials for the work I create.

I'm not sure if I've got readers that want to check out their own pigment supplies, but here's where you can read more about questionable pigments:

The pigment tubes don't get thrown away!  They become part of my crate display, near my computer desk.  It's great to have these accents around the studio, making it a more enjoyable atmosphere.

A photo posted by Christy Sheeler (@christysheeler.artist) on

Can you relate in some way? In your pursuits, was there something you wanted to do or create and you knew you wanted to invest in the best finished product?  What areas do you feel high quality is a bigger priority for you?  It might be clothing, shoes, furniture, baking or cooking supplies, lawn equipment, and the list goes on...

Don't we all have a certain area where we decide we just won't compromise?

What I'm busy with this week:

I'd still like to write a post about art travel kits.  The current way I pack up my art supplies for travel just doesn't work for me.  I've searched Pinterest, collecting ideas for adopting better methods for my own weekend trips this summer.  If you've got any methods that you love, please consider sharing with me!

Today, I'll be signing Giclee prints.  Then, I'll move on to photographing for online display so they can be listed in the Etsy shop.  The next step will be packaging them in clear acetate sleeves.

fine art prints Christy Sheeler Artist, Giclee prints, watercolor art prints

If you're following along on Facebook, that's where I share more frequent updates from the studio.

Thank you for visiting today!  I'm planning the process of framing and displaying my current orginal works in the studio.  When that is completed, I'll host a virtual studio update in photos, and maybe with the addition of a short video as well.

Please ask away if you've got any questions!  I'd love to share and help others curious for watercolor painting information.

she must make art.

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