Watercolour Lightfastness Testing – Part 1

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. I will scan these charts every four months to show the extent of fading in problem pigments. The 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.

Manufacturers
AS = Art Spectrum
DR = Daler Rowney
DS = Daniel Smith
HWC = Holbein
LUK = Lukas
MB = Maimeri Blu
MG = M Graham
OH = Old Holland
REM = Rembrandt
SCH = Schmincke
SEN = Sennelier
WN = Winsor & Newton

Paper used: Daler Rowney Aquafine

Start Date: 9th January, 2014

Please click image for full-sized version.

Yellows and Yellow Earths
WCT Yellows

Reds and Oranges
WCT Reds

Violets, Pinks and Pale Skin Tones
WCT Violets

Blues
WCT Blues

Greens
WCT Greens

Earths, Red Earths and Med-Dark Skin Tones
WCT Earths

Shades
WCT Shades

To see how the watercolours have fared after four months, see Part 2.

Note: This post was originally posted at my writing blog. However I have moved it to this one just for the sake of keeping my art and writing stuff organised separately.

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2 Responses to Watercolour Lightfastness Testing – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Watercolour Lightfastness Testing – Part 2 | artdragon86

  2. Pingback: Watercolour Lightfastness Testing – Part 4 (conclusion) | artdragon86

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