Sunday, 2 June 2013

Testing Watercolours.

I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of months comparing watercolour paints made by a number of manufacturers. I have done a painted swatch of each one in a wash on damp paper and in a 'juicy' wash to see how they look nice and strong.
Painted samples of watercolours.
I tested them all from dried samples since that is how I use them in my palette, rather than straight from the tube. There are so many beautiful colours available that it can be difficult to choose the ones that are right for you, but I have made some adjustments to my palette as a consequence of my explorations, which I'll share shortly. I very much doubt that any two artists would choose the same palette but I think it is interesting to see what others do and why.

What I am looking for is a range of paints that re-wet well, that are permanent (i.e. rate I or II on the ASTM or equivalent), that look lovely in diluted washes or full strength, and that mix well with the other colours in my palette. I prefer transparent colours in general, but love the granulation that is possible with watercolours. While I prefer single pigment colours, there are some mixtures that are so useful that I buy them in a tube or make them myself.


  1. Jane, I'm interested in the way you gather your color samples by painting on small tags. I assume you've cut watercolor paper to a uniform size (good way to use scraps) and drew a couple of boxes on each tag. This is efficient and makes the samples readily available to compare to each other. Perhaps one of these days you'll consider writing a post about this, with directions. Thanks.

    1. Hi Jo
      I have gathered samples in three different ways over time - as detailed studies in a large watercolour book, as paint swatches in a smaller book and, in this instance, on individual samples.

      The third method is the best for comparisons, which I am often asked to do. I'm happy to add a post about it. It is a good way to use scrap paper if you are not doing many, though best if all the samples are on the same paper for comparisons.