Thursday 3 October 2013

Lightfast tests - 5 months and updated June 2016 - that's 3 years of sunlight!

I tried  another method for this series of tests. Rather than painting all the swatches and cutting them up to expose half and protect the other half, I tried very hard to paint two swatches the same. (Nothing like a challenge!) They were pretty close but it is a less exact way of testing. However, it is much easier to manipulate these A4 300gsm watercolour pages than dealing with all the strips I had cut out of the last one.

In this test I just used the colours I most like. I painted all the ones in my palette or that I was considering using in my palette, and the 'extras' that I use occasionally...and a couple that hadn't made it into the previous tests that I was interested in trying. So you will notice there are a few versions of Quin Rose, Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, a few different crimsons and a few different Ultramarines etc as I tried one brand against another. I can't make the page any larger so if you are interested in a particular colour and can't read where it is, just ask me. Carmine, which wasn't in my other tests, is top left next to Buff Titanium. It is very similar in hue to W&N Permanent Alizarin which is third from the bottom on the right.

I really wanted to test the primateks too. Jadeite, Green Apatite and Piemontite are three that I love to use in my paintings that are framed and sold and of course I don't want them to fade. Since there isn't much research on these colours I wanted to do some more of my own.

The unlabelled swatches have been in a north facing window in my studio for 5 months so far. The labelled page has been in a dark drawer. Hopefully they will stay there for 2 years. So far I can see no change in any of them.

June 2016 update.
I had a good look at the pages today. They have now been in a north facing window in the harsh Australian sun for over three years. That's a pretty tough call for watercolour. I think a couple of the quinacridone colours have deepened slightly, but or lost some brightness, but I see no fading.
This is a photo since I don't have a large enough scanner. The exposed sheet is on the right.


  1. What a serendipitous day, that I found your website and all of your detailed studies! I have been researching which brands of watercolor to incorporate in my work. I have been a dyed-in-the-wool Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolour artist for 30 years. I have been impressed with what I'm hearing about the quality of a couple of other brands but because they are all quite expensive, I am doing my homework. Then VOILA!! I stumbled onto you!! I can't wait to see all your artwork in addition to the beautiful job you have done detailing the intricacies of being a professional artist! I see some purchases of your material in the near future. I thank you for sharing your gift with the world. You know it has always made me sad to see artists who keep their techniques and practices secretive. It's my belief that creativity inspires others to find their own voice, so thank you Jane, for making my day a lot brighter! Blessings to you my new friend!!

    1. Thank you Deborah - I'm glad you are finding it helpful.

  2. Dear Jane,
    Thank you for taking the time to do these crucial tests. The rest of us can only stand in awe at your diligence and thank you for the learning.

  3. Jane,
    How generous of you to share all these experiments and results with all the artists in the world. I couldn't tell you how grateful I am to benefit from your knowledge and I feel more confident using the pigments you've tested. I guess if they've survived such a treatment in the Australian full sun for 3 years, they'll last for decades or centuries in "normal" interior conditions. I would never had had the patience (nor the know-how) to do all this research, it's amazing and must have been super difficult to achieve painting two sheets the same way! Thank you thank you thank you Jane!!!