Lightfastness testing chart, final version

I completed my watercolor lightfastness testing chart tonight, though it hasn’t spent time in direct sunlight, yet. Apologies for the poor lighting in the photo documentation (this all took place after dark)!

There is, I think, a lot I’ve learned from this project (and the phase of exposing this to daylight, has barely begun). I’ve been trying to get this chart done before school starts up, but if last semester was any hint, I might want to start studying now. πŸ˜›

Anyhow, below is what I’ve currently got:

watercolor lightfastness testing chart -- final version

The majority of these colors are Winsor & Newton brand, with notable departures (which, for your sake, I feel the need to get to, below).

For those who have been following this project, I did make it out earlier to get a Pyrrole Orange pigment — this is PO73, in the far right column. (I also got a better Raw Umber: both Daniel Smith and M. Graham had online swatches with nice flow.) I had planned to get a W&N color, but second-guessed myself when I saw that M. Graham & Co. also made a Scarlet Pyrrol with the same pigment (which I had skipped over and just not seen, online. One of the downsides of the Web is that you don’t see what you don’t see…).

I don’t think it totally replaces Grumbacher’s Vermilion Deep (just to its left in the chart above), but then again, I’m having less and less faith in that paint performing well. I did try again to paint Vermilion Deep out tonight, to see if the lack of wet-in-wet flow was something I wasn’t doing right, or if it was a characteristic of the paint itself. At this point, I think the latter is true.

Nor does it really give me any reassurance to know that the paint is made of four separate pigments (as I realized when making pigment notes on those black papers [Strathmore ArtAgain coal black paper — acid-free and heavy], though I just now realize that those papers may well fade in the sunlight as well as the paints! and that in turn could compromise the protection for the paints underneath the flaps…not to mention the visibility of my pigment notes).

Ah, right: I also just now realize that no one here really knows what I did. I thought I took photos during my working process tonight, but I must have forgotten to turn on the camera–! Seriously, I took the camera out, and everything. I don’t know what happened, except maybe I forgot to take pictures and thought I did, or had a critical user error. (I don’t think it’s a problem with my camera!)

Right now I have photos of every sample cut out and rearranged from their prior order (photos shown last post), with the little black rectangular shielding papers attached by a Scotch Tape hinge, and secured by a little more tape over the white part of the swatch. Then, I have photos of everything stuck down with a roll of tape on the back of each sample, which I should be able to remove. I just bit it and stuck it to a piece of Bristol board, too, which is good in that it gives structure to the piece. It’s just likely unnecessarily expensive.

The final product is what you see, above.

Less about the process and more about what I learned: it was very enlightening to note down the pigment codes of everything I had, because then I could see what I didn’t actually need.

For instance, Sap Green (PG36 + PY110) should be able to be produced by a mix of Phthalo Green [Yellow Shade] (PG36) with Isoindolinone Yellow (PY110) — which I have, now. What I’m paying for is basically for the company to discover and mix it for me, unless I didn’t have and didn’t want either of its parent pigments; or this is one of those cases like Permanent Magenta (PV19) and Permanent Rose (PV19) sharing the same pigment code and apparently just being different variants of chemicals similar enough to be classified as the same thing. (See the lower right corner of the above photo for an illustration.)

I also realized that W&N Payne’s Grey and W&N Indigo look harmonious because they’re a mix of three of the same pigments, just in different proportions. I had mentioned the harmony recently — likely in my last post, or the one just before it. That is, the colors looked like they were in a range (and I guess they were).

Also, W&N Burnt Umber seems to be a mix of other earth pigments…which makes me want to investigate what actual Burnt Umber looks like.


Okay, so what is not Winsor & Newton brand? Working from right to left, and top to bottom:

  1. The Raw Umber at the upper right corner (M. Graham & Co.): PBr7
  2. Lamp Black (Holbein): PBk6
  3. Prussian Blue (Daniel Smith): PB27
  4. Cerulean Blue Chromium (Daniel Smith): PB36
  5. Hansa Yellow (M. Graham & Co.): PY3
  6. Isoindoline Yellow Deep (Holbein): PY110
  7. Scarlet Pyrrol (M. Graham & Co.): PO73
  8. Vermilion Deep (Grumbacher): PR188, PR173, PR209, PY3
  9. Rose Madder (Mijello Mission Gold): PR176

The photo above is also sideways; paint names are visible to the left of the color painted, but I thought the pigment codes were likely more valuable — and visible — than the paint names (some of which, like “Phthalo Blue” instead of “Winsor Blue,” I’ve altered as I can memorize them).

And finally, those two out of order in the lower right corner are colors that I’ve decided not to use for now (various reasons), but am testing them for lightfastness anyway, as it may become valuable information in the future (particularly as regards PO62, which is in another mix on this palette [W&N Indian Yellow: PO62, PY139]).

I don’t regret getting Scarlet Pyrrol at all, at this point. It’s a beautiful color and harmonizes nicely with Permanent Rose and Winsor Yellow, at the least. I’m also softening up on the Winsor & Newton Cotman (as versus Professional) Cadmium Orange Hue, at least until I can see if it fades. It’s not terrible, but it is the only student-grade paint in this chart. That said, with the caveat that its lightfastness is to be determined, it performs better than some of the artist-grade paints.

At this point, I’m wondering what would happen if I took all the convenience mixes away: what would I have left in single-pigment paints, and could I get by with that? (Probably! But I would also probably start filling the spaces in my palette with other single-pigment paints, to mix colors I couldn’t get otherwise…)

I have more material to write about: particularly that producing web content could be a full-time job, aside from the web development and design angles; targeting an audience (a.k.a. remembering who you are); subject matter for art; and how I have begun to remember who I am (those last three things are entangled)…but I’ve written enough for tonight.

I will set this to post at 7:30 my time. For now (it’s 2:30 AM here), I can get some rest.


Continuation: lightfastness chart photos

Thinking back on it, maybe it would have been best to delay gratification and combine this post and the last, into one. πŸ™‚ In any case, I do now have photos.

color chart (aided by Photoshop)
I used Photoshop to cut out the two empty rows on the left, between the reds and blues.

I’ve opted for a more natural look to this, instead of trying to make the white of the paper as close as possible to the white of the screen, which distorts the colors a bit. There is a brightness adjustment added to this, but that’s all.

I’ll be identifying the colors by Row (top to bottom) and Column (left to right), for my international readers…I realize this might not be immediately apparent.

I also need to let you know a bit of errata: Viridian (Row 4, Column 5) isn’t a cobalt color, it’s a chromium color. I have a pattern of confusing one for the other…

Last night, I was also mistaken in saying that Vermilion Deep was the only paint in which I got brush strokes: Raw Umber (Row 3, Column 6) did it too, but I don’t expect much from Raw Umber, at this point (maybe I should try a different brand).

Anyhow: see that Winsor Orange (Row 2, Column 4)? Gah. It’s just terrible compared to the majority of the colors. Because my Winsor Orange tube also has a cracked cap and wanted to gush when I tried getting the cap off the tube (it was stuck and I had to really work to get it off)...and it grays out really quickly once I try to mix it…I’m not entirely certain what I’m going to do with it. Maybe I’ll go to an artists’ meetup and conveniently forget it/donate it…

blue test swatches

This time, swatching out the blues did produce an effect that is visible on a computer monitor (…I think?). Some of these colors, though…

I was working wet-into-wet, here. With a fully loaded brush, sometimes the paint dispersed immediately to leave the area I intended to mark heavily, leaving mid-range coverage in its wake. With some paints, like Cobalt Blue (second from the top, to the left), the paint actually seemed to try to cover the entire area evenly, instead of in a gradation. This would be a good thing if you were using it for a sky, which this color is almost perfect for (unless you didn’t want a blue sky!).

I had been trying to produce gradations to see what finer applications of the colors might do under sunlight.

One of the things I am impressed with, though, is the beauty of the colors which are more muted, here. I think I started out in class with French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, and Phthalo Blue (Green Shade). Cerulean Blue Chromium, Prussian Blue, and Indanthrene Blue were all later additions.

I’ve mentioned before that I read on that indanthrene/indanthrone can be approximated by a mix of Phthalo Blue with Quinacridone Violet (a.k.a. Permanent Magenta, in Winsor & Newton’s range: Row 6, Column 1) — check the notes under PB60 (Pigment Blue 60). I’ve tried this, and it does work, though the mix is obviously going to vary in shade depending on proportions.

I can also see myself working with Prussian Blue more, in the future. I believe I got this to try and mix decent greens…with my memory being unclear on whether it actually helps, though I think it does.

swatches of red paints

To the right, here, are the reds I’ll be testing. The relative character of Permanent Rose does, I think, come through — though this is still a bit of a dull capture. I’m looking at it now under an artificial light and it seems to almost glow. (This is Winsor & Newton’s formulation: different companies have a tendency to call the same pigments by different names.)

The top two, Rose Madder and Alizarin Crimson, are known to change color over time; hence they’re called fugitive pigments. I’m doing the lightfastness test to see how bad this actually is.

Incidentally…those two colors are related. They were originally derived from Madder (a plant) — Alizarin Crimson is one of two components that make up its color…

Anyway, the top swatch is Mijello Mission Gold — I got it as a bonus when I bought my palette. But even here, they acknowledged that it is not great so far as longevity…The second swatch, Alizarin Crimson, is Winsor & Newton brand. I’m not crazy about it, when there are alternatives.

I really like the Winsor Red (fourth from the top), after all this time. This was our “warm” red in Watercolor class (using a split-primary palette), though it barely leans to either a warm or cool direction. (Permanent Rose was our cool red.)

I’m not sure what to do with Vermilion Deep, though as I said last post, I’m going to try and find a better-quality paint. This one had almost no flow, and I’m not sure if it’s due to age (I got it on Amazon, who knows how old it is) or formulation. Maybe the page was just too dry?

Permanent Magenta isn’t showing up in the photograph, all that well…but I just checked another file and it’s similarly distorted. Permanent Magenta is basically a red-leaning violet color, more than a violet-leaning red. There’s an earthiness that it shares with Indanthrene Blue, which one might expect…

When mixing two pigment colors — like Permanent Magenta and Phthalo Blue (excluding fluorescent colors [which absorb light and re-emit it at different wavelengths], duochrome paints [which look different depending on one’s viewing angle] and complex things like dichroic glass [which both transmit and reflect light, though this may be an entirely different animal]) — the result of the mix reflects frequencies of light that have to be reflected by both (?) of the colors which went into it, unless I’m mistaken.

The basis of subtractive color (as used in non-digital painting) is that we perceive color as the leftovers of the light absorbed. The frequencies of reflected and emitted light, taken together, our brains interpret as a specific color. So Permanent Magenta reflects many wavelengths (colors of light), which my brain interprets as predominantly warm violet, with red. And Phthalo Blue reflects many wavelengths, which my brain interprets as deep blue with a hint of green.

When pigments are mixed, what is left over after both pigments subtract what they will of the light present, is the new color. In other words, a color very close to Indanthrene Blue is the light which was not absorbed by both Permanent Magenta and Phthalo Blue. Magenta absorbs some of what Blue doesn’t; Blue absorbs some of what Magenta doesn’t.

The forward result is a deep, inky blue with both violet and green tones supporting it, closer to black (black means no light is reflected), which makes sense…though I’m not sure I could do the math now to support why I think it does make sense. The following is just hypothetical:

On a scale from white (100%) to black (0%) — we’re talking about value, now —

Some light is subtracted from 100% with Magenta (Magenta would have a negative value); and more light is subtracted with Magenta + Blue (Blue would also have a negative value; the addition of a negative value is the same as subtraction). Even though this is not simple subtraction (after all, we are talking about many, many frequencies of light which are being tweaked individually), if Black = 0% and both Magenta and Blue subtract their part from 100% (white light), it seems feasible to state that:

close up of Permanent Magenta, Phthalo Blue, and Indanthrene Blue in greyscale

Magenta + Blue < Magenta, and

Magenta + Blue < Blue.

Wow, that was hard to get out. And I might be wrong, or maybe I should go into Chemistry + Optics…

There is the remaining fact that my Phthalo Blue swatch is indeed darker than my Indanthrene Blue swatch. I’m thinking that this has to do largely with the density of its application, not to mention the intensity of Phthalo Blue pigment, which has to be severely diluted to get to the point where we can even see that it’s blue. I do see that Indanthrene is grayer, though, and I wonder if that matters…

I’ve just looked at the image in greyscale, but I’m not sure that helps…

It doesn’t help, either, that my camera didn’t totally pick up the intensity of the Phthalo Blue application. I’m not sure why.

To get back on track, then…there are the yellows. I kind of am irritated at myself for not planning their placement out better, and it’s to the point that I don’t want to cut them out and rearrange them on Photoshop. But if you scroll back up to the top of the page, or better yet, if I re-post that image below:

color chart (aided by Photoshop)

…you can see that Isoindoline Yellow Deep (PY110), Indian Yellow (PO62, PY139 — just realized that this is a mix of Winsor Orange [!] and a different variant of Isoindoline Yellow), Winsor Yellow Deep (PY65) all look very similar.

For the cool yellows, Winsor Yellow (PY154), Hansa Yellow (PY3), and Aureolin (PY40) are hard to tell apart, here: but it’s not so bad in person — at least, when the sun is up!

Then there are the oranges, neither of which I’m too fond of, but Cadmium Orange Hue did save me from having to mix orange from the limited pigments we were allowed, in Watercolor class. It’s possible that the intensity of Cadmium Orange just can’t be gotten out of the colors we had. Maybe I should stop looking toward the yellows for the source of the problem, and try mixing more with an orangish, warm red, instead of a middling red.

At Green Gold (Row 3, Column 4), the yellows start morphing into greens. I feel the need to suggest that perhaps what I had mentioned before about mixing an alternative in acrylics from Bronze Yellow + an Earth Yellow + a blue, may have been off point. You see, Green Gold doesn’t look like it’s meant to be used on its own, but rather sparingly, to do things like warm up greens. It looks fairly horrific on its own and in high density, but look at this:


This is something I was playing with, a while back (hence the example number, I just pulled this from my archives): apologies for the lack of realism (it wasn’t the point of this exercise). Green Gold is what I used to heat up the right side of that leaf. It’s also transparent, so it’s very suited for this.

I don’t think that a mixture approximating what one sees in the tube or applied heavily, really gets close to what one would use Green Gold for. As I said a while back, Green Gold is a very expensive pigment. But I can see that a little goes a long way.

It wouldn’t have come to me so soon, except that in my latest play, I rinsed the Green Gold watercolor paint off of my palette and saw it form an almost neon yellow-green color in high dilutions in the sink. This isn’t something that’s meant to be used as-is, but rather combined with other colors.

I also really want to get into trying to mix more greens, so I can stop dealing with the question of how to create a yellow-leaning green. This is part of why I got Sap Green, unless I’m mistaken (I think the only green we were allowed in class was Viridian…which at the time, I hated. Not so much, now).

Speaking of Viridian, I’ve been advised not to let it dry long-term on a palette. I took this advice and kept it out of my Mijello palette; however, this also means that it goes forgotten, a lot of the time. But I don’t want it to become like Burnt Umber and just become a free-floating rock whose composition I have to guess at. (Burnt Umber still rehydrates beautifully; it just rattles around as — well — a rock, in dry form.)

three granulating green to green-blue pigments

I have an appreciation for Cobalt Turquoise now, that I don’t think I could have predicted. These two colors — Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Turquoise Light — are heavily granulating colors. I’m not sure if I’ve played with them too much, but the three pigments to the right are ones that are relatively intriguing for me, right now.

Particularly, it may be possible to get a more vivid range of greens by starting with a lighter-valued intense pigment like Cobalt Turquoise Light.

Also: Indigo and Payne’s Grey…are two colors that kind of wow me, now. Payne’s Grey is a cool-toned color which is almost, but not quite, black. If black brackets one end of a color range, Payne’s Grey would sit between it and Indigo.

The Indigo color I have is Winsor & Newton, and it isn’t actually true indigo dye (as real indigo is fugitive, this being why jeans fade).

Aside from this, I feel the need to mention, if briefly, Dioxazine Violet (Row 2, Column 5)…which is probably not a necessary color on this palette, now.

Earth tone paint swatches

And the entire column to the left of this passage, including Payne’s Grey, is composed of earth tones. The only one of these that I’m questioning the utility of is Raw Umber, because what I’m seeing in my photos and on my paper is what I’d consider, fairly…well, bad. I’m not sure if it’s me or the paint, or the amount of water on the paper…but I think it’s the paint. This is Winsor & Newton, as well.

The thing about Raw Umber is that I’ve been looking at paint swatches of different brands online, and they don’t all look alike. I’m not entirely sure…what causes that? but there are definitely versions which are bluer than others. In Color Dynamics class, we made a mixture of Ultramarine plus Raw Umber to produce a blend which could dull down colors without causing them to lose their essential character (or “hue,” if you would like me to be direct). πŸ™‚

And in Watercolor class, we didn’t even use earth tones; we mixed them by utilizing a strategy of mixing across the color wheel (as I’ve mentioned [somewhere] before, this will result in muted colors, ranging into chromatic greys). I’m really not sure if anyone liked doing it. πŸ˜‰ But earth pigments are a nice shortcut if you don’t want to mix skin tones out of three primaries. πŸ˜›

The nice part about mixing watercolors is that if you use a white palette, you can see what color you’re coming up with before you ever put it on the paper (though that can’t always be exactly accurate — I’ve seen artists online make test marks on the edges of their drawings. I used to make test marks on the facing pages of the sketchbooks…).

After all of that — unless my light, here, has already faded some of this, I should be moving on to putting black strips over the faces of the swatches. I’m probably also going to be doing some cutting in the process…which will likely be at least a little nerve-wracking, because I haven’t completely gotten the hang of not having my knife veer off course, yet!

Anyhow, that’s for another day…

Completed color layout for lightfastness test (no photos yet)

It will kind of be hard to talk about this without a photo, but the stuff’s just finished drying. πŸ˜› I also kind of screwed it up by not planning it out enough, the other night, when I began.

I should mention that I didn’t follow a method I found online or in a book — tonight was just spent swatching out colors. I’ve planned on using black acrylic paint to block out light, using watercolor paper as a surface and laying this on top of the swatches.

It turns out, I have exactly 36 watercolors I would imagine using (or 35 plus Lamp Black, fine distinction). I still haven’t gotten to the gouache, or to the part of this which involves blocking out sunlight.

As yet, I’m undecided as to whether to even take the risk of exposing Prussian Blue to strong direct sunlight…I’ve read online that strong UV exposure can release cyanide gas. Plus, I’d never put a painting in the line of direct sunlight if I could manage it, and these days, having direct sunlight hitting a wall for extended periods of time is rare and only an issue on east walls, near a window, at sunset (a luxury afforded by having blinds instead of curtains, I suppose).

Also, I found that I have several orange-leaning yellows that look alike (although they’re of different formulations), and only one red-orange, which is…not the greatest-handling watercolor I’ve ever used (this is Grumbacher Finest Vermilion Deep — the only watercolor I tested to leave visible brush strokes tonight [though also the only Grumbacher Finest in my collection — the Grumbacher Academy student-grade paints are actually really nice, for the price, so I was interested in their artist-grade formulas]).

This could explain my difficulty in producing strong oranges; the “orange” pigments I have are closer to yellow-orange, with the exception of W&N Cotman Cadmium Orange Hue (the only Cotman I’m using, and that because it performs noticeably better than W&N Professional Winsor Orange).

I’m looking at some kind of Pyrrole Scarlet or Pyrrole Orange (PO73) to try and open up the warm, clear red-oranges, though I’m not sure this is necessary. (I actually have my eye on Winsor Orange Red Shade, which to me looks closer to red.) Basically, I’m after something that is a similar hue to Cadmium Red Light, but without the cadmium. I’ve vented about cadmium salts before; the most I’ll say here is that they’re unacceptably toxic to me, right now.

I have the Vermilion Deep (which is a convenience mixture), plus Winsor Red (another Pyrrole, PR254), but those are the only neutral or warm reds that I have: everything else leans violet (though that’s not saying much when two of those cool reds are Rose Madder [Mijello Mission Gold] and Alizarin Crimson [Winsor & Newton Professional], both of which are said to be fugitive).

I can, also, add a golden yellow or “orange” to red to make it more red-orange; my problem is that I’m not sure how lightfast any of those yellows are (which is a reason to do the lightfastness testing). And I only have one decent orange…which is a convenience mixture, because I haven’t wanted to use Cadmium Orange. (I’ve been reading that it’s best to use single-pigment paints when possible, to avoid “mud”, though honestly I haven’t run across that problem yet.)

Still, though, it would be nice to have one red-orange workhorse, and the flow of my Vermilion Deep is disappointing, compared to everything else I used, tonight. This is with the possible exception of Isoindolinone Yellow Deep (Holbein), which backflowed unexpectedly for me while drying (although this was the first time I used it — maybe a greater degree of skill is needed with Holbein’s formulations); and Winsor Orange (which I just really don’t like. When you see the photo, you’ll see one reason why).

Winsor Orange is actually made with an entirely different pigment than Winsor Orange Red Shade, by the way…

One thing I did really unexpectedly enjoy was seeing the performance of some of the cobalt colors I have. Yes, I know, cobalt’s toxic, too; but I’m not as concerned about it, having needed to work with it in the past.

In particular, shades of Viridian through Cobalt Turquoise Light…then also dealing with Cerulean (though I have Daniel Smith Cerulean Blue Chromium, which isn’t a standard Cerulean) and Cobalt Blue…I just want to DO something with those, you know?

The Ceruleans, Viridian, and Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Turquoise Light are all colors whose pigments clump together (this means they “granulate,” unless “flocculate” is the more accurate term, I’m not certain), and so they produce really interesting textures. There is also a common thread here in that all these colors are based on cobalt — which has a color range that really astonishes me: from yellow to green through blue and violet (at least so far as I’m currently aware).

There’s also the difficulty here that some cobalt colors (like my Cerulean Blue Chromium [PB36, “Cobalt Chromite Blue Green Spinel”]) will react poorly with certain other pigments (in this case, Winsor Yellow [PY154, Benzimidazolone Yellow])…I don’t know why. I’m not a chemist. But it leads to immediate strong granulation (visible even before laying down the paint) and poor adhesion to the paper.

I’m sure there’s some way of helping the paints stay down (like maybe mixing some type of glue [likeΒ nikawa, or animal glue] with the paint), but I did get rid of my test paper where this occurred because I was more concerned about keeping the pigment from finding its way into anyone’s system and making them sick, than keeping records. Cobalt is a heavy metal, so it’s not safe to get it everywhere. I just also read that like cadmium, it can’t be chelated out of one’s body; so it’s best to contain it, when possible.

And I almost didn’t get around to saying this, but almost immediately after I finished this chart, I wanted to redo it in a more organized fashion. Seriously, once I realized that I stuck one of my only orange paints right in a column of yellow paints…gah. Or, right after I came back to this today and realized I’d want to organize this by column instead of row, and could not “erase” the paints I’d already laid down…and then penciled in what went where as best I could and then realized I’d not foreseen everything, despite it.

It seems silly to make an art project out of categorizing and organizing colors, but I’m pretty sure that the tendency to want to do so is an effect of my job (for newcomers to the blog, I work in a library as support staff). And at this point, I’m resisting (for the moment) cutting these apart and re-ordering them, because it will make things more of a pain when I put the light-blocking strips on top.

I guess I’ll see how I feel about this, tomorrow…(well, technically, after some sleep).

What do I do with my time?

Today was almost totally wasted asleep. I should have taken medication and gone to bed earlier, last night, but there were other things on my mind. Part of that happened to be reading over my backposts for the last semester.

The most bizarre thing about that is the fact that I had been aiming to work on sewing for most of Fall 2017, but didn’t realize it. I actually didn’t cut apart my pattern pieces for the monpe I wished to work on, until earlier this week (well, last week β€” it’s Sunday still, right?). I still haven’t cut out the pieces for the mockup muslin garment (or toile), though that wasn’t what I had planned to do, today.

What I had initially planned to do was to go out for one or two Fat Quarters in orange and yellow, though I found later (yesterday, actually) that we already had enough here for me to work with. Apparently, my and M’s tastes in color are complementary, with her range toward red/orange/yellow, and mine toward green/blue/violet/pink (pink is desaturated magenta, not red…I probably shouldn’t get into the color theory now).

When I found out I didn’t have to go out, though β€” and I accidentally slept with the blinds closed β€” I didn’t wake up until after noon. It didn’t help that it was dark outside from all the clouds. I think I got up, ate breakfast, did something at the computer (I remember turning the lights on instead of opening the blinds β€” this being apparently more effective), and went back to bed because it was warmer there. I didn’t wake up after that, until D woke me for dinner.

Last night, though…like I said, I had been reading over last semester’s posts, and realized that I had purchased a number of paints that I had never even tried to use. That, in turn, reminded me of my Final Project in Web Design, which I had initially wanted to take much farther than I did, or could, just as a Final Project. I think I still have the papers around here where I was brainstorming a more complete version of it.

The thing about this, though, is that I made a paint table with all the paints I had used in research for the project which I had information about (it kind of goes without saying, but I did use the color wheel I had made in 2007, which used paints which had no pigment code labeling [Scarlet Lake what?]). This included color swatches.

When I set up the final page, though, I found that my color range was skewed toward warm colors. This is the reason I tried to find the Quinacridone Magenta, earlier; though at this point, I haven’t even tried to use the Magenta, unfortunately.

There are a couple of other paints like this, though I’d have to look through my stash to see what I bought and have never used. It would be faster than looking through six months of blog postings.

I also think…that I should take that Web Design Final and just use it as a launching point for a more advanced project. I’m looking at what is there now, and it’s passable as a proof-of-concept type of thing…though in reality, if I make a website that I want to make β€” as versus something that fulfills various technical requirements β€” it will look different.

There are two main paths I’m considering: one is using for a baseline thing to toy around with, which should be fairly direct, as I already have been using However, there is some knowledge I will need which I don’t have, yet (particularly, setting up an SFTP link between myself and the server).

The second option is to build the site from the ground up. This may be a simpler and more powerful option in the long run, and it won’t save me from the SFTP work. But I will need to study and work at it; and I guess the question is whether it’s more important to me to build and tinker with the code itself, or whether it’s more important to get my content out there.

The bright part of this is that building the site will likely give me marketable skills…until technology moves on.

Not to mention, I do have a tool which allows me to run local versions of sites, so I don’t have to wait to set myself up with server-space rental in order to start playing around with visualizing and coding this. More importantly, though: if I want to make a site, it would make sense to start in hard copy, with paper prototypes (ha ha paper prototypes), and really figure out what content I want to post, and why.

I also gotta be honest with myself and realize that the next year is likely going to be taken up with piecing together my portfolio for graduation. I don’t think that’s going to be fun. I meant to get started with it earlier in Winter Break, but it didn’t happen. I just somehow started thinking about how to enjoy my time on the planet (while I still have it) instead of working on graduation. 😑

Anyhow. I need to be working on driving, too, but somehow this is not seen as prime driving instruction time by my family?

What I thought of doing today — while I was awake, that is — was to make a chart by which I could actually tell if the pigments I’ve been told are fugitive, actually are (particularly, Aureolin). I could also work on seeing what colors I actually have, by swatching out what I’ve never even tested.

And I could do some more reading in that comics-making book I asked M and D for, for Xmas. I have enough materials to make a comic. I think I just have to be brave enough to express myself in a scenario and plot…

…unfortunately, what’s currently on my mind is the possibility of unrecognized forms of life communicating with people telepathically. I didn’t really want to get into tin-hat territory, but I can see how one could, now…

Images to go with last night’s post:

Alright. So at this point, I’ve been able to think things over a bit, as regards school; and have a default project for my Web Usability Final. Also, I did photograph those little sketches I did last night. Though the photos came out fine, applying Auto Levels in Photoshop did make them look less grey, so I’ve left them that way.

And to reiterate and continue from last post: I was drawing from imagination, with the goal of testing out a color; I wasn’t trying for photorealism (and in fact intentionally avoided photo reference until completing these three sketches). Apologies to people who have monstera deliciosa direct reference! Even though I am based in California, and I’ve read these are endemic to Mexico, they’re relatively rare, in my location.


These are the first two attempts that I made in trying to draw and then color, using Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolor — which, by the way, is only the green hue in this image. I mixed it with Holbein Lamp Black; and Winsor & Newton’s Winsor (Dioxazine) Violet tube watercolors, in the background.

The Radiant (dye-based) watercolor lends itself to very delicate work — more delicate than I could get with the tube watercolors alone. (With the latter, I had trouble in accidentally pushing the pigment around on the page.)


This third attempt was done entirely with tube watercolor. I’m not as happy with the “feel” of the leaf, as it’s more angular and shield-like than I would like. Upon viewing a reference at the end, I’m thinking that this one is the farthest from the actual “feeling” of a monstera deliciosa leaf, although the flow of the veins from the center (but not the patterning of the veins) is more on-point.

But back to the colors: I used Winsor [Phthalo] Green (Yellow Shade), which is the blue-green; Green Gold (which is the yellow glaze to the right), Dioxazine Violet, Permanent Rose (fairly invisible here; it’s mixed with the black at lower left, but there’s so much black that it disappears), and Lamp Black.

For an explanation of why I was comparing these colors, you’ll want to see last post, and the post before that (for context).

So…yeah, this is what I was doing last night, after a 5-hour near-marathon of trying to get work done for Finals. (I took a break of about an hour in the middle, in order to make a salad.)

Which reminds me, I should be doing some work. *sigh*

Though I am looking forward to continuing to try and draw these leaves…I can see where it could turn out really nice. In any case, I’ve only got two more weeks of the semester left (!!)…

…which means that I need to get on it.

Alright! The watercolors *are* usable!

There is a difference between using Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated (liquid, dye-based) Watercolors and (pigmented) tube watercolors. But the difference largely is in the randomness that comes with the flow, spread, and drying of pigmented watercolors, as versus the smoothness and fineness of gradation that can come with water-soluble transparent dyes.

Drawing from imagination

Today, after about five hours of homework, I let myself do something to relax. I followed what I had been doing with the flowers, and just started drawing what I had in my mind’s eye. I essentially drew what I thought what I wanted to draw looked like, which, of course, isn’t what it actually looks like. But it’s an interesting exercise to undertake which gets me away from attempting to reproduce things photorealistically, and lets me use more imagination in the process.

Because I only have one vial of the Ph. Martin’s Radiant β€” which I bought…probably back when I was in high school, or around that time β€” and this in “Calypso Green,” I decided to try drawing something I met up with last time I was in Hawaii. This is a plant colloquially called “Swiss Cheese Plant,” a.k.a. Monstera Deliciosa. The leaves of these plants are commonly used as fabric motifs.

In any case, I was intentionally working without a reference, so I didn’t recall that Monstera leaves are actually greener/less blue than the bluish-green color I had. Luckily, working without a referent, I had little reason to worry myself with this…especially as Hawaiian fabrics which showcase motifs of these leaves, often change the color schema totally away from what’s seen in reality (or at least, what I have seen in reality!).

At this point, I haven’t done scans or photographs, though there is a very visible trend that I can see through the progressive versions (three) which show the development of my thought of how to draw and paint this thing. And, having viewed references tonight, I have an idea of what I got correct (what I took away from my memory of these leaves which was most important) and how to tweak minor things to look more lifelike.

The watercolors are great for fine art; maybe not as suited, to reproduction work.

The clearest takeaway is that I do not have to buy the Ph. Martin’s: I was working, tonight, with five colors, and all of them were pretty much entirely transparent, so far as I could see. Those colors were Winsor [Phthalo] Green (Yellow Shade), Green Gold, Dioxazine Violet, Permanent Rose, and Lamp Black. All of the non-black colors were Winsor & Newton brand, while Lamp Black was Holbein. (I am aware that there are “transparent” watercolors which feature opaque pigments, such as Cadmium Orange; my task will just be to figure out which those are, via research or experience, and avoid them if I want to preserve underlying linework.)

In the test which I made with the Calypso Green, I also mixed in Lamp Black and Dioxazine Violet, from my tubes. I started adding more and more different colors, though, after I saw what I could do when not working monochrome (or duochrome β€” I don’t think black is technically considered a color, here).

What was surprising, was the intensity of color I was able to get out of my tube watercolors, and that it surpassed what I had done with the liquid watercolor (though I’ll have to do more experiments to see if this is a fluke, or due to my differing approaches in each attempt). As I hinted at earlier, the tube, pigment-based watercolors leave a textured look after drying, which is not as apparent with the liquid, dye-based watercolors.

I am very, very certain now that the dustiness I was getting with my watercolors has to do with the fact that I was trying to use them from a semi-dry state, and not right from the tube. I also very likely was not using enough paint. This is something that my last Watercolor teacher got on me about (…before he messed up my Aureolin pan and left it so brown that I just forgot about ever salvaging it).

Tonight I used the paints straight from the tube, diluted with water, of course, but not washed out with water; at least in the third leaf I painted, which was wholly tube paint. I wish I would have taken my time there, and gone in with 2-3 layers of dark color, as versus having too much paint and water in my brush at the same time and making blotty uncontrolled marks. But maybe that was also me, being used to using natural hair (sumi brushes, tiny hybrid brushes) as versus full synthetic…

I also opted, tonight, to stick with Microns for linework, instead of going in with my Ph. Martin’s Bombay Black India Ink β€” which I know works beautifully, but I doubted my ability to use a steel dip pen at this point in my work, and if so, which nib; and will I have to burn it first and will I have to soak it in ink remover later… My point was to experiment with the Radiant watercolor, not to experiment with everything.

A last note on this before I get into geeking out over paints: the Radiant watercolor from year 199x, which is the only vial of this I’ve ever bought, also smelled of something which I think might have been…ammonia? The only caution I found on a lookup for the new version was to avoid getting it in one’s eyes, so it’s possible that my nose was accurate. But then, I hardly ever smell ammonia, anywhere, to the point that I’m not sure I can recognize it. The smell reminded me of weak vinegar, actually. And considering how old it is…the fact that it’s viable at all is surprising.

I’m not sure if whatever is making this scent, would interact with other paints. In any case, the new versions of this are said to be fairly safe, according to the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets).

Trying Green Gold (PY129)

It was my first time using Green Gold (Pigment Yellow 129, or PY129) in a mix! I got this a long time ago, but had never been able to play with it. I had read over at that it is very useful for making greens more yellow-leaning, and…I actually do really love what it did. I just feel hesitant to make greenery too yellow-looking, as it can read as dying vegetation.

As a note, though: Green Gold as a pigment is way more affordable in watercolors than it is in acrylics, probably just because the sheer amount of pigment you get in a tube, is less. I was working with a 5 ml tube of watercolor, instead of a 2 oz. tube of acrylic (as is standard for a tube of Liquitex Heavy Body paint, which is normally what I would use for acrylic painting. It’s good, but not quite on the level of Golden paints).

According to a quick conversion by Google, 5 ml is equal to ~0.17 US fluid ounces…which probably accounts for the difference in price! (I’m sure that the watercolor version is much more concentrated, though.)

In acrylics, I’m pretty sure that I opted to mix the shade instead: the only difference seems to be in price and opacity. A 2 oz. tube of Green Gold in Liquitex is around $19 MSRP (as of this writing). Of course, that price is mitigated with discount art stores. A 5 ml tube of Green Gold in Winsor & Newton tube watercolor is around $11 MSRP (without discounts).

In contrast, a 2 oz. tube of Liquitex Bronze Yellow (a good start to reproduce this color, along with an orange-leaning or earth yellow and a blue I’m uncertain of, right now [it has been a while since I’ve been mixing acrylics]) costs less than half as much, even at full price.

How much canvas or paper each of them will cover, is uncertain to me: some pigments mix more strongly than others, and I haven’t used up a tube of either of these Green Gold paints. I do think that $19 for a tube of paint is kind of a bit much, however; and in some (many?) cases, having to buy paint in 2 oz increments, is too much (especially if you’re like me, and your paints last so long that the tubes biodegrade and force emergency measures to either save or throw out what’s inside).

That is: getting a 1 oz tube of an expensive pigment for half as much (or a little more than half as much, to account for packaging, shipping and distribution costs), is much more reasonable, to me (especially considering that I haven’t used the paint yet, and thus don’t even know what it can do).

Anyway, that was kind of a dead-end tangent (though empty paint tubes are sold for just such emergencies as the neck of a paint tube peeling off), but it was fun to get into, at the time. πŸ™‚

And, I found…

…it’s much nicer to work on large sheets of paper, than it is to work on smaller sheets. I’m not entirely certain why this is, yet, but it does allow “breathing room” for my images, and room for them to grow. Right now I’m using a watercolor notebook…I’m pretty sure it’s Canson Montval watercolor paper.

Tomorrow, I’ll try and take photos and upload some of the work I did tonight, though I know it’s going to be difficult to do without going back in to try and correct things! I suppose I’ll just have to apologize beforehand for not remembering what a Monstera Deliciosa plant looks like… πŸ™‚ …which will be all too obvious to people who actually live with them!

(I’m just trying to use a visual adaptation of a free-writing approach…where [generally speaking] we aren’t always experts on what we’re imagining, but the products of the exercise can seed new work…but to get into explaining that would likely take another post. It’s almost 1 AM my time, as well; I should turn in.)

Wanting to work in an illustrative style.

transparency with intensity.

I realize now, that what I’ve been looking for in watercolors, acrylic inks, and inks is the strength and intensity of color I’ve found in heavy-body acrylics and gouache, but transparent. The transparency feature is mainly to allow me to take an illustrative/drawing approach (with visible lines instead of only blocks of color), so that I can scan the images and it will still come out looking alright.

One of my last art instructors said that the difference between drawing and painting, is that there are generally no lines in paintings, only blocks of color; which is the clearest definition I think I’ve heard.

digital media.

I think I know what to do at this point; which is to work with transparent, fluid inks (such as Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks), or transparent liquid watercolor (such as Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Watercolor), and just resign myself to the fact that the inks are fugitive (will fade/change color over time), and my scan (a high-resolution uncompressed TIFF file) is likely going to be the archival copy of my work.

This also means that the archival copy is going to be digital…making multiple and regular backups useful, if not necessary. This will also necessitate migrating my work whenever older formats become obsolete…and I have some experience with that from my Digital Archives class.

painting surfaces and supports.

It also means that, if I’m going to scan these things, I’m really going to have to watch for cockling (warping) in whatever I draw + paint on. I might be moving to Mixed Media paper for this, though; instead of cotton-based watercolor paper, which is intended to be archival. (There’s no point to painting with colors that are expected to fade, on top of a surface made to last hundreds of years.)

I haven’t tried Bristol board for this, either. It’s worth a shot. And I haven’t tried Illustration board — to be honest, I still don’t know how to use Illustration board and control its warping with water, at the same time. (It tends to expand and contract unevenly, depending on what area is wet, and how wet it is. The wetter it is, the more convex it becomes.)

Also worth a shot are a couple of QoR mediums which could allow me to draw and paint with watercolor on board, as versus paper, but that’s probably further than I need to reach. If I stretch (or tape — I’m not sure Mixed Media paper can stand outright wet-stretching) paper onto Masonite and then shear out the final copy with an X-Acto and straightedge, I should be OK. I just can’t bet on using the entire sheet up to the true edge of the paper.

Of course, Masonite itself…likely isn’t the best substrate (it begins to fall apart on me when I pull the tape off). D suggested acrylic sheet as a backing, while I was thinking along the lines of a flat sheet of melamine. I don’t know if either will work, but I know what I’m doing now is (or would be, if I were painting a lot) kind of wasteful, as Masonite isn’t all that strong when it comes to working with water and adhesives. At least I would be able to remove tape from acrylic, without damaging the acrylic.

dusty watercolors. import, optimization, display.

One sad thing about importing photos onto my computer is that the chroma (color intensity) always looks stronger on the screen, than it is in reality. I’m not entirely sure why this is.

But then, I’m not entirely sure why color distortions happen in my camera, in general. I mean — I know it has to do with the lighting, and probably the specific wavelengths put out by whatever light is being used, and the camera accounting and compensating for that (or something like it). I just feel like I need tighter control of the photography angle of this.

The problem is that I don’t know much about digital photography — or, traditional photography, for that matter. I do know about Photoshop, but it’s knowledge that is very practical and not anything that lets me understand what I’m actually doing when I edit the Black and White points on a color channel’s Histogram.

But like I said before — I have a working color scanner that can encode into TIFF, so improving my digital photography skills and getting a better camera isn’t urgent or necessary at all to publish to the Web, at this point. It’s pretty much taken care of.

I just ran across someone online mentioning that colors in her watercolor paintings tended not to look as intense over time as she would like; and though I’m mostly dealing with paint swatches at this point (my watercolor painting time pretty much ended in Fall 2016), I can relate to a dusty, faded look in watercolors. It could be because of the fact that I’ve been trying (note, trying) to use them from a dried-and-rehydrated state instead of a moist (fresh from the tube) state, or it might have to deal with formulation.

branching out. watercolor brands and mediums.

Right now I’m primarily using Winsor & Newton, with one Grumbacher and one M. Graham (which I love — I’m just not sure if the ❀ is a property of the pigment [PY3: Arylide Yellow] or the rest of the paint! This is a brand which uses honey in its formulation as a humectant [do NOT eat it!], which could be why the color blossoms so freely).

I’ve also relatively recently gotten a couple of Daniel Smith colors and two Holbeins (Lamp Black, and Isoindolinone Yellow Deep [PY110]), but I haven’t been able to play with them decently, yet. It’s possible that a bit of an added watercolor medium (Ox Gall? Gum Arabic?) might be able to at least help the paints adhere better, let alone be more brilliant. But I (obviously!) haven’t researched this, yet.

Cerulean Blue Chromium (PB36) from Daniel Smith, in particular, granulates really strongly when mixed with Winsor Yellow (PY154, Benzimidazolone Yellow). I threw the test page out because there was too much risk of the [toxic: cobalt-based] pigment falling off and scattering, plus it looked horrible. I have photos of it, but they’re not great, and I’m not sure I knew what I was doing in the first place.

I’m also thinking that I will likely want to branch out from Winsor & Newton Professional grade. They’re fine to learn with (their tiny [5ml] tubes mean a lower initial investment for higher-quality paints than student-grade), but there are other brands and colors which could be more pleasant to work with, and to view over time.

And you can see my endless search for useful yellow pigments from the above (not to mention my initial green-leaning yellow: my Watercolor professor had us get Aureolin [PY40: Cobalt Yellow] which I hate largely for its toxicity and impermanence combined with its cost…though it does make nice graded mixes, in the short term).

don’t judge me πŸ˜€

thought shift: from permanence to ephemerality

I just have enough experience to know that if I’m working in Illustration or in an illustrative style, I will probably want to go for colors which are vivid and truly transparent…but that transparency comes with a price, which is the potential of having artwork that only exists temporarily, in the non-digital world. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, online (or in print).

At the same time, I still feel that this hybrid approach is more flexible than a born-digital approach, but I don’t want to alienate people with my feelings on that. They’re largely based on personal experience, and I’m very aware my personal experience has bias. Maybe if and when I can compose a defensible argument to one end or another, for a reason that is important enough to broach, I might say something, but otherwise, I’m not interested in causing disturbance.

It’s kind of interesting, though: shifting from a mindspace of “will this painting last for the next 600 years?” to “am I OK if this thing I’m working on biodegrades soon?” I mean, it’s kind of a different approach! But then, in my Digital Archives class, I’m learning that digital information is ephemeral by nature.

I wonder how long I’ve been working on this draft? πŸ™‚