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Paint Talk, Part I: Lightfastness

Sep 23, 2015 1:48:43 PM

Colorful paints

There are many technical terms used to describe the properties of paint. A little chemistry know-how can help you become a better painter, but don’t worry—we’re not talking about balancing chemical equations or memorizing the periodic table here! This ongoing series of mini-articles will help you get to know your medium on a deeper level.

What is Lightfastness?

Have you ever left construction paper near a sunny window and found that the color became faded in months or even weeks? Maybe you’ve left a plastic item in your yard, or a magazine in your car and later found it bleached by the sun.

Pigments, paper, plastic toys, fabric, paint and other items react to sunlight in different ways. Materials that maintain their colors over time are “lightfast” and lightfastness can be important when purchasing art supplies.

Some pigments and paints are described as being lightfast because these products are resistant to fading from light exposure. Art products that have a lightfastness rating of “A” are super resistant to fading from light exposure and will not incur color change or fading for up to 100 years when stored in museum conditions. Of course, paintings should never be stored in direc...

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Comments | Posted in Product Guide By K. McDermott

Paint Tubes

Whether you’re painting with oil or acrylic, it can be hard to decide which paints to use for a project. Not only are there many variations of each color, there are different series of paints with significant differences in price range. This quick guide explains the differences between three grades of paint.

First, it helps to understand what paint is. Paint is pigment suspended in a liquid substance called binder. Binder is a vehicle for the pigment and can be made of different substances. The binder in most oil paint is linseed oil; the vehicle for watercolors is, of course, water. Acrylics are sometimes referred to as “water-based” because they are held together by an emulsion of water and plastic binders called polymers. Unlike oil paint, any water-based paint can be thinned or diluted with water.

There are more binders and fillers in craft and studio paints, so these paints tend to have greater color shift and less opacity. Color shift means the color of the paint is more easily diluted and altered when two or more colors are mixed together. There is less color shift when mixing artist quality paints together.

Craft Paint

The thin consistency of craft paint makes it versatile for ...

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Comments | Posted in Product Guide By K. McDermott

What is Gouache?

Gouache is pronounced “gwash.” It rhymes with “squash” and it’s simply another type of watercolor paint, with some unusual properties. It does not become absorbed into paper in the same way watercolor and other paints do. It remains on the paper’s surface, in a thick and opaque layer. Gouache is a French word that originates from the Italian “guazzo,” which literally means “water color.” It was first used in medieval illuminated manuscripts and gained popularity among French and Italian painters in 18th century. It was most often used in creating decorative art or landscapes.

In the 20th century, gouache became a popular medium for commercial artists because it photographed well and could be used to make crisp images and lettering. It was a reliable medium for reproducing advertisements before digital design.

Watercolor and gouache both consist of the same basic ingredients: a natural or synthetic pigment, gum arabic binder, and preservatives. The major difference between the two paints is that the particles of pigment in gouache are larger and the ratio of pigment to binder is higher. Most gouaches also have chalk added to the formula to further increase opacity. Like watercolors, g...

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Comments | Posted in Product Guide By K. McDermott

The Plaza Paper Guide

Aug 13, 2015 1:49:00 PM

When shopping for art supplies, you might find yourself in the paper aisle (like the one at the Plaza Art in Rockville, Maryland, pictured at the end of this article) and think, Why are there so many different types of paper? Isn't it all just...paper?

There are some big differences in paper quality and if you're a beginning watercolorist or printmaker, it might be a little overwhelming to try and figure out which paper is best for which project. Some paper is quite expensive, and with good reason. This guide will give you a little background on the science and history of paper, so next time you need to buy paper, you'll know what all the labels mean:

What’s the deal with expensive paper?

One of the greatest misconceptions about paper is that all paper is made from trees. Paper can be made from almost any fibrous plant material containing cellulose but fine watercolor, printmaking and drawing papers are almost always made from cotton rag. In fact, paper in Europe was made exclusively from vellum, linen or cotton rags until the mid-1800s.

Why use fine papers?

Fine papers are well worth their cost. Cotton rag is better for professional work because it holds up more reliably over time than...

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Comments | Posted in Product Guide By K. McDermott
Items 11 to 14 of 14 total