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. Paint Talk: Part I is about Lightfastness.
How to Interpret Artists’ Quality Paint Labels
Have you ever wondered what all the symbols and numbers on your paint tubes mean? Reading your paint labels can be like reading a nutrition label on a food package—there’s a lot of information there, but what to make of it? Many of the numbers on your paint tubes represent standardized information about the paint's chemical properties. For example, if you're trying to match a particular color across brands, and each company uses a different proprietary color name, you can match the same color index number between brands. If you're looking at Studio or Craft paint, you might not be so lucky—only the highest quality paints list all of the paints' attributes. Information can vary from brand to brand, but most labels displayed on artists’ quality paint reveal the following information: