I hadn’t painted with watercolor in a long time, and I decided to treat myself with new paints.
I also decided to try a new brand for the bulk of my purchases. I chose a higher-end brand that I’d never used before and filled my cart with loads of new, shiny tubes of painting loveliness.
Paints arrived, and I was all ready to begin flinging paint. I chose new tubes of Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine, Cadmium Orange and a bright yellow.
After drawing my composition, laying in lots of juicy wet-on-wet washes of color and mixing the colors on the paper, I stood back and waited for the background to dry. I was very disappointed with the results. I wasn’t disappointed in the way the paint covered the paper or how it dried into interesting gradations and mixtures of color. I was totally disappointed with the resulting colors.
The Alizarin Crimson was fine, and so was the Cadmium yellow. However, the French Ultramarine Blue was nothing like the old brand I had enjoyed so much. It was far brighter, and when it blended with the Alizarin, it didn’t have the truly dark hue I was anticipating. It is also grainier than my tried and true brand and has a thick, impasto look where I used it in a very dark wash.
I also discovered that the Payne’s Grey was a flat grey. It was so lifeless compared to my old brand, which is vibrant and has a blue cast. I’ve decided I need to go through each of my new paints and create a color chart to see which tubes I’ll need to replace with my old standby brand.
Paint Colors Vary Between Brands
Every manufacturer has its own formulations for their colors. There is no universal standard for hues of paint, and there is a great deal of discrepancy between brands.
The very best way to buy paint is to see the color in person before buying it. Look at friends and acquaintances paintings and ask what specific colors and brands they are using. Looking at a color chart just isn’t the same, especially if you’re looking at an on-line color chart. There’s just too much disparity between monitors and how true the colors show on the screen.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to buy the smaller size of paint when you’re auditioning a new color. I’m stuck with at least a couple of tubes of paint that aren’t what I want on my palette. Sure, I’ll use them eventually, but I’ve still wasted money on paint I don’t need. My old brand was a good, professional brand, but I wanted to try out another manufacturer in my quest for the ‘perfect watercolor paint.’