View Full Version : Just Curious: Why are people not interested in light fast testing?

Cariboo Bill
01-28-2013, 09:40 AM
I thought I might ask Palette Talk people why it is that we are having so much trouble getting participation in the WWWTP (World Wide Watercolor Test Project). It seems to me that we should all be interested in getting a thorough update of Bruce MacEvoy's work so that we can have confidence in the quality of our paintings. However we still have fewer that 10 people testing their watercolors and though I am not about to give up it is a bit of a puzzle.

So I know that you tend to ignore these posts of mine and let them drop to the bottom of the page with a "0" beside them in a community where many people almost automatically hop into a post that has "0" and provide some feedback just to be polite, however that doesn't seem to be the case with watercolor testing threads.

So I would really apprecite it if you could help me understand why it so hard to convince people do the watercolor testing of the paints in their own palette?


01-28-2013, 10:20 AM
Personally, while I am interested in the project, I don't need one more thing on my plate to focus on. There is just too much going on in life right now with the book stuff and commissions among other non-art things. So that is why I did not choose to join in.

01-28-2013, 10:20 AM
I can't speak for others, I can only speak for myself as to why I am not testing what it sitting on my palettle.

1.I'm trusting that the manufacturers are releasing information on their pigments that is as accrate as is necessary for my purposes. Everything is sprayed with UV sealers.

2..As a hobby painter, my paintings are done for my personal enjoyment and usually casually tossed in a portfolio or given as simple gifts.

3.There are so many variables in this experiement when we have have so many testers, in so many environments, using different papers, different (albeit similar) application methods, and exposure settings.

Add in the fact that the vary properties of the pigments may change when mixed with other pigments of other brands, something that NO other manufacturer has ever tested. I have 90 different pigments with a couple duplicates in different manufacturers. If I only mix ONE pigment with Other pigment that's a factorial of 95, which is (rounding down) 1 followed by 148 zeros (1x10 to the 148) different samples. Now add that we usually mix more than two paints together, in different ratios, opaques acting on transparents, the numbers are unimaginable.:eek: :eek:

I promise my GulfCoast Southern Sun with it's 340 days of sun and glazed windows is far and away more brutal on paint than Char's Southern exposure.

4. I move every 24 months, and not just around the corner.

5. My space is too limited to have samples lying around.

So there you have it. Time, Continuity, and convenience. (A couple of my points are mixed out of order, but WC is burping and won't let me cut and paste to fix it)

01-28-2013, 10:32 AM
Hi Bill,

For me, I decided last fall that I was going to do my own testing beginning in May - in the Handprint site MacEvoy recommends 3 months testing when the sunlight hours are at a maximum to facilitate at least 800 hours potential exposure, even on cloudy days uv light penetrates through. I plan on placing a big order of paints in March or April; mostly W&N along with some M Graham and Daniel Smith.

That being said, I am interested in the results here and will certainly reference them for myself. My schedule doesn't quite fit with yours so I haven't acted on your pleas but have monitored them with interest and will continue to do so.

Although my plan has been for my personal edification I can willingly share them with the community but my parameters are what I have set and fall a little to the right of what you are looking for. So not to confuse the issue with what you are trying to do I will test my selections to my parameters and keep them separate.

Good luck with the testing and I hope you don't feel too discouraged by the lack of response - I am interested in the results that are achieved.


01-28-2013, 10:54 AM
Hi Bill,

I admire your stubborness not to give up on this. Its a great thing to do. EVERYONE should do this. The problem is its best to do this test during the summer months while the UV is at its strongest and this only applies to the southern hemisphere at the moment.

All my paints have been tested by me for light fastness before I put them on my pallete but I am a professional and sell my work so its very important for me that I know that what I am painting and the colours that I am very carefully choosing will stay that way for as long as possible. Sorry, I do not have results photographed so I cannot share other than to say which were highly fugitive which I have already done. I tended to test each paint as it came in the house so would just do one or two at a time as I bought new colours and modified my palette.

It would be far better for this to be an 'open project' that possibly could be 'stickied' by one of the mods at the top of the learning zone for people to add their results to when they completed them whenever that would be. At the very least give people a full year to complete the test (two would be better) and then compile the results rather than just a month or two. I know from experience paints that I thought were ok were not when re tested during the high UV months.

and yes for the hobbiests I know that you are just painting for fun but the manufacturers will never change if not 'encouraged to' by ALL us artists. If we keep buying these paints they will keep selling them. So PLEASE for the sake of the reputation of watercolour even if you are not prepared to actually test your own paints dont buy the highly figitive ones even if they are on sale.


Scene Chaser
01-28-2013, 11:14 AM
Hi Bill,
I didn't mean to ignore you, but I only use about eight paints and they've all been tested to be quite lightfast many years ago. I tested them myself. I go way back when we thought Alizarin Crimson was permanent. Even the great Irving Shapiro argued with me about it's lightfastness.
I also have a book called "The Wilcox Guide to The Best Watercolor Paints." It gives the manufacturer, the pigments used and the lightfastness rating for thousands of paints. There have been other books out as well, so for us who have been at it for a long time, we really don't need another test.
But I think it's a good project for those who really want to understand on their own just how good their paints are.

01-28-2013, 11:24 AM
I'm like Bill; most of the paints I use are good or best lightfast; that's not to say that I don't own a couple of fugitive ones. I would not use them on anything other than for myself.

Time, like Carole and Caryl expressed is my main reason not to participate. I enjoy reading your thread but I just have too much going on now to do it.

Ona also hit on a good point; it's not summer here therefore not the best time to do this kind of exercise.

I'm sorry if you got your feelings hurt; I hope those who are participating will share their findings. Thanks for putting this together.

01-28-2013, 11:32 AM
I suppose lots of people are either unconcerned or rely on the information provided by manufacturers Bill.


01-28-2013, 11:57 AM
Hi Bill!

While I am interested and appreciate the effort those who are participating are putting in for the rest of us, I live in the great northwet...where winter sun is a rarity. In my home my windows are all shaded, and doublepaned with UV protection. In my studio my windows face the wrong way to get good exposure. When you factor all that in with the busy life I am presently living...I simply don't think I really am a good prospect for the project. I barely get to spend adequate time in my studio for painting purposes at present.
I do look at the threads and am interested though!!

01-28-2013, 01:15 PM
Simply put ,whether a Pro or a Hobbyist , what a Shame it would be if your Best work either ,left to your children, sits on your walls or is sold to a buyer , Gradually Disappered because you didn't care whether your paint would last on the paper .
It happens quicker than you think sometimes .
:wink2: :wave:

01-28-2013, 01:20 PM
Hi Bill,

I think your project is a great one but I don't have a good place to test the paints. A few years ago we replaced all the windows in our house and got ones that filter UV so my results would not be accurate.

and yes for the hobbiests I know that you are just painting for fun but the manufacturers will never change if not 'encouraged to' by ALL us artists. If we keep buying these paints they will keep selling them. So PLEASE for the sake of the reputation of watercolour even if you are not prepared to actually test your own paints dont buy the highly figitive ones even if they are on sale.

I second this!


01-28-2013, 02:00 PM
Bill, I think you've started and effort to secure a valuable set of data, I for one don't have time in my day to add a project. I'm a full time caregiver for my stroke survivor wife. I manage to squeeze in some 1/2 hour segments during the day for myself, but quite frankly between the laundrys, cooking, constant doctors appointments, therapies, medication distributions and all the other things it takes to run a household and care for my wife I just can't do it. I paint on her good days in between preparing meals and on her bad days I squeeze in a rest for these 68 year old bones when I can.

I never gave it a thought till I read Anne's response but we had windows put in several years ago with anti UV properties. Sorry for your frustration and wish you the best in your effort.


01-28-2013, 02:48 PM
Bill, I probably haven't posted because I started painting about 20 years ago and did a fair bit of research then. Now I have the basic colours that work for me and I tend not to go for the "fashion colours"'

Anyone who has been to my house will verify that I have a very bright and sunny living room with paintings sitting right smack in the middle of the hot summer sun and my paintings look as bright and colourful as when I painted them.

I use mostly Winsor & Newton and DaVinci paints. I think both, but definitely W & N, have colour charts available at the art supply store where they give you every possible information about their products. THEY are the ones who would be losing customers if they lied, so if they say it is colourfast, I would believe them. If they say the colourfastness is iffy, then you take your chances.

So, my suggestion to you would be to buy good quality Name Brands and read
what THEY have to say about it.

P.S.: I just pulled out my W & N Chart, there are some colours that are "AA extremely permanent", others A permanent and B (Opera Rose) moderately durable". So, what does that tell you about that Oh so pretty colour Opera Rose???????????????????????


01-28-2013, 02:59 PM
Simple, keep Watercolour paintings away from direct sunlight or brightly lit rooms. It is a fact of life that Watercolours will fade with time, if one cannot accept this, use another medium



01-28-2013, 03:05 PM
:wave: I am only a simple technican ;) and belife in the tests of manufacturers

But I know the bigger problem is the paper - its becomes yellow and fragile

If a client ask me about it - I tell him the brand I use and : "Dont hang it on a place exposed to the sun " :wave:

01-28-2013, 03:19 PM
I wasn't putting a negative spin on hobbyist painters. I was simply stating my time commitment to the palette. I of course only use quality pigments with well reported lightfastness ratings.

01-28-2013, 03:58 PM
Bill, I live in a condo complex that won't allow us to put anything in the windows.

When I first started painting with watercolors two years ago I did my own test with some of the cheaper brands (Artists Loft, Prang and Koi). That was enough to convince me that if I didn't want ghost paintings I'd better buy some decent paint :-)

I am amazed when I see professional artists using fugitive paints. There's no reason for that any more since there are good substitutes, especially the quinacridones. I'm always very frustrated when I go to art museums and only find one or two watercolors because they have to ration the amount of UV exposure they get.


Quinacridone Gold
01-28-2013, 04:54 PM
I am going to get them up by 1 feb as requested, but I do fear that my windows, which are slightly tinted, will make them invalid. However, since I have many paintings in my own house, I may as well know they are safe!
I am testing Daniel Smith, about 90 colours, in the Australian Summer. I am doing two charts, one for exposure, one for safe keeping.

01-28-2013, 05:09 PM
Even though there may be some duplication of effort, I think it's a good thing. Redundancies in our results would confirm one way or the other whether our pigments are lightfast. As a teacher, I want to be able to state with confidence what I now suspect to be true to my Students.

I don't think it matters that we're beginning in the winter months since the tests will be subjected to light for a full year.

Why would anyone trust manufacturers who're still selling pigments that are known to be fugitive?

01-28-2013, 05:26 PM
I tell my students who have UV protected windows to put their test strips in clear plastic bags and tape to the Outside of a window or door.

I agree totally Char about trusting manufacturers.

01-28-2013, 05:46 PM
Why would anyone trust manufacturers who're still selling pigments that are known to be fugitive?

I have utterly no problem with such as long as they tell you that any given product they are selling is fugitive. Not everyone is a fine artist intent on hanging a painting in a museum for a millenia or two, but so long as they give enough information for you to make an informed choice, they have properly fulfilled their obligation to the artist.

There is a problem in that they tell you honestly and accurately. Or they may not tell you accurately enough. I'm more concerned about my watercolor pencils than my watercolor paints. I don't know the actual pigment in them, I only have the manufactuer's self rating which is still too vague for me (Faber-Castell's *** stars = 7 or 8 on the BWS, ** stars = 5 or 6, and * star I wouldn't even think about using anyway). And Caran D'Ache doesn't even link their 1-3 stars to the Blue Wool Scale, so who knows what those really mean. So currently, WC pencils are restricted to my sketchbooks, but what I'm preparing for test is those rather than my Daniel Smith, W&N, or M Graham tube colors.

01-28-2013, 07:04 PM
Ooh, Hoplite! I think that's a GREAT idea! I have pencils, too, and haven't given a thought to testing them... Mine are Faber Castelle...

01-28-2013, 08:22 PM
Sorry Bill, I think the project would be an interesting one, but if the last few years is any guide the only thing I will be able to test - even in high summer, is the resistance to mould in a damp environment :(

I live in wettest Wales and the last few years we didn't get any sun to speak of, last year we had a brief two weeks of sun in march - the weather men tried to scare us with warnings of drought, oh how we laughed! :lol: Then constant rain for the rest of the year, Wales is now suffering floods as the ground is so sodden that a shower produces floods. My yard which is paved is constantly green with algae, something I've not seen before.

Last summer we had the heating on in mid-August - it was that cold! :eek:

A better project for us might be building an Ark :evil:

I wish you well with the project and will watch the results with interest.

One query I have is whether different papers will be recorded as well as the different paints? I feel sure this could affect the outcome.

Cariboo Bill
01-29-2013, 10:53 AM
Wow! Thank you all for helping me to understand. I guess I have been a bit frustrated but not with hurt feelings just rather a curious intent and I appreciate that all of you have taken the time to respond. Like all of you I am a bit busy today and can't even begin to respond to your individual situations that I would like to.

However a few general replies:

1. The light fast test will be going on for a minimum of 2 years, not that people have to keep their test sheets in the window for the second year if they don't want, but since I am going to keep trying to get participants at the start of every month until December (that just shows you how stubborn, maybe obsinate us Canadians can get) it means that even those who set out paints this month will be moving into the second year before a full year of exposure is completed.

2. If you have done your own lightfast testing it would be great if you would provide us with the key results (those paints that faded) and the length of time you had the test up and the date of when you did it). If you are doing testing yourself if you could extend your test time to 4 months then it would fit in with one of our key decision times and could be simply added to the results.

3. I know that there are huge variables in the testing situation and that we are far from a thorough "scientific experiment" but if we accumulate a whole batch of us with Aureolin PY 40 as fading and fugitive that is sufficient I think for artist's to make decisions with. IF paper is fading it shouldn't if it is professional grade, acid free, and if it is we really want to know.

4. Testing behind UV protected windows isn't a problem, it gives us another kind of information, does Alizarin Crimson PR 83 do OK when protected by UV glass? If so then we can know that using UV glass in our framing would add another level of protection. Alternately if we show that all over the world the standard professional paints do just fine when exposed to 4 months, a year of light then that says, use the good paints and don't worry about the extra expense of UV glass.

5. I think CharM is right, W&N one of the most respected paint manufacturer's sells fugitive paints knowing that they are fugitive, why do this? The obvious reason is that they sell and make money for them. They sell and make money for them because we still have a huge number of workshop instructors telling their brand new to watercolor painting students to go out and buy Aureolin and Alizarin Crimson because they are the best paints to make great paintings. Also I can bet that when the next watercolor magazines come out you will be able to find an article by a fabulous artists who uses fugitive colors.

6. Some manufacturer's hide behind what they call "museum quality" pigments. The fact of the matter is that the museum standard for watercolors is to keep them in darkness as much as possible and not putting them out for more than 3 months in a year.

So once again, thank you all for sharing the wide range of reasons the testing isn't gaining the traction I would like to see. I will quit harassing you in Palette Talk except to provide a reminder of project reports that are posted in the Learning Zone. The Learning Zone, however, will still be subject to weekly posts on the WWWTP in one way or another probably until August as I try to get people testing specific manufacturer's that we haven't covered, like for example the Joe Miller Signature Series which are being marketed as "a return to the beauty that only natural pigments can provide. Made with pure, authentic mineral pigments that are mined directly from the earth." Yes, sure Joe but are they lightfast?

Thanks all

01-29-2013, 10:54 AM
I have 2 test sheets in my window. One with ordinary glass and one with UV glass and one sheet in a darkened drawer.
They are colours I use and there are duplicates of the same pigment but different brands. I am conforming to the rules (1" square of concentrated pigment and a 1 x 2" oblong of pigment diluted 1:8) and I will post the results of my test.
I have, however, always been skeptical about this exercise. I do not need the results of other peoples tests because I have Hillary Page's book and the updates. Her tests are consistent across the range which we, as a collective, could never hope to achieve a definitive result as everyone seems to have their own idea of how the swatches should be painted.
How many participants have you got for the WWWTP Bill - Ten?
210 inmates wanted to air their views on the mundane subject of "To Trace or not to Trace".
That should tell you something!!!!

01-29-2013, 02:04 PM
I think for me it is a collection of a lot of the above reasons as to why I didn't get involved but me not getting involved does not mean that I don't appreciate and value what you Bill and others are doing.Very much so.I also wouldn't agree that because only 10 are involved as compared to 210 in the tracing debate that this implies lack of interest as there is a real difference between 10 actually carrying out tests and 210 discussing something.Sure when Bruce McEvoy did his testing,there was only one !!
I can pop in here and have the time to contribute to a discussion but right now don't have the time nor energy due to health issues to get involved in testing and like Aderynglas, the last time I saw sun was in the movies.
I did put Perm Aliz Crimson in the south facing window some months ago and will have a look at that later in the year but even that might be not be much help as I hope to be moving before year end.
I myself don't use any pigments that are even remotely questionable and so don't even have them other than the Perm Aliz and would have to be totally convinced about it before I'd even use it or buy another 5ml tube and my work won't be sold any day soon.
As for the artists using them,I found from buying the books and DVDs that it is all about show biz.The paintings look great in the book/DVD when the likes of Opera is used but we never see them later.The only thing I can do is not support these artists in any way from here on it having done so unwittingly in the past.
Lastly and interestingly, when an artist I know posted a comment on Townhouse Films' Youtube page promoting Jean Haines, questioning her use of Opera, the comment was deleted and the artist was barred from commenting further on the Townhouse Films page ! So that tells you all you need to know about Townhouse Films?

Sit and Fidget
01-29-2013, 02:09 PM
Because I know that paintings under glass, kept indoors, in ordinary bog-standard paint will last a heck of a lot longer than I will. ;)

01-29-2013, 02:36 PM
At this time of the year, there is hardly any sun in my part of the world... So it is a bad period for using sunlight as a testing tool...

I have some testing from last year for local brands of paint (DeSerres) but they have cancelled the line....

I am using mainly DaVinci and Rembrandt paints and there is a lot of good information about lightfastness...

01-29-2013, 02:45 PM
I have also avoided this discussion as I can give you reasons why I am not participating but it revolves around laziness and probably would not satisfy your curiosity. It is good you are not taking this collective "rejection" personally (or even as "rejection").

I think the reality is that in any volunteer situation, 1% of the people do 99% of the work. As someone else has pointed out, it is not that your effort is not appreciated, it is. It is just that people are people.

Enough of the philosophy and thank you for trying.

01-29-2013, 02:52 PM
Because I know that paintings under glass, kept indoors, in ordinary bog-standard paint will last a heck of a lot longer than I will. ;)
I dont understand...but you are selling your work.... :confused:

unrelated to the above....like i said in my first post in this thread if fugitive paints are around and manufacturers have them for sale some people will buy them and if some people buy them the manufaturers will keep producing them. Some manufacturers will also claim they are lightfast when they are not. None of this does the reputation of watercolour any good.

Bill, when i tested for lightfastness the only two I had problems with were aliz crimson and rose madder. I ditched the rose madder and now use perm aliz (all winsor and newton) I tested perm aliz for 4 months in a south facing window with no visible change. I dont have aur yellow but to prove a point to a local teacher of watercolour here I made a test strip from her paint palette and put it in my south facing window and after only 1 month it had changed, not enough to visibly see unless you had the control next to it but this was after only one month :( to the best of my knowledge the teacher still uses it :crying:

01-29-2013, 04:01 PM
Ona, I'm hoping to get an aureolin sample to include with my next set of tests going up on February 1st.

01-29-2013, 04:19 PM
Thanks for that Ona.Am pleased to hear there was no change in the Perm Aliz

01-29-2013, 04:21 PM
Ona, I'm hoping to get an aureolin sample to include with my next set of tests going up on February 1st.
i wish i had kept my sample now but i gave it back to the teacher as i dont use it at all and thinking it might persuade her to ditch it and substitute another yellow in her student gift palette but ... :crying:

01-29-2013, 04:26 PM
5. I think CharM is right, W&N one of the most respected paint manufacturer's sells fugitive paints knowing that they are fugitive, why do this? The obvious reason is that they sell and make money for them. They sell and make money for them because we still have a huge number of workshop instructors telling their brand new to watercolor painting students to go out and buy Aureolin and Alizarin Crimson because they are the best paints to make great paintings. Also I can bet that when the next watercolor magazines come out you will be able to find an article by a fabulous artists who uses fugitive colors.

It's called supply and demand, and a lot of manufacturers produce what their clientel wants. It's the duty of the manufacturer to warn of the limitations of their paints - if they don't, then they need to be castigated and avoided. If the artist uses the paints for something that has archival demands (fine art intended for permanent display as opposed to illustration and design that don't), that's the artist that needs to be called on the spot, not the manufacturer. Winsor & Newton watercolors are not used exclusively by fine artists - why in the world should they be singled out when say, Dr. Ph Martin's Radiant Concentrated Watercolors are made from dyes and are pretty much across the board fugitive? Artists need to educate themselves and know what is appropriate for their work and what isn't. Instructors need to apply a rather strict standard to themselves in telling their students about the issues.

M. Graham offers Alizarin Crimson, as does Daniel Smith in addition to Winsor & Newton. Graham notes it as ASTM LF III, and Smith calls it "fugitive". W&N rates it a B. You are pretty much warned by all three that it doesn't meet any sort of demanding lightfast standards. The problem is far more with Aureolin. ASTM calls it LFII - "very good". All independent testing is saying otherwise. Daniel Smith uses the ASTM rating. W&N Newton gives it an A rating, though a footnote says it is less dependeable in washes. M. Graham doesn't have an Aureolin last I checked (checking now - nope, not listed). The real trouble is that it isn't one of those borderline things - where one batch might vary enough from the other to give different results. Daniel Smith is regurgitating ASTM ratings - is that enough? How trustworthy are the ASTM ratings? W&N ostensibly makes their own tests - yeah, read the fine print and that should give you caution, but why give it an A when the independent tests are consistently giving such universal bad results? And the thing is, I rarely find that Handprint's ratings vary all that much from W&Ns, and so far as I can tell, W&N tries to give you accurate information and doesn't try to whitewash things just to get a sale.

Which is the whole point of Bruce MacAvoy encouraging everyone to make their own tests, such as Bill is trying to organize. Yeah, it sure is a whole lot easier to get such from MacAvoy or Hilary Page, but when one of them is telling you even his own information only goes so far, maybe you should take his advice.

01-29-2013, 05:52 PM
DS, yes they do!
It'a Aureolin - Cobalt Yellow. I have a few tubes of it.
Series 3 Lightfastness II

O Solis
01-29-2013, 07:11 PM
Hi Bill,

I've been testing the lightfastness of Yasutomo Authentic Chinese Watercolor Paints. Here in the western USA we get a lot of sun (too much sun as far as I'm concerned). The test strip has been hanging over my garage door for over about 3 months. So far so good. No fade. We've even had some rain and the paint hasn't run. That's because the paint uses a glue as a binder. No mold either. So far I'm very pleased.

I haven't joined the testing because the price for a set of 12 tubes runs about 8 dollars. If I were to mention this at the outset it would pretty much seem to others that these are a low grade brand or worse, a student grade. So I pretty much decided not to bother. Sorry about this.

Good luck with the tests. If you are interested I'll post my tests strips in March or April. Low costs or not, these are very rich paints and have been a real pleasure to use. Plus the costs are such that I can paint without abandon (heck I'm working on a squid painting on index card stock at the moment).

01-29-2013, 07:18 PM
One of my Intermediate Students has PY40 on her palette and insists that there's nothing wrong with it because one of her other teachers used it. When I advised her that it was quite fugitive with a tendancy to turn brown, she was kind of upset. That's when I decided that I had to have the proof of the pudding right in my own hands... it's going to take a year, but I won't depend on anyone else's say so from now on.

Bruce McEvoy's data has not been updated in 8 years. His information is not current and he has not tested any of the new pigments that have been introduced. I respect the enormous amount of information he's made available to us, but keeping everything up to date would be a full time job I suspect...

Hilary Paige is now sponsored by Daniel Smith. I respect her knowledge and use her colour theory book, but she's still being "sponsored"... Same goes for Jeanne Dobie... she authorized a reprint of her book, but didn't update any of her information! :confused:

And, I don't trust the Manufacturers' ratings for the very reasons cited in Hoplite's post. At the end of the day, they are in business to make money. So, if we're buying then they're selling! I can't blame them for that... I just have to do my own verifications... :)

Scene Chaser
01-29-2013, 07:41 PM
Pigments and colors are two different things. Pigments are used to create colors. If a pigment mixed into the color is fugitive, don't buy that color. Pigments don't change, colors do.

01-29-2013, 07:54 PM
It will be interesting to see if geographical factors are significant. I have tested my paints here in canada (ontario) but I do wonder how both the paint colours and the paper fare over time in hotter, sunnier climates and more humid ones too.

01-29-2013, 08:09 PM
Read above post incorrectly. Sorry.

01-29-2013, 08:13 PM
I print up a certificate to go with commissions that says all paints used were ASTM Lightfast 1 rating. I also give instructions to frame in UV protective glass.

If you're doing primarily illustrative work for scanning and printing, then it really doesn't matter. But personally I feel that when I am selling originals to a client there should be some sort of disclosure (paint, paper, glass type, etc) just like there would be for other quality consumer products. Educating art buyers is a great opportunity to help keep the standards high.


01-30-2013, 02:33 PM
a good friend of mine from Art colony Chris is testing Mission Gold paints and writing about it on her own blog. Here is the link to her observations after less then 1 month.... this clearly shows you that you cannot completely trust manufacturers guidlines


01-30-2013, 10:05 PM
I'll be starting my test swatches either March or April. Right now my windows get very little sun, and they get condensation when I cook.

01-31-2013, 08:04 AM
Simple, keep Watercolour paintings away from direct sunlight or brightly lit rooms. It is a fact of life that Watercolours will fade with time, if one cannot accept this, use another medium



Keep them under glass
And do not train spot lights on the paintings

Trust W/N that they do not lie on their test
And compare them to Bruce McEnvoy

Will these tests create a difference in testing quality that will be that more accurate than HandPrint?

01-31-2013, 09:37 AM
Will these tests create a difference in testing quality that will be that more accurate than HandPrint?
They will be more up to date than Handprint's are, Neeman. At the bottom of the section on Lightfastness of Watercolor Paints at Handprint is this line:

Last revised 08.01.2005 • © 2005 Bruce MacEvoy

Why wouldn't they be just as accurate if the people doing them use the technique Bill has put forth as the protocol for the testing?


01-31-2013, 09:46 AM
I am interested in it, but it really doesn't worry me much. Why? Because my work is not yet good enough for people to want it preserved for decades! My family and friends like it, but museums are not clambering for it! Saying that, I do try to use the best materials I can, I just don't lose sleep over it. I do lose sleep over how much paint I must use before I die! :lol:

01-31-2013, 09:50 AM
Simple, keep Watercolour paintings away from direct sunlight or brightly lit rooms. It is a fact of life that Watercolours will fade with time, if one cannot accept this, use another medium



I rather use paints that are unchanged after two summers in a southfacing window, than using those who ara almost gone after two months.

Cariboo Bill
01-31-2013, 10:01 AM
Again thanks to all of you for the discussion, lots of ideas and thoughts and it helps to give me a sense of what is possible.

01-31-2013, 07:27 PM
I feel that the test strips must be consistant if the results are to be accurate.
A pea size blob of paint from the tube watered down with 2 drops of water so that it can be painted into a 1" square - then drop an additional 6 - 8drops of water into the mix and paint the adjoining 1 x 2"oblong.
The usual small graduated strips, half covered up, may be OK for personal fugitive testing but the test strips of this exercise need to be consistant with one sheet in the window and the duplicate in a dark drawer. Do you concur?

02-01-2013, 01:09 AM
It's 1st Feb and I'm still looking for a waterproof frame. Why? Because there's no glass on the windows, only venetian blinds... the real old wooden ones that leave gaps for the cold winter air to stream in while I'm covered in woolens... (this past winter, Calcutta experienced one of the coldest seasons in the last hundred years).

I'll have to put the test sheet on the roof, where the monsoons will hit it in a few months, so I need a good waterproof thing that also needs to be sturdy so the hawks nesting on the nearby palm trees won't be attracted to it.

02-03-2013, 03:09 PM
Just by chance,when looking through a Jacksons catalogue at the range of W&N artist quality watercolours,I see that out of 84 paints listed,only 33 are "extremely permanent" with a large amount of those being earth colours.The remainder are "permanent" except for 3 which are "moderately durable".So what the difference is between "extremely permanent" and "permanent" is the question.

02-04-2013, 06:28 AM
Exactly Larry. What does it all mean? Several high profile artists are still using known fugitive paints, just look at the way Alazarin Crimson PR83 is rated. This ranges from permanent to fugitive, but the only one who said `fugitive' was Daniel Smith. How many read the ratings anyway, even what some professional artists recommend cannot be taken as gospel as they don't know any more than you or I, less in some instances.

I'm afraid that asking a large number of artists to test the paints spread over many countries and conditions will not produce results that might be termed definitive, especially as I doubt they will all tackle it in the identical manner. Read Handprint on this subject and if you are that keen then follow his methods. I've done some small tests involving a number of reds - six months in s south facing window - and had no noticeable fading.

Th manufacturers all claim to carry out their own lightfastness tests yet still offer a few - more than a few in certain cases - dubious paints. I believe the leading makes are reasonably reliable. After all if you hang your watercolours in full sunlight then trouble might well ensue.

What can be said with certainty is that all the major makes have improved their ranges considerably in recent years and many of the dubious pigments have gone, but a reasonable dose of scepticism is necessary when evaluating what they print.


02-04-2013, 07:06 AM
The reason artists should tests their paints is for THEMSELVES to know. Yes, its interesting to listen to others findings but you are the one that works with your own paints. You dont just jump into a car and drive it. You find out about its qualities, the way it works, you learn how best to drive it noot just by reading the manufactuers manual or peoples recommendations. You test drive it yourself. The same should go for the paints you use.. and if you are a teacher like Char and myself its important to be able to recommend paints that you yourself have tested and know the qualities of. I cannot speak for other professional artists. I just know I want to provide a quality product and that applies to my teaching and my paintings.


02-04-2013, 08:53 AM
Whilst agreeing absolutely that only by testing paints ourselves, can we know for definite, there are a couple of issues as I see them.Firstly as Bruce McEvoy mentions,there is no real and definitive way of knowing whether the pigments that one tests today,will in fact be the same pigment quality wise in six months time, and so all we know when we test a pigment today is that this particular batch is good.I know it might seem like splitting hairs,but if the manufacturers are inclined to be dodgy,then why believe that they will continue to use the same supplier of raw material, and if they change,will they tell us?

Whilst slightly different,we have huge row going on in Ireland at present where horse meat has been discovered in burgers and whilst there are far worse food stuffs going around, and lots of people have no problem with eating horse meat,there is a problem when you have been led to believe that you are eating something else.Thankfully I haven't eaten a burger in over twenty years !I also know for example that when a food product says "no added sugar" that doesn't actually mean that there is no added sugar.It just means that no more sugar that was originally in the food before lost in processing,has been added.Says who ? And how?

Somewhere along the way,I have to strike a balance between believing what I have been told and what I sense/know and if W&N or DS make PY151 today with one set of ingredients,we test it and find it okay,then we have to trust that it will be the same set of ingredients used in a year's time.Is testing a strip in a south facing window really telling that much? How many paintings will be hung in a south facing window? I can say with absolute truth, that the strength of the sun in the US is far stronger than that in Ireland,even on our hottest day,so if my strip shows no fading,what does that mean if a strip placed in a south facing window in the US fades? Do I sell my paintings in Ireland only? Will I get away with using a questionable paint in Ireland because the sun is less strong here?

Some time ago I was in touch with Robert Wade who said that although he had "trialed" opera he wouldn't touch it but he himself had no complaints about Permanent Alizarin, nor had heard any complaints of it.Yet Bruce McEvoy still questions it as do others. Jean Haines who is very popular here,uses Opera and despite being asked about it's fugitive nature,makes no apology and says she will continue to use it? I am about to partake in an online course and one of the colours to be used is Alizarin( I am presuming it is Permanent Aliz),so what does one do?

I don't wish to appear to being controversial or to be posing questions just to make an argument but for me, if I were to try and test each of say,even 12 colour palette,I would know how they react over a set period but if some of those colours fade in the US test and mine don't,does that mean that mine will fade ever or will but will take longer?

For me,there is also for me the issue between a score of 8.8 and 7.8 on the Handprints site.Is 8.8 extremely permanent and 7.8 just permanent ? Where is the cut off point for using a paint.He puts scores in the 6.6 's in red as to imply that these are dodgy whilst 6.7 is in black.He questions Perm/Quin Rose when he says "However quinacridone rose, assigned an "excellent" (I) lightfastness by the ASTM, was variable across manufacturers in my own tests, and some brands were clearly less lightfast than PR122."But down among the 6.7's is Da Vinci Alizarin in black whilst the Da Vinci Quin Rose is only .1 above it.Are both safe to use? And is there such a difference between 6.7 and 6.6(other than .1 LOL)
For me personally, the only colour that I am still questioning is Permanent Aliz and professional artist members here have tested it,found it okay as have other professional artists,so I am leaning towards taking it on board.After that,for other pigments, I will take the word of Bruce McEvoy and the members here as testing here in Ireland,with no sun or relatively mild sun,would not prove much to me

02-04-2013, 09:10 AM
Ona, you're so right!

Peter, it's amazing how many Artists don't read the labels on their paint... and they have no idea what the information means, even if they did read it.

Larry, the Manufacturers want to sell paint. Period. They want to make money. Period. They really do not have a vested interest in the outcome of our art. Why in heaven's name would you trust their claims?

Bruce McEvoy's work is outstandingly complete. His dedicated research is invaluable to artists if they bother to read his published results. And, therein lies the rub, eh? If Artists aren't reading the labels on their few tubes of paint, why do you suppose they'd bother with Handprint?

The secondary problem with Handprint is that the data is now about 8 years old. No new pigments have been tested. No reformulations have been tested.

Frankly, if you want to know what works for you, then test what you use in your world. It takes just a few minutes to put together a couple charts (one to hide and one to expose).

Otherwise, continue to believe what others are telling you and just hope for the best.

02-04-2013, 09:18 AM
When paints are tested to ASTM (http://www.astm.org/)standards they are tested in a standard way as defined by the body. If a manufacturer quotes ASTM standard they must have had them tested with the standard testing procedure.


Cariboo Bill
02-04-2013, 09:40 AM
Wonderful discussion that is very useful to have. I think we just have to accept the fact that we are going to have variation in the testing conditions from preparing the test sheets to the amount of actual sunlight exposure. That is why more people participating will help since it will even out the quirks. And no, pretty well no one is going to hang a painting on a wall that gets direct sun from the south every day, we are exposing our colors to the highest amount of light that we can find, those paints that pass that test after a year (perhaps 2 if people are interested) are clearly lightfast and unlikely to fade at all over many many years in standard display conditions.

As noted by many this concern for lightfastness is simply a professional sense of concern for our art and more importantly for any students we may influence along the way. Yes paint formulations may change tomorrow but if we do this set of tests and they more or less agree with MacEvoy's 2008 results we will know there is some basic consistency and we will have an up to date confirmation. Basically as a rule of thumb a person should do their own light fast testing on an ongoing basis about every 2 to 3 years.


02-04-2013, 09:50 AM
If nothing else this is raising awareness of the problem of fugitive colours.


02-04-2013, 09:54 AM
Again I agree totally Charlene.But as you say,why would you trust their claims and so how can we trust that the source of their raw materials and as a consequence the quality of their paints, stay the same.If they will lie in order to make money,why would they tell us that they have changed their formula?

Bruce McEvoy in reviewing PR 101 says that his 1998 test on Raw Sienna,for which W&N use it and PY42,their sample and that of Maimeri Transparent Mars Red,using only PR101, greyed noticeably after 6 weeks,and the DS version of Raw Sienna blackened.However he gives the W&N a mark of 8.8 and the Maimeri a mark of 7.8 ??? I cannot think of one landscape artist of either the old stock or new who doesn't use Raw Sienna !

Whilst I would rather give up painting before knowingly use a fugitive colour,how can one honestly tell how much a colour has faded in the window other than in cases of a "lot".Does a teensy fade constitute a reason to stop using or where does one say " that has faded but not enough".I also have seen where Northern Canada and Europe are mentioned by Bruce McEvoy as being exemptions to the trial of May to October and he seems to imply that longer may be needed in these instances.So how long would I need to test being in Ireland? What happens if after six months we discover that a pigment we have been using has faded slightly? Do we take our paintings out of the gallery?

I am not really asking anyone to answer any questions for me nor as I have said am I stirring it up,but am more asking questions of myself.Whilst there are pigments such as PY40(Aureolin) and PR122/BV10 (Opera) that I will never use,I am beginning to wonder about others.For example,Charles Reis uses Carmine consistently and the best rating for that is 6.7.Are the motives or morals of a man of his calibre to be questioned?

02-04-2013, 10:06 AM
"And no, pretty well no one is going to hang a painting on a wall that gets direct sun from the south every day, we are exposing our colors to the highest amount of light that we can find, those paints that pass that test after a year (perhaps 2 if people are interested) are clearly lightfast and unlikely to fade at all over many many years in standard display conditions."

But a thing that bothers me Bill and I am sure has been used as an argument by others to justify their use of pigments and it is this- if we test any product, whether it be metal,paint or any other product, and we find that it will for example, function in severe and extreme weather conditions,is that really relevant when the general operating conditions are not extreme, other than to know it will not buckle fade or bend? We see this say for example in clothing.We see a fleece and it says it will keep us warm in minus 20 degrees and we go "wonderful",I'll buy that.Now I will be warm in Ireland in the worst of our conditions which are minus 5 or 6 at worst and only in the depths of night, but is it overkill? Do I need that sort of quality when I will never need use it.When will I be out in the middle of the night at minus 5 degrees? So to follow, if a paint does not fade in normal household conditions with ordinarily lighting in a room,lit only at night time,say five or six hours max a day,isn't that good enough? That it doesn't fade in the window is an added security but if it does fade in the Florida sun but doesn't in the normal conditions of a house living room(away obviously from a window), is that reason to not use it?

02-04-2013, 10:20 AM
If nothing else this is raising awareness of the problem of fugitive colours.


Just reading this thread for the first time as for some reason it is always a slow loader..........I have always know that there are fugitive colours but it shows me just how ignorant I am personally..........more than half the colours mentioned I have never ever heard of..my palette consists of mainly simple basic colours with things like quin.gold or green and that is it!...........I don't do chemistry sets as I know nothing about them!


02-04-2013, 04:54 PM
I find all this discussion so interesting and I appreciate reading everyone's perspective on their approach to pigment information. At some point in our lives, I guess we have to trust someone... in fact, it's kind of sad that my cynicism has overtaken my belief that companies want to do the right thing.

I do know this. I painted two portraits of my Granddaughters some years ago and used Alizarin Crimson (PR83) in their skin tones. My DIL has the portraits hanging in a brightly lit hallway. It does not ever get direct sunlight, though. The alizarin has faded terribly and my girls look quite jaundiced! :)

I never want that to happen again.

So, to Larry's point... I really don't much care if something fades away in the deep Arizona sun (for example)... I care if it fades here, though... I'm testing my paints to see what happens in my own environment for my own knowledge and satisfaction...

I'll happily share that information and everyone can then take it with a grain of salt... This really isn't different from all the art books we read because we don't always take them as gospel either!

02-05-2013, 05:02 AM
There is no doubt that the paint manufacturers were driven to make improvements to their paint ranges by the publicity given to the subject of fugitive paints by, originally, Michael Wilcox, Hilary Page and especially Bruce McEvoy of Handprint. It is interesting how many companies reformulated their ranges at around the time Bruce McEvoy began his forensic examination of such things. With the huge traffic on the Handprint site I would imagine Bruce became something of a feared figure amongst the makers, witness the spat he had with Jacques Bloxx.

In the recent past it would appear a few manufacturers have been making changes to some pigment formulations, forced on them mainly by changes in supply, without alterations to their literature or tube information. Obviously they can't be expected to spend a fortune changing these things for one paint BUT to what extent is this happening? We all know that - sadly - Handprint is becoming seriously out of date. The old saying goes `when the cats away the mice will play'. Let us hope that this trend will not accelerate and corporate profit - witness who owns most of these companies now, Winsor & Newton for example - lead to a slackening of standards. Since company ethos changed in the seventies from the customer being king to the shareholder taking over, many instances in other fields have indicated profit has challenged integrity. Is this the reason so many pigments are now being sourced from India and China? The reason usually given is that pigment supplies, primarily of the earth pigments, are `exhausted' in the formerly mined locations. I suspect this is bunkum it's all about price. Am I a cynic?


02-05-2013, 05:51 AM
I don't know where it will all end up but I suppose like most industries,unless there is firm regulation,whether this be government led-don't hold your breath folks- or consumer led,then paint manufacturers will do what they will in order to maximise profit.I suspect that either Bruce McEvoy finds the energy to go again and update or someone like him steps up, or watercolours mighty well be a dark basement job or a product that lasts a few years due to almost planned obsolescence similar to cars and fridges etc.
When I received the course details from my soon to be on-line tutor and wrote back tentatively asking about the inclusion of Aliz Crimson,expecting to be told that it was Perm Aliz,the tutor replied this morning admitting that they felt unprofessional because they didn't know there was a problem with Aliz Crimson.

So what does one think in a case like this? Is the artist honestly unaware of the lack of lightfastness or is there a feigned innocence? In this instance I am choosing to believe the good because the tutor in admitting the lack of knowledge,said that they had found a link on the W&N website on permanence and was going to read it.Will see what happens.

This is the link- http://www.winsornewton.com/resource-centre/product-articles/the-importance-of-being-permanent/

Makes for interesting reading for a few reasons.Firstly of course they don't say how this great monitoring system of theirs missed the issues with Aliz for so many years.
Secondly,they argue here -Provided you use AA or A colours on good quality paper, today’s water colour is no less permanent than oils. That is because the pigments are so permanent that it no longer matters how thinly they are applied. and say that Aliz,Rose Madder and Opera are B rating and are not suitable for permanence - http://www.winsornewton.com/main.aspx?PageID=269
So what part of that statement some professional artists don't understand or choose not to pay any attention to,beats me.

Thirdly,they don't seem to have any acknowledgement of or admit to the difficulties with Aureolin?

Fourthly,they suggest that even the ASTM rating may not be good enough as it is the pigment they test and not the finished article which I imagine would apply to paints with more than one pigment.

Lastly of interest is that they recommend against varnishing.

So we are back to our "who do you trust". For me,I am feeling that like all things in life, I just have to draw the line somewhere and trust or else stop painting in watercolours.

Cariboo Bill
02-05-2013, 12:23 PM
Thanks for this info on your course Irishman, I go to a weekly class in the winters just to be with other painters and to get some other perspectives but my instructor is an old school workshop person, trained by people like Jean Dobie and in Canada Jack Reid and has had handed down to her a set of colors that make great paintings which include aureolin, alizarin crimson and even rose madder, and she is simply unware of light fast issues. I am there to learn and make various comments especially to the other students but it doesn't seem to get through.

Watercolorfanatic I agree that we need an upgrade and that is what the WWWTP is all about, I don't see anyone on the horizon likely to do another Bruce MacEvoy stint and according to my information Bruce is busy painting instead of analyzing. So I think we have to step up and as a community provide an ongoing analysis of watercolor paints. So consider joining in the watercolor lightfast test that we are running here, worldwide, and that will contribute to a new set of results that may help to keep manufacturers more honest, we will see. It is still the case that by and large we can trust the "big boys oops, maybe big girls" as they are aware of light fast issues.

02-11-2013, 12:06 PM
They will be more up to date than Handprint's are, Neeman. At the bottom of the section on Lightfastness of Watercolor Paints at Handprint is this line:

Last revised 08.01.2005 • © 2005 Bruce MacEvoy

Why wouldn't they be just as accurate if the people doing them use the technique Bill has put forth as the protocol for the testing?



The intensity of my summer sunlight is very different from further north
How can you compare?

If the pigments of the paints is the same from 2005, them I do not need to retest.
W/N have not changed their pigments in a long time

02-11-2013, 12:37 PM
W&N is still selling fugitive pigments. Why would you trust them?

And why bother to use Handprint's data, because it doesn't match a lot of people's lighting conditions either. Just sayin'...

Cariboo Bill
02-14-2013, 08:30 AM
Neeman the essence of lightfast testing is to expose paints to sufficient sunlight to insure that if they are going to fade they will have. The amount of sunlight and its intensity really isn't at issue, once enough light photons have hit a sample of paint and it remains stable you can then have some confidence in the ability of that particular paint to be permanent especially under "normal" indoor display conditions.

W&N may not (though I suspect that they have and it is simply impossible to find out) have "changed their pigments in a long time" but they have certainly changed suppliers of those pigments probably several times since the 1970s. In addition it is not just the pigment itself that has some effect on lightfastness as the gum arabic and other additives determine if the pigment particles have some surrounding "protection".

So for example, W&N have just recently moved their manufacturing from England to France, yes they may have maintained exactly the same processes and formulas but it is unlikely that the manufacturing conditions and source of supply for raw materials has remained exactly the same. They made the move for economic reasons, they wanted to cut their costs, what has that meant in terms of the paint? We don't know the answer to that and so in reality it is wise for a painter to light fast test their pigments on a regular basis, probably at least 3 times a decade.