View Full Version : How do I tell what colours are staining etc.?

06-25-2001, 09:02 PM
I know that some watercolours are staining and some are not, but I am not sure how to tell which is which? I suspect that I am not using many of my paints properly.

I use Windsor and Newton paints.

06-25-2001, 10:59 PM
I've been running through the exercises in Exploring Color by Nita Leland (a great book btw). One exercise is a staining test. You use masking tape to section a sheet of watercolor paper into little squares, and paint a square with each color. Once the paint is completely dry, cover half of each square, and use a damp sponge or stiff brush to scrub off as much paint as possible without damaging the paper. (Blot with a tissue between scrubs.) Some paints will come off completely, some not at all. Different papers are more or less likely to stain, so it is important to do this test on the kind of paper you normally paint on.

If you are interested in really becoming familiar with the personality of each pigment, this book is wonderful. Doing the exercises has made a huge difference in helping me plan color schemes, and understanding how my paints are likely to behave.


Rose Queen
06-25-2001, 11:40 PM
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06-26-2001, 06:12 AM
Hi Christie,

Just went thru this in watercolor class. Apparently W & N does not put the little symbols for staining, etc. on their tubes like some other brands. If you go to their website there is a chart that labels and describes each pigment's qualities. Hope that helps........Karen

06-26-2001, 01:17 PM
Thank you everyone for your replies:

Karen- I guess that this explains my inability to find it on the tubes. I shall go to their website today.

Rose Queen - I will also go to handprint.com today.

Liz- I was going to start looking for some books on colour techniques/theory, so I think that I will start with this one.

I like the idea of setting up a grid to see what happens. I have something similar that I did in a class many years ago that shows what happens when you combine different colours in different ratios.

Guess I will be busy for the next little while!

06-26-2001, 06:08 PM
Doing it by hand, personally, is probably the very best - but if anyone wants a shortcut there is a little book that has done it for you - The Watercolor Painter's Pocket Palette by Moira Clinch. It is set up to give you a quick refrence for the 12 most popular colors. It gives the following info on each:
Transparent or semi-transparent color
semi-opaque colors
Dark colors tranparent in dilute washes
Extremely permanent colors
Durable colors
Moderately Durable colors
A permanent color that fades in the light and recovers in the dark
Colors that cannot withstand the damp
Mixes evenly
Granular or mottled mixing effect
Primary pigment biased toward red
Primary pigment biased toward blue

Then there are pages and pages of charts showing, in a matrix, how these 12 colors react with one another. It is very useful and I highly recommend it.

Just as a quick start here is a list of a few high stain colors: Winsor blue, French ultramarine, Veridian, Aureolin (I don't much like this one - it seems too dull so I use Winsor Yellow), Alizarin Crimson. There are more.

06-26-2001, 07:24 PM
I knew if asked my question here, I would get the information that I have been looking for!

I think that I am going to start with a limited palette and do it myself, but I may get the book just to have a reference. I have just started to realize that I know enough to be dangerous!;)

06-28-2001, 10:40 AM
Howdey neighbor! ( I'm just south of you in Kalispell) . Some great advice and information. My two cents is don't be afraid to study. use lots of paper and paint and find out what the "personallities" of your equipment is. And as a side note the phthalocianine colors are very staining. In it's uncut form it is marketed as Windsor green or blue, and Thalo colors etc, but is also a main ingredient in Hookers green, Veridian, etc.

06-29-2001, 12:40 AM
Hello Patrick!

Nice to hear from people in "my" part of the world! I have spent some time in Kalispell and have enjoyed every trip.

Thanks for the advice. I am a chemist by training and it is nice to see that chemical properties can be applied to what I consider my real life.

06-29-2001, 07:03 AM
Hey Christie,
I would go along with Patrick,- play with your paints and see what they do both on their own and mixed together. Do they lift off, do they granulate, what do they wash together like. Have a great time with them and you will be suprised at some of the things you or rather the paints will acheive for you.
At one of the classes I went to, the tutor suggested we went home and painted small squares ( 1 " ) of our seasons colours, spring , summer ,autumn, winter. over a half page of Not paper. What an indication of individual colour perception that turned out to be. Mine is now pinned on my wall along with my colour wheels for me to instantly check on what Im looking for.
Painting is fun, enjoy it and dont forget to Paint like a Millionaire.
Billyg :D:D:D:D

06-29-2001, 11:52 AM

Thank you, I shall paint like a millionaire! I have the afternoon off from work, it is raining (finally!) and there is nothing to do but paint!

Man, I still have a halfday of work to get through before I do this....


06-29-2001, 07:06 PM
Heres a site with a good chart ,

06-29-2001, 07:59 PM
Thanks Rod, I just went there and it looks very interesting.

I just finished a chart with a nine by nine grid. I am just waiting for it to dry and then I can do some staining tests.

This is actually all your fault Rod. if I had not stumbled onto your lessons and studies, I would have just left the watercolours mouldering in the corner.