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Old 10-03-2007, 11:43 AM
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Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Well, It has been one year and the time flew by. I am posting the images of my lightfast tests. All pigments were applied in masstone, undertone, and then three progressively lighter tints with Winsor and Newton's Titanium White onto acrylic gessoed watercolor paper. As you can see some faired very well, while others faded horribly. I tested some pigments just to see exactly how bad they were, like the Rowney Sap Green which has the treacherous Tartazine yellow PY100, a pigment that has no place in modern artists colors. You will noticed that genuine alizarin crimson PR83 did fade and Winsor and Newton's Permanent Alizarin Crimson held up rock solid. However, the fading of Alizarin Crimson was not catastrophic.

These test were conducted in a South Facing window from 09/05/06 to 10/02/07. These images were scanned and color corrected as much as possible. Some details are not as evident in the scans and I will try to clarify the results when they do not appear the same in real life as they appear in the scan.

The first image is Weberís Bob Ross Indian yellow PY83 which fared pretty well with only moderate fading in the lightest tints. In masstone and undertone it is absolutely lightfast. This is a much more middle yellow version of PY83 than the almost orange version by Gamblin. It has excellent tinting strength and transparency and mixes very nice greens and oranges. I tested it because I was not sure of the quality of Bob Ross paints, but it was the only source for this middle shade of PY83 I have found in oils. I was impressed with the level of pigmentation and now the permanence of this paint.

The next sample is Talenís Van Gogh Azo Red Light PO34. It has faded in undertone, and in all tints. This pigment is only permanent for use full strength and other more lightfast pigments are available in this hue.

Next is the horrible Rowney Artists Oil Color Sap Green PY100, PG7, and PR83. Basically this paint self-destructed leaving only the pthalo green PG7. This paint is completely unacceptable. Tartazine yellow is an old completely outdated pigment and should never be used in permanent painting.

Next, is the very popular Winsor and Newton Artists Oil Color Alizarin Crimson PR83. The pigment has faded in all areas. Not horribly, but it certainly is not near as lightfast as modern replacements. The pigment is apparently most vulnerable in a undertone or a thin glaze where it showed the most dramatic degradation. It is now up to you to decide whether this is an acceptable pigment for your work.

Last in this post is M. Grahamís Naphthol Red PR112. This pigment held up very well for a naphthol red with only slight fading in the two lightest tints. In masstone, undertone, and medium tints it is perfectly lightfast. To be fair, for some reason I made the lightest tint for this pigment much lighter than the other pigments tested, and was applied much less consistently, which makes the fading that occurred less concerning. This pigment is lightfast as far as I am concerned.
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Old 10-03-2007, 12:14 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

The next sample is Grumbacherís Prussian Blue PB27. Prussian blue is a strange pigment which seems to fade rapidly and then stabilize. This pigment faded in undertone and tints within the first month of the tests. However, as you can see over time the pigment recovered and a year later appears to be very lightfast in all areas. I have started a new test of Winsor and Newtonís Prussian Blue and M. Grahams and both also faded considerably within a month, and they appear much worse than this Grumbacher sample did and have not recovered at all in the three months they have been exposed. They all seem to have a rapid adjustment to the sunlight, where they lighten in tints and undertone in about two weeks, and then they stabilize and become permanent after the initial fading. So, they look the same after a year as they did in two weeks. However, this initial fading can be dramatic. I also tested M. Grahamís Prussian Blue Watercolor and it faded as well, then stabilized, however it has never recovered to its original level. On handprint.com there are samples that have completely withstood light and he classified as absolutely permanent. *However, he gives a very good rating to M. Grahamís Prussian blue and I tested my watercolor and it also faded and shifted rapidly. *The pigment could be varying from batch to batch, regardless without testing, it would not be wise to use this pigment unless from a tested tube that has proven to be lightfast. *So, far the Grumbacher PB27 is the only lightfast version I have unless the W&N and M. Graham samples recover over time. This is an older tube of Grumbacherís Prussian Blue bought in the early nineties. This is a favorite pigment of mine and is sad to see the crazy variation in the quality and reliability of this pigment. I also have the old Liquitex PB27 in acrylic and it is absolutely lightfast with no change after a year. If you use this color, then you should test your tube of PB27. It will fade rapidly, within a month, if there is a problem so you will quickly be able to determine whether your tube is good or not.

Next is an old tube of Alexander Sap Green which I tested because it did not list the pigments. Obviously, it is very fugitive and a complete disaster. Suspicions confirmed.

Next up is Grumbacherís Dioxazine Violet PV23. This pigment is absolutely permanent in all areas. Rock solid. There have been doubts about this pigment in the past, but in my test it is one of the most lightfast.

Then there is W&Nís VanDyke Brown, Bituminous earth Nat.Br8 and PBr7. Another questionable pigment that has proven to be relatively lightfast. There is some lightening in undertone, and light tints. While is has proven to not be fugitive, there are rock solid earth pigments that are the aproximately same hue, so itís use is not necessary.

Next is W&Nís Artists Oil Permanent Alizarin Crimson PR177. This pigment has proven to be very lightfast and superior to the pigment it replaces. Another rock solid modern organic pigment.
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Old 10-03-2007, 12:19 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Next is Talens Van Gogh Azo Red Deep PR57 and PO34. This is a pigment tested just to see how bad it can be. It has faded horribly in all areas and this paint should never be used for anything related to art.

The last two pigments are Chroma Archival Superchrome Yellow Medium and Light PY34. These are the discontinued stabilized chrome yellows that Archival used to offer. They show that they really did live up to the promise of lightfast chrome yellow pigments. They are absolutely lightfast.
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Old 10-03-2007, 01:37 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Thanks a lot for posting your results! This is very helpful and informative.

So if you had to pick a handful of colors to use (in creating lightfast paintings), what would you feel safest using (in a somewhat limited palette of only 1 or 2 of every color)? Just curious.

If one could stick with using only the most reliable pre-made colors, and still get the same results after throwing away all the weaker ones...

Last edited by 1100ww : 10-03-2007 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 10-03-2007, 03:22 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Awesome work, Brian. Thank you so much.
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Old 10-03-2007, 03:30 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Thnx for the test. I dont understand why you dont compare same colours of different manufacturers. Maybe you did. For instance Azo red light of many manufacturers. Van Gogh is stating that this colour is not museum proof. So they state theirselfes that it isnt lightfast for many years.

I dont understand your conclusions either. I used the van gogh brand and switched to W&N. But both arent very good? Is that correct and which brand do you recommend? Your test is very interesting. Thnx again,

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Old 10-03-2007, 04:35 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

I am not making any statement about the brands, only the pigments themselves. I have stated my respect for almost all brands or artists quality oils in many previous posts. Van Gogh is a student quality paint and Winsor and Newton Artists oils is the artists quality, so in that comparison I do believe the Winsor and Newton to be better quality. I even really like the Bob Ross Indian Yellow.

I am aware PO34 has ++ rating from Talens and that is why I tested it, to see just how impermanent it was. This is particularly important when you note that the Azo Red Deep is also rated ++ but is much more fugitive. I do not have these pigments in every brand, and do not have the resources to purchase or test them all. I need to win the lottery first. The only other artists oil color with PO34 that I am aware of is Old Holland Schev. Red Scarlet. I have researched this pigment and not found any pigment manufacturer that claims to offer a high performance, or very lightfast, version of this pigment. It is a cheap mid-grade pigment that only had moderate permanence as far as I can tell. I would encourage anyone with the Old Holland paint to test it.

The point of my test was mainly to compare permanent alizarin crimson PR177 and the genuine alizarin crimson PR83 in oils. I had done previous tests on PR83 in watercolor and it had faded very dramatically and I was aware that oils provided more protection for the pigment. I threw in additional pigments that I was personally curious about, or pigments that were known to be fugitive and I wanted to see the extent of their impermanence. Colors that did give poor results, and that I did have in other brands, I did re-test, such as the Prussian blues.

My tests are far from conclusive and only offer a piece of a puzzle. I think that overall I fell confident that the artists oil paints marketed as permanent, from all the popular manufacturer, to artists today can reliably be trusted to be so. I would encourage more people to test their colors and post the results here on Wetcanvas.
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Old 10-03-2007, 07:07 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Great work Brian, and very informative.
I've still got a little longer to go (December, I believe) on my Alizarin test, which are not nearly as indepth as yours. I had already tested solid masstome and had little fading, but was suggested to do a more transparent smear. I did, and it is fading terribly in the earliest sections. I must have much more intense UV than you, because it is really taking a toll being outside (window glass blocks UV) in direct sun on south facing wall in Southern California.
Confirming what I've seen in many brand comparisons: PR177 is no substiture for Alizarin Crimson. Totally different color, despite the manufacturer's labels. I would love to find a true permanent replacement for this wonderful color.
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Old 10-04-2007, 05:51 AM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

That was what i was thinking. If you test prussian blue of two brands whe can conclude which is best. If everybody tests colours whe could have a testcentre of the quality of paints
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:24 AM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Thanks a LOT for sharing your test with us. This is very useful and informative, not to count the time we spend doing this tests. Thanks again!

Gunzorro: By the way, the mixture of the Courtrai with the Cobalt (To get the CoZIca) worked wonderfully, just have to wait some more years to see the effect on the glazes...

Last edited by Alex Sunder : 10-04-2007 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:51 AM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Jim, apparently the sun is much stronger in Southern California than Tulsa, Oklahoma. I would glady trade locals with you anytime.

Also, you are right, PR177 is not an exact match for alizarin crimson. Have you tried Rembrandt's Permanent Madder Deep PR264? It is a different version than the ruby PR264 version Blockx and others use. It is certainly the closest match to genuine alizarin crimson I have found, which is very close. I have tested the Talens pigment (in their cheap Van Gogh watercolors) in watercolor and it was lightfast, so I would assume the oil pigment is completely reliable. How is your Vandyke Brown samples looking?
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Last edited by Brian Firth : 10-04-2007 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 10-04-2007, 11:01 AM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Brian.. Thank you very much. This is valuable information and I will study it at length. Never much considered durability and fading. Clearly not everything is equal.
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:02 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

Thanks Brian! I'll have to keep it on my list. I would love a close looking replacement for AC.

Alex -- Thanks for the update. I know how hard it is for you to find specialty art supplies in Brazil. I don't have any problem with Cobalt, except that I watch how much I use. I'm suspicious of using too much. Not so with the lead napthanate -- I've not had any concerns. I'm glad it worked out for you.
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:11 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

These are intersting results and thanks to those who take the time and effort!

My question is this: Are there any tests that test these paints under "more real" conditions. I have always been told (as I believe most people are) to never put artwork in direct sunlight. Should we expect similar results under normal indoor room lighting, or are these lightfast issues being overstated by using direct sunlight tests. Believe me, I am grateful for this type of information, and have just recently removed alizeran crimson from my palette, but are we creating worry and anxiety in lots of people who will now think their paintings will be ruined?

Don
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:42 PM
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Re: Oil Pigments Lightfast Test One Year Later

The reason for using direct sunlight is to simulate the effects of a much longer time of normal indoor lighting. This is just a way to do accelerated tests to give a general perspective on how the pigment will stand up over time. You certainly don’t want to expose your paintings to direct sunlight, but these test are an accepted way of simulating the long term effects of light on paints.
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