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Old 04-21-2012, 01:52 PM
Donna718 Donna718 is offline
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Question Watercolor pigments

Hi All.
I have not posted in forever and have a question. I have been painting in watercolor for about 20 years and read constantly about the 'Madders' fading quickly,turning different colors and not to use. Yet new publications with instructions from other artists still use rose madder and brown madder in the makeup of their palette.
Please give me some feed back or if this has been discussed please direct me to the discussion.

I value the comments on Wet Canvas over other sites.
Thank you,
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Old 04-21-2012, 04:16 PM
ingegerd ingegerd is offline
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Re: Watercolor pigments

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Old 04-21-2012, 06:24 PM
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Horsa Horsa is offline
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Re: Watercolor pigments

Genuine madder pigments Re dyes derived from the madder plant. It is quite possible that Hese artists are using modern synthetics sold under the colour name of "madder".

Winsor&Newton do this. The only madder colour they sell that is derived from the plant is "Rose Madder Genuine".

It is also possible that the artists in question either do not know, or do not care about the lightfastness issues.
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Old 04-21-2012, 06:48 PM
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janinco janinco is offline
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Re: Watercolor pigments

This is from an old newsletter published by Golden Artist Colors. The article was titled "The Ever-Changing Artist's Palette":

From time to time, artists will ask us why we don’t make historically produced colors. The choice not to make certain colors is based on one of several reasons. Sometimes the particular pigment is no longer commercially available. It is also true that certain pigments, such as Prussian Blue and Viridian Green, are not stable in acrylic emulsion paints. Other pigments may have an unacceptable level of toxicity. Often, as is the case with true Alizarin Crimson or Sap Green, our response is that we do not want to use pigments that do not have an ASTM Lightfastness rating of I or II. It is a very easy decision to eschew such colorants if lightfast alternatives exist in the same color space.

When alternatives do not exist, the most important attribute of a color, still may be... color. That is why GOLDEN sells fugitive Fluorescent paints and Phosphorescent Medium. They are truly unique. We also make it well known that these materials will not stand the test of time. One day there may in fact be fluorescent pigments that are lightfast. If and when that day comes, today’s pigments will be replaced. The attribute of being irreplaceable is likely the most valid argument for incorporating fugitive material into artwork, and comes at a known cost. Conversely, failure to embrace better replacements, when merited, may cost posterity that work which could otherwise have endured.

This argument is nothing new to the art world. Take for example the use of Madder. This plant’s root has been used for centuries as an artist pigment. The brilliant rose madder was extracted and processed into a “lake” (a lake pigment is made by using a substratum, typically a clay, as an inert base to absorb an ink-like colorant, so that it may be applied as a pigment1). In 1868, the German chemists, Grabe and Lieberman, first synthesized 1, 2 dihydroxyanthraquinone, or the color material in Madder, known as Alizarin. The process created a much more lightfast pigment 2. While some artists argued that the genuine Madder pigment was brighter, Alizarin’s permanency was so much greater that it immediately became the preference of most artists of the time. While the lightfastness was a great improvement, it is still only an ASTM category III pigment (Fair) by today’s standards.

In 1958, Struve discovered methods of preparing linear-transquinacridones in a form useful for pigments 3, which paved the way for development of the family of pigments we call Quinacridone. Just as the coaltar derivative Alizarin Crimson set a new standard for synthetic organic pigments, the development of Quinacridones made it possible to achieve the same desirable characteristics of the original Madder, but in a Lightfastness I (Excellent) pigment. As a result, GOLDEN is able to offer Quinacridone Crimson as a modern, and dramatically more permanent alternative.

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Old 04-21-2012, 08:22 PM
Donna718 Donna718 is offline
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Re: Watercolor pigments

Thank you for the information. Lots of good points.

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Old 04-21-2012, 08:49 PM
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Cyntada Cyntada is offline
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Re: Watercolor pigments

Donna: Hi! IMHO the most important "head knowledge" we need as watercolorists is to get to know pigments (in addition, obviously, to the visual and tactile skills needed to actually handle paint.) Seeing PR83 vs PR179 on the tube clarifies mysteries like why one "alizarin crimson" turns a scabby brown and another stays vibrant. Names like "Rose Madder Genuine" and "New Gamboge" help but to be certain: check the fine print.

Quite possibly, an artist using one of those colors in a video could be rushing through a narration with W&N paint and just blurted out "grab the Alizarin and..." instead of "Now use Permanent Alizarin Crimson, that is, Winsor and Newton #466" – which is a similar name but a totally different (and much more permanent) pigment.

I do agree with Bruce McEvoy (the Handprint.com guy) that paint companies sell fugitive, genuine alizarin/madder because some artists just insist on using it. Personally I don't think it matters at all for work that you know will have a short lifespan. The reason I don't use fugitives is that I also think that anything you paint could end up having a much longer lifespan than anticipated. If Aunt Matilda likes the wrapping paper enough to cut the flowers out and frame them, I'd like to know that they'll still look good for her for years to come.

Thanks for the info Jan, I never did understand what "lake" meant in terms of paint. Now I get it
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Old 04-22-2012, 06:16 PM
M.L. Schaefer M.L. Schaefer is offline
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Re: Watercolor pigments

Here is a great link for lightfast questions about paint: http://www.artiscreation.com/yellow.html

Now a days, many manufacturers have lightfast madders: I prefer Old Holland's Rose Dore Madder Lake, but also have a small tube of Pebeo Pink Madder and Madder Lake Deep by Lukas. I, as many others, am concerned about lightfastness...and prefer "getting used to" a paint with a slightly different chroma than genuine adders, which are notorious for fading....

So, look up a Madder that may interest you (Blick's is a great place to look), see what the pigment number is and use the above link to find it...it will also let you know what other manufacturers use that particular pigment.

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Old 04-23-2012, 08:31 PM
Donna718 Donna718 is offline
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Re: Watercolor pigments

Thank you again for the information you all have provided. Great rainy day reading.
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