Dried Paint In the Tube

I strongly prefer to buy watercolor paint in tubes, and I am picky enough about color that I only buy what experience has taught me are the best quality pigments. Sometimes, the tube dries before it is fully used and sometimes the tube becomes prematurely damaged, but there is no need to throw it away.

The benefits of fresh tube pigment are that it is very well protected from UV light and dust while in the tube. The soft pre-moistened pigment makes it very friendly for techniques employed for the finest details. Pre-moistened pigment from the tube is also gentler on your good brushes. When the pigment is dry on my palette or in a pan, as most artists do I mix the water in with an older secondary brush so the shape of my good brushes is preserved.

However, sometimes the paint dries in the tube before it is all used. Should that happen, you can still make use of those lovely pigments and ensure none of your investment in a quality paint goes to waste. Below, I list out a step by step photo tutorial on how to do transfer the pigment into a pan to use at home or in your travel tin.

To Be Considered

  • Environment: Ideally, you will want to work in your studio in paint-sling friendly clothing, away from pet curiosity. Paint pigment flakes could be a disaster on white carpet come shampoo day, half-dried pans could be licked at or dappled into by furry paws and tails, and your new white top could become permanently dyed. The kitchen can be an alternative if your studio space is a carpeted room with no sink.
  • Time: The pigment may need to cure in the pan for a couple of days till fully secured, especially true if you have a need for a second top off of distilled water. They should dry where they are able to be covered to prevent exposure to UV Light or dust and left undisturbed.
  • Clean-Up: You will want to clean all the tools in a sink. I find vacuuming the work area when the pigment is dry best, and damp cloth best if it is tarry.
  • Recycling: If you are able to recycle the parts of the tube. I am fortunate to be able to recycle both the metal tube and the plastic cap where I live.

I have made a mess of working with a tarry tube of Permanent Alizarin Crimson. So it may be best to open a tube and let it dry protected from dust instead of attempting to scrape out.

Step 1
Cut into the tube with a sharp pair of shears and peel away foil of tube. Brush away any papery powder they may have clung to the paint if your tube had a paper wrapper.

Step 2
Place the dried pieces from the tube into the watercolor pan.

Step 3
Make certain your dried pain only takes up about 3/4ths of the volume of the pan. Then, add distilled water to the top of the watercolor pan and allow a day for it to sit and absorb into the paint.
You should make certain to leave it covered so that the water does not evaporate.

Step 4
After the paint has been saturated by the distilled water. Mix and press the moist paint in the pan until it is even. Then let dry, covered, so that dust does not settle into the wet pigment. For some pigments you may have to repeat 2-3 more times, often true for opaque pigments.

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1st Place People’s Choice Winner!

Working in the Hosta Garden at Art In the Park.

What a wonderful surprise to learn that I won 1st place for the People’s Choice Award at Art in the Park. It was the 5th annual event, and the weather was just amazing! I met so many fun and interesting people. I especially loved seeing all the children walking around with the fairy wands they made. It was also delightful to catch up with so many familiar faces, many of which I have not seen in person in a while.

Art In the Park

Tuesday afternoon while running errands in Downtown BG I ran into David, who writes for BG Independent Media. While we chatted about the event, I had no idea yet that I had won. I actually learned by being tagged in a post on FB and connected to the article below. It was such a surprise. I shortly after ran into Jacqui Nathan, President of the BGAC shortly after, whom also gave me the news. I have been very touched by all the support and congratulatory feedback from my friends.

The prize was a gift certificate to the Art Supply Depot in BG. I can’t wait to buy more supplies from Art Supply Depot in BG! I’m pretty sure it is going to be a new Field Sketchbook, which I have been eager to take back a practice in working in weekly. I think I am going to try out the one featured in this post.

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Pigments: Natural vs Synthetic & Organic vs Inorganic

My foundation Color Theory class at Kendall College of Art and Design with Professor Sandi Lummen was one of the most demanding classes that I took that first year, and it yielded a lot of rewards.
Coupled with my Art History classes, I learned a great deal about pigments and their evolution. Naturally, we are not talking about natural evolution, but the way technology and science have helped us along as artists.

Since I began discussing my love of historical pigments and the process of working with them, I have noticed more conversation in circles of artists about making paint from pigments and also about the pigments we use. There is a lot of confusion out there, so I thought I’d cover some basics. To begin, I thought I’d highlight the three most valuable reasons to deepen your understanding of pigments.

  • Safety– Historically the bright natural paints have been deadly to handle incorrectly. Restoration painters must use them diligently to protect themselves from being poisoned. Modern synthetic pigments can give you safer alternatives to Lead White for example.
  • Longevity– I can make a brilliant blue from the flower petal of a common garden plant, it is beautiful, bright, and safe. However, it has a short life when exposed to UV light. Other pigments have the possibility of interacting with chemicals in the air, which can cause their color to change over the course of time.
  • Transparency– Transparency is very valuable no matter your medium but is especially important in watercolor. Natural Verdigris lacks the brilliance and transparency of Sap Green, but as a mineral, it does not fade. Whereas historical Sap Green will fade. If you are using the modern synthetic version, you get the best of both worlds.

Pigments can be first divided into Natural or Synthetic. Natural pigments can be found or made through items accessible in the natural world and processed for use without modern chemistry or technology. Synthetic pigments are often dependent upon modern technology and chemistry as part of their production. In the end, pigments fall into one of the main categories below. They are linked to an external website, Handprint.com by Bruce MacEvoy , MacEvoy,a solid source for understanding the categories better.

Pigment categories:

After deeming a pigment natural or synthetic a pigments can be labeled Organic or Inorganic, and one must remember that some are compounds of both. Let’s look at Ultramarine Blue, it is one of the trickier pigments to classify.

Lapis Lazuli Mineral
photo by Hannes Grobe

Historical Ultramarine Blue which means blue beyond the sea, was a natural and inorganic pigment derived from lapis lazuli. It was and is a very expensive pigment but it is remarkably beautiful.

Natural Ultramarine Pigment

Natural Ultramarine Pigment
photo by Palladin

Contemporary Ultramarine Blue is a Synthetic pigment which is usually a compound of both organic and inorganic materials. Notably Kaolin Clay, charcoal, sulfur, anhydrous sodium sulfate, and anhydrous sodium carbonate.

Synthetic Ultramarine Pigment
Photo by Palladin

Modern Quinacridone pigments, my favorite being Quinacridone Gold, are synthetic but composed of organic compounds.

My favorite natural yellow of all time is Orpiment which is the mineral arsenic sulfide. It is like many bright natural pigments, very very dangerous to work with. It is not my favorite because it is dangerous, but because it is so beautiful and is the bright lovely gold pigment used in the infamous Book of Kells.

Posted in Color Theory, Pigments, Watercolor | Leave a comment