Mis?Adventures in Watercolor-Circling the Pigments


One of the debates waged in the war of the watercolors (nah.  There isn’t really a war–well, maybe there is.  A bit.  A genteel war of ideas) surrounds the use of fresh-squeezed paint versus hard-dried nuggets.  Many maintain that fresh-squeezed contains far more nutrients.

No wait.  That’s a different argument.  Many artists prefer to use fresh-squeezed paint. They argue that if you spend so much time loading your brush with pigment you won’t work freely.  You’ll have a difficult time getting rich color on your canvas. The nuggeteers (I don’t know if they are really called that, but it sounds reasonable) are aghast at the waste that occurs when you clean your palette after every use.  They don’t feel that there is problem getting enough color, or don’t want that much color.

I’m finding the difference myself.  My teacher’s warm triad-Phthalo Blue, Azo Yellow & Pyrrole Red was so intense, that I built up too dark almost immediately.  The colors absolutely glowed. I did this triad from freshly squeezed paint.

Nita Leland’s Opaque Triad-Cerulean Blue, Yellow Ochre & Indian Red was muted, and I ran out of dried nugget before I could get anywhere near dark.  I didn’t think much of that, because earth colors are muted, and I was working in thinner glazes.

Last night, I did Nita’s  Traditional Triad-French Ultramarine, New Gamboge &Cadmium Red.

I used nuggets from my Daniel Smith Try-it dots.  I know for a fact that Cadmium Red is intense.  But here it doesn’t come close to the Pyrrole Red in my other triad.

There’s another factor.  My fresh squeezed pigment all happened to be M. Graham paints, a brand known for its rich pigment.  All my dried nuggets have been Daniel Smith.  This could be part of my findings.  But I see the reason why the debate wages, and will probably never be resolved.

Lesson learned–fresh pigment gives you power, free movment, and deep, glowing color.  Dried nuggets give you more control.  You have to work longer building up the glazes, but you can more easily get a range of tints–plus you save money by not throwing away perfectly good paint.

I don’t see why you can’t use both methods and benefit thereby.

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