Thursday, July 3, 2008

Watercolor Is Permanent!

Watercolor has gotten a bad rap over the years, as not being as permanent as oils. This is just not true -- anymore. It is true that watercolors painted in the 19th century were not lightfast. Many artists, like Paul Cezanne, often painted his beautiful watercolors on inferior paper that discolored, using paint that tended to fade. And many of the oil painters of that time used watercolors only as a sketching medium, so watercolor has gained a reputation of being an inferior medium to oils.

But, paint and paper technologies have come a long way. Now, lightfast watercolors painted on archival papers are as durable as any oil painting on canvas. Daniel Smith, a manufacturer of fine watercolor paints, says they "take lightfastness seriously", and they put pigment information on the labels of their paint tubes (as do most reputable paint manufacturers). The watercolor paints are, in fact, rated for lightfastness. And pigments that in the past have been considered "fugitive", or the least lightfast, like Alizarin Crimson, have been replaced by permanent versions. "Permanent Alizarin Crimson" is rated "excellent" in terms of lightfastness.

So, watercolors ARE permanent -- IF the artists are using lightfast paints on archival paper!

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