Overcoming the limitations of cheap watercolor paints
The U.S. CPI rose more than 7%. It is also predicted from the beginning of the year that high prices will not be easily captured.
In this era of high prices and high oil prices, when concerns about inflation are growing, people who paint are more concerned about painting materials than anything else.
Especially, watercolors are more expensive than acrylics or oils because they contain a higher concentration of pigment and often require more processing. The little tubes of watercolor paint last longer, thus balancing the high price.
If you use oils or acrylics, I’m sure you’ll notice that watercolor paint seems much more expensive. It’s not your imagination. Watercolor paint is much more expensive per milliliter than either oils or acrylics. Below is an illustration that’s based upon pricing that I found online.
Purchasing such expensive watercolor paints can add to the economic burden in an era of inflation. So how about a $1 water color as a new alternative?
Best advantage is that watercolor painting does not need any fancy equipment. You just prepare all that is required are your paints, paper, and brushes.
Watercolor paints come in pans and tubes. Using watercolor pans is easy, as you can begin painting straight away. When it comes to the watercolor tubes, the paint is a bit more saturated and works great for large areas and washes. Also, if the acrylic paint dries, you can simply add a little water to use it again.
The $1 watercolor paints I've chosen as an experimental alternative this year are below. This is a product sold by the epoartist company.
Can a $1 watercolor paint have the same saturation, color, contrast, and blurring levels as expensive watercolor paints? It was the first question mark I had on my own this year.
Below is a rose painted with one dollar watercolor paints. Of the roses below, only one rose was painted under the brand Daniel Smith. Can you choose which rose it is?
The correct answer is a red rose.
Below are pictures that I got a hint from while drawing that a $1 watercolor can be a good alternative.
Lightfastness is the ability of a paint to handle sunlight over time and retain its color. You have various measurements of lightfastness, which can either be excellent, good, or poor. Watercolors are not as good with lightfastness as acrylics and over time, if exposed to sunlight and not protected properly, the paint will begin to fade. Not only that, but the paper can also become brittle. (*)
In other words, the degree of color change over time was my biggest concern when I opted for the $1 watercolor paint. This is because good watercolors are likely to use high-quality pigments. However, after painting the above candle, my curiosity was resolved to some extent. This is because they found that the level of pigment had no significant effect as long as the energy was well captured by the object.
And the beach series below was also a good experiment. Most of the time, white paint isn't something you use to lighten your watercolors. Adding white to the watercolor makes the shape blurry and more opaque. If you want to create this effect, like highlights or other effects, you can use white paint. But other than that, if you want to brighten your watercolor, the only way is to dilute it with water.
However, if you try the $1 watercolor paints, you will find that the pigment concentration is significantly lower compared to expensive paints, making it difficult to adjust the saturation. Therefore, when using $1 watercolor paint, it feels difficult to brighten it by diluting it with water. Tiny grains and debris visible in the pigment also have to walk a tightrope, which can be seen as low quality with $1 watercolors.
In this case, a good alternative was a white color for the ground of watercolor paint. By using this white color together, we overcome the difference. The picture I used for this experiment is the wave series below.
And one of the things I was concerned about using the $1 watercolor paint was the texture. The more high-quality paint, the faster it spreads on the paper, and when dry paint is applied on the paper, the texture can be expressed in various techniques. However, inexpensive watercolor paints have limitations in doing this. In other words, rather than relying on the texture of the paint itself, an external material should be used to cover the poor texture. In this case, it was crumpled paper that was used. After crumpling the paper by hand, I applied paint as if painting a stamp to express a new texture. The mountain series below was born in this way.
If so, can materials like cotton candy or clouds be expressed with watercolor paint for $1? If done wrong, it may look like a scene from a cartoon. So, the alternative I found was thin paper in the gift box. I crumpled this thin paper and applied it to the paper instead of a brush to express the clouds. Using a third material in this way seems to be able to overcome the limitations of poor materials and expressive power of low-cost paints.
And recently, I completed a new painting by printing watercolor paints with a dry brush without water on an acrylic brush.
These various experiments will allow you to overcome the limitations of $1 watercolor paint. I hope to know many of these cases.
Reference: * https://artincontext.org/watercolor-vs-acrylic/
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Myungja Anna Koh