Lightfastness Tests: Royal Talens Van Gogh

Hi everybody who’s reading this! This is another one of my comebacks (settling in another country takes quite a lot of time and attention), this time with some lightfastness tests results.

My tests were rather simple. On a piece of watercolor paper, I drew some samples of all the paints that have (I tried to get both tints and mass tones in there) as uniformly as I could. Then I cut the paper in three pieces, and stuck one to my southern window (tests were conducted in the north-east of Ukraine, during the sunniest period of the Ukrainian year, from mid-May to mid-September), and another one to my northern window (no direct sun light). The third one (a reference) went into my notebook, and the notebook went into my desk drawer. Nothing fancy, as you see.

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In this post, I will show you the results of my very own test of the Van Gogh paints. I own a set of 10 tubes; here are the colors and pigments in the order they appear on my test swatches (from top to bottom):

108 Chinese White, PW4
708 Payne’s Gray, PBk6+PV19
411 Burnt Sienna, PR101+PBk11
616 Viridian, PG7
535 Cerulean Blue (Phtalo), PB15+PW6
506 Ultramarine Deep, PB29
331 Madder Lake Deep, PR264
370 Permanent Red Light, PR254
269 Azo Yellow Medium, PY154+PO62
254 Permanent Lemon Yellow, PY184

All the colors are marked with “+++” (which means “excellent lightfastness”) by the manufacturer. If memory serves correctly, all the individual pigments indeed have an excellent rating by ASTM. The white paint is virtually absent from my swatches, as I rarely use it. This particular test started on 21 May, and ended on 15 September, both 2015.

So, without a further ado, TA-DA:

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The left strip had hung on my southern window; I placed the reference in the center for your convenience; and on the right, you will note the northern window strip.

As you can see, all the paints are indeed quite lightfast, with the only striking exception of “cerulean”, which is phtalo blue for the reasons unknown mixed with titanium white. I’m not sure how on good Earth they managed to create such a fugitive paint out of two such lightfast pigments, but the fact remains: notable discoloration appeared within less than a month through the test in both the samples.

Considering the presence of a white pigment (which technically makes it a gouache, and it does look and behave like a gouache paint) and the money you pay for it, I’d say this one is not truly good for anything. Royal Talens offers another flavor of the same dish: it supposed to imitate another expensive pigment, cobalt blue. I never tried that one, but after this test, I wouldn’t even bother to. One of these imitations is usually present in all the Van Gogh sets (both pans and tubes), so beware.

My New Home

It’s been a while since my last post. Something exciting has been happening in my life — I moved to Canada! I am now a Canadian permanent resident, and I am looking forward to making Greater Vancouver area my permanent new home!

Totem posts at Stanley park, Vancouver

Yellow and Orange Watercolors

Yellow and orange pigments usually have a “PYXX” or “POXX” designation, where “PY” means “Pigment Yellow” and “Pigment Orange” respectively, and the Xs are digits which correspond to a certain chemical substance (or range of similar substances).

Below, you will find the swatches of all the various yellows and oranges that I have or had in my possession. Swatches have two areas, the upper one to demonstrate the range of tints (diluted paint), and the lower one to show the mass-tone (the paint taken straight from the tube without diluting or, in case of the pans, the thickest concentration I could get). On each swatch you will notice a black line – I made it to give the idea about the transparency of the paint.

Single Pigment Paints

Mixed Pigment Paints

Some Food to Post

I’m into Postcrossing, and one of my recipients appears to like postcards showing traditional cuisine.

White Nights watercolor, Faber-Castell liner
White Nights watercolor, Faber-Castell liner

So I decided to sketch my dinner for the guy, as today we are just having a piece of traditional cuisine: Ukrainian soup called “borscht”. It’s bright red because of beets and tomatoes, and people (including me) like adding sour cream and dill to it. This soup absolutely cannot go without traditional Ukrainian sort of rye bread with some garlic (yes, garlic – not very social-friendly, perhaps, but so delicious!)

What do you traditionally eat in your country? It would be interesting to see some sketches! 😉

Sketching Under Rain

Umbrella in one hand, album in the other, watercolor set in the… well, the other, too, I guess… – what can be more convenient?

Mirror Stream - fountain in Kharkiv, Ukraine

This is one of my most favorite places in Kharkiv, Ukraine. This fountain was built soon after the World War II, it’s called “The Mirror Stream”. It’s very beautiful when it’s working, but on the day I sketched this, some reconstruction was going on, so the water had been shut down. Thankfully, I never felt any lack for water on that day, it rained cats and dogs!

[White Nights watercolors, Faber-Castell liner.]

Green Watercolors

Green pigments usually have a “PGXX” designation, where “PG” means “Pigment Green”, and the Xs are digits which correspond to a certain chemical substance (or range of similar substances). For example, PG7 is copper phthalocyanine, a bright blueish-green substance usually called phtalo green.

The list of available green pigments isn’t excessively large. Many green paints are, in fact, so-called “convenience mixtures” – pre-mixed shades of green, the purpose of which is to free the artist from the tedious task of mixing his or her favorite green again and again every day. Interestingly enough, you will not find a green paint consisting of a yellow and a blue pigment. All green mixtures are based on green pigments, to achieve the highest chroma possible. This is also why having a green paint on your palette is so useful.

Below, you will find the swatches of all the various greens that I have or had in my possession. Swatches have two areas, the upper one to demonstrate the range of tints (diluted paint), and the lower one to show the mass-tone (the paint taken straight from the tube without diluting or, in case of the pans, the thickest concentration I could get). On each swatch you will notice a black line – I made it to give the idea about the transparency of the paint.

Single Pigment Paints

Mixed Pigment Paints

Blue and Violet Watercolors

Blue pigments usually have a “PBXX” designation, where “PB” means “Pigment Blue”, and the Xs are digits which correspond to a certain chemical substance (or range of similar substances). For example, PB35 is cobalt and/or copper oxides, substances of a distinctive shade of blue called cerulean.

Below, you will find the swatches of all the various blues and violets that I have or had in my possession. Swatches have two areas, the upper one to demonstrate the range of tints (diluted paint), and the lower one to show the mass-tone (the paint taken straight from the tube without diluting or, in case of the pans, the thickest concentration I could get). On each swatch you will notice a black line – I made it to give the idea about the transparency of the paint.

Single Pigment Paints

Mixed Pigment Paints

White Nights Watercolor Review

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White Nights is an inexpensive Russian brand of watercolor produced by Nevskaya Palitra, Saint-Petersburg. In Russia, only three manufacturers make watercolors for professional use (the other two being Aqua-Color, Saint-Petersburg, and Gamma, Moscow).

I can assure you that you will never find a single artist in any former USSR country who learned the art of watercolor without using this brand. During the USSR era, every art student dreamed of having a set of this paint. Even today, with so many other brands available on the market, this line retains its leading position in Russia and neighboring countries, and it’s easy to see why.
Continue reading “White Nights Watercolor Review”