How Well Do You Understand Your Choice Of Paint?

by Neadeen Masters on November 26, 2011

Where ‘pigments’ are concerned there is no difference between oil, watercolor or acrylic; the companies who make these paints will often use many of the same pigments.

Let’s explain the relevance of pigment names in the art industry and how they are listed and controlled. The society who maintains a master list or ‘index’ of all the pigments used in the art industry sets certain standards or measures for pigments. This allows manufacturers to maintain high standards when selecting their pigments for different brands.

Understanding Artists Pigments - Art Apprentice Online Pigments – Art Apprentice Online

In Artist Grade Paints,  the chemical index name must be listed on the container, this tells the artist which actual pigment was used to create the color. Any artist who wishes to learn solid color theory and successful mixing needs to understand the properties of the pigments.  It’s similar to cooking, and not knowing the difference between salt and sugar.  Both may look and feel the same, but they will perform very differently with distinguishable results. Pigments are much the same in this respect.

Society of Dyers and Colorists

Paint Manufactures choose their pigments based on certain standards set out and maintained by a governing body. In order for a pigment to be listed on this ‘master list’, pigments have to meet certain requirements laid out by the SDC. This governing body, the SDC, which is called The Society of Dyers and Colorists, is the only international professional society specializing in colour in all its manifestations. It was founded in 1884, and was granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1963. The SDC is a registered charity and its aims and objectives are ‘to advance the science of colour in the broadest sense.

The SDC disseminates information through the coloration industry. This is done through the work of its members of the Council, its committees and the membership from around the world.  Besides Technical education this Society provides excellence in all aspects of colour fastness testing and colour measurement. The SDC also publishes scientific papers, information and books related to colour. The SDC is located in the United Kingdom.

Specifications and ratings of artist’s pigments are highly controlled

  • Where ‘pigments’ are concerned there is no difference between oil, watercolor or acrylic; the companies who make these paints will use many of the same pigments.
  • The difference comes from the workability, quality and the permanence of the actual pigments used and the amount of pigment used to make the paint.
  • There are some things to look for when selecting ‘Artist grade’ paint, one is to look for the Chemical Index name listed on the label.

Taking the time to explore the kinds of paint you work with makes you an educated artist. Knowing the properties and attributes of your media choice also makes you a more informed artists who can make the right selection when it comes to matching technique to the pigment. This will make you a better artist!

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