Paint Standards – Artist Grade Paints Versus Student Grade?

by Neadeen Masters on November 25, 2011

It is important to note that packaging alone can be confusing as well as sometimes misleading.   Packaging,  i.e. tubes, jars, or bottles has no bearing on the product quality or grade, this is simply a manufacture’s choice. In today’s art world, packaging does not drive performance. What is most important and will affect the outcome of the artist’s work is the property of the actual pigment that the artist uses. The amount of ‘pigment’ that is used to make the paint as well as the type of pigment used in the manufacturing process does affect colour clarity. This in turn may affect the ‘look’ that an artist is trying to achieve. Pigments are the chemical compounds that give the ‘colour’ attributes to the paint.

DecoArt Traditions Artist Acrylics - Art Apprentice Online Pigment Properties – DecoArt Traditions Artist Acrylics – Art Apprentice Online

On the market today are many brands of acrylic paint; ranging from studio to craft grade as well as ‘artist grade’ paint.  All can be bought in tubes, pots or plastic bottles of some kind. Understanding which is which and when to use them is the key. This doesn’t mean that one paint is better than the other; it only means that each paint serves a purpose, and selecting the right one for the job is easier for the artist if they understand how the paint will perform.

Artist grade paints have to meet certain standards – Do you know what these are?

  • Artist grade paints are usually highly pigmented and often preferred by fine artists and professionals.
  • One of the standard requirements for artist grade paint is that the Chemical Index name of the pigment be listed on the container (tube or bottle).
  • Lightfast rating will also be found on Artist Quality Pigments.
  • Chemical Index names will be listed on the container. For example – Dioxazine Purple PV23 The letter ‘P’ stands for pigment and the letter ‘V’ stands for Violet – this is Pigment Violet 23. The number ‘23’ indicates that this pigment was the 23rd addition to the ‘violet’ pigments on a  ‘master’ index chart or list.
  • These Chemical Index names are charted and kept on record by the SDC (Society of Dyers and Colorists)
  • These index names tells the artist what actual ‘pigments’ are used in the paint, and if it is a pure colour (single pigment) or a mixture (two or more pigments)

Craft or student grade paints are not required to list these names.

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