The first items I touch upon when teaching an artist of any level, are brushes, paper, and paint. There are a lot of unknowns about the materials you use and your tools. The past few weeks, I have addressed paper, paint, and brushes and even a blog on how I used those in one of my paintings. What I didn’t talk about yet is student-grade paint compared to artist-grade paint. Yes, there is a difference and I’ll explain those differences today.
To start, student-grade paint is less expensive than artist-grade paint, making it a more attractive option for a beginner or an occasional painter. The downfall of student-grade paint is the quality; cheaper materials tend to be used to create the paint, and therefore, the quality of color and consistency is lacking. Also, student-grade paints do not flow as nicely as artist-grade paints. With so many different brands, some paints are definitely high quality than others and you will find some student-grade will become a staple in your art. I have a Cotman orange made by Winsor & Newton that is my absolute favorite and is not available as artist-grade paint. However, I do use the orange more for mixing, therefore I’m not worried about how it flows on the paper.
There are so many positives to artist-grade paint; they mix well, the pigment flows nicely while staying consistent throughout the brushstroke, and the colors are rich. These are all important aspects of painting. What do I mean when I say artist-grade paint mixes well? When mixed, student-grade paint can get muddy if you’re not careful, while artist-grade paint has the benefit of creating some nice colors. Basically, artist-grade paints speak for themselves. They will be more expensive but you will have a wider range of color choices and you will be happy with how easily they work and react to your paper and brush.
Keep in mind, there are a lot of paint brands, with colors from each brand varying. You would benefit by trying different brands until you find the right one. For example, I had a Paynes gray I loved but when I lost it I couldn’t remember the brand and since then I haven’t been able to match. Each brand’s version of color varies. If you have a friend who also uses watercolor maybe you can try each other’s paints. You might be surprised at what you find by using another brand.