the fluid pigments

The cost of watercolor

I’ve seen some rather incorrect comments about watercolor as of late. Most notably about how “it’s fairly inexpensive” so supply cost really shouldn’t figure into cost of a piece too much.

Watercolor is only “fairly inexpensive” if you are using craft quality supplies. Craft quality watercolor pans are made with dyes- dyes that will fade quickly when exposed to UV light. Student grade watercolor paper is generally NOT archival. It uses a buffering solution to keep the acid content in the paper in check- but when that buffer is used up? The paper will yellow and start to deteriorate.

Student grade watercolor is better than craft grade and more expensive. They tend to be chalky, and use more binder or alternative cheaper pigments to make colors. Many of these pigments are not as lightfast or as permanent as their artist grade cousins of the same name. They also tend to be weaker in the wash department due to the lack of pigment in comparison to the binder.

Artist watercolor is EXPENSIVE per tube and not all artist brands are created equal. Tubes can range from $6 USD to $20 USD sometimes more depending on pigment used to make the color and amount of paint in the tube. You’ll find Cobalt, Cadmium, and Quinacridone colors to be more expensive than earth tones or colors labeled “hue.”

“But Ista! You’ll get more than one painting out of a tube!”

Yes, you will. You’ll also find you use some colors more than others and will find yourself buying colors for a singular project never to use them again. You still have to use PAINT and you are using multiple colors per piece. You also have lightfastness of each color to consider. There’s more than just PAINT in watercolor. Watercolor grounds, special mediums for gloss or granulation, masking fluid, special pigments that cost…

STORY TIME!! I remember first staring with watercolor- I had a limited list of colors from my teacher that I had to purchase. I cried. I got 10 colors of the small Windsor&Newton artists watercolor tubes on sale- and it ended being $88. No paper, no brushes. Just the 10 colors of paint.

And we haven’t even gotten to the paper!!

Ah paper- a watercolorists best friend or worst enemy…

The right paper for the job is essential- I already mentioned student grade papers up in my post. Another thing in which not all brands are created equal.

Sizing matters, weight matters, surface matters. Archival quality matters. You want that piece you sell to stand up for a long time right?

Sheets of watercolor paper usually come in 22x30. You have to cut them to size. They come in varying weights- 90lb, 140lb, 300lb, and I’ve even seen monster 400lb paper before. The more water and layers you plan to use- the heavier your paper should be. Most people do well with 140lb weight- I use 140 and 300. The heavier the weight? The more expensive usually. You can get blocks- I use those too.

On average a sheet of 300lb weight paper in the brand I like? $15 USD. 140lb weight? $9. The brands I like are the following because they hold up to layer building and my tendency to scrub from time to time- Arches, Lanaquerrel, Fabriano Artistico. If the paper is NOT sized correctly, the previous layers will become muddy and fuzzy and not retain their nice crisp look underneath your new wash. Yuck.

Then there is the brush factor. Cheap brushes suck. Don’t use them. You will find yourself more frustrated by brushes than probably anything else- particularly if you use cheap brushes. Invest in good to decent brushes- good starting brushes are Utrecht’s 228 sablette series. These are my go to for affordable brushes, or for projects that would otherwise annihilate my expensive brushes. 228 series run in various sizes from maybe 2-3 bucks for a smaller round brush up to 20 or so for the largest of the sizes.

If you really want to go head long into brushes? You want Sable Brushes for watercolor. They are made with the hair/fur of the Sable animal. Yep- sorry all you animal activist artists. I’ve used countless brushes over the years and sable is the way to go. They are also not cheap. I got lucky one year and got a nice set for $70 that had 5 brushes in an overstock sale. Normally the set is $129. I’ve seen singles run as high as $90 (bigger sizes) before.

So figure in supply cost/investment cost- then time. WATERCOLOR IS NOT A QUICK MEDIUM TO WORK IN. I don’t care if you think throwing transparent washes on something is quick. There are a whole lot of decisions to make and it’s not just as simple as “lay it down and done.” My paintings take hours. Watercolor also shifts in color as it dries- meaning that wash you thought was dark enough? It isn’t, it’s too light. That wash of ultramarine blue you just applied tinted your burnt sienna shadows a bit too blue- now you need another burnt sienna layer to fix it. It’s an evolving process watercolor painting.

So TL;DR watercolor is not inexpensive- it’s pretty darn expensive. If you want a piece that will last for a long time? It’s not inexpensive in the supply cabinet, or the time cabinet. The right paper, the right brushes, the right paints all factor into cost. Watercolor, done right, is expensive. Watercolor that will last for years of enjoyment? Is expensive. Do yourself a favor and BUY the correct supplies if you INTEND to sell your work. Buy the good stuff. Your patrons will thank you when the piece they paid for is still beautiful years later in that glass frame. Do not listen to these people who say “it’s cheap- look I can use x supplies that are sooo much cheaper and it still looks awesome.” You GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR IN THE ART SUPPLY DEPARTMENT.

10

INGLOT is in Singapore! A Quick Overview for Beginners and the Fall In Love Collection

I remember how we used to have to travel to other countries to get hold of INGLOT cosmetics. Now the brand has finally arrived in Singapore (Wisma Atria B1), and everyone here can get hold of their refillable, customizable Freedom System palettes and tons of rich pigmented colors starting at SGD12 per pan of shadow. 

If you haven’t visited any INGLOT store before, you might experience one of three things when you walk in; complete bewilderment, complete ecstasy, or a combination of both. 

If you’re starting to build up your collection or want to experiment with more colors, this is a VERY good place to start because you can create your own custom eye-cheek-lip palettes for an affordable price - pretty much drugstore pricing or better, coupled with professional quality.

In fact - I’d go so far as to say - if you’re in Singapore and want to explore color cosmetics at a budget - ditch the drugstore and visit INGLOT first. You get far more bang for your buck considering the appalling prices of drugstore makeup here.

If you’re unsure where to begin, I’d personally suggest:

  1. Start with the eye shadows. They have SO many colors grouped in different tones and finishes that it could take you an hour just to swatch and go through everything. And the quality has always been good. Don’t be surprised if some testers don’t seem pigmented. After random greasy fingers touching them all day everyday, they aren’t always reflective of a new pan. I like a lot of the mattes too and consistently smooth pigmented mattes are hard to find. Just sayin’. 
  2. Another thing I love playing with is the Duraline fluid with iridescent loose pigments. I used to have to ship in Ben Nye mixing fluid but now you just need to pop into Inglot. One tiny drop of this on your finger mixed with loose pigment, and you have an instant stay-all-day liquid metal shadow. (Like Stila’s but umpteen times more affordable.) You can even mix your own liquid liners with this.
  3. Look for anything with the AMC label. AMC stands for Advanced Makeup Components, and the ranges with that label in the name are a lot more intense and pigmented than usual, including shadows, foundations, powders, etc.
  4. Lip Paints. Lipsticks are fine and good, but I LOVE the creamy, opaque lip paints in pots. These are not glosses. Oh no. They are full-color lip paints that go on like butter.

2 other groups of products to look out for are the new Fall In Love collection. This is a metallic group of 5 shadows, liners, and polishes with the same luminous, intense, almost-glowy finish. The pigmentation is out of this world for the 3 warmer shades, and only the blue and teal shadows need a bit more work. (By a bit more, I’m saying they have average pigmentation levels.)

They’ve also launched their new HD Perfect Coverup Foundation. This paraben-free medium-buildable coverage foundation promises to give good coverage and a flawless matte finish suited to our humid heat, and also contains white truffle extract to condition the skin. I’ll try to do a review of this, and their AMC Under Eye Corrective Illuminator soon.

Do you have a favorite INGLOT product to recommend?