Friday, January 20, 2017

What is the difference between French Ultramarine and Ultramarine?

What is the difference between Winsor & Newton’s French Ultramarine and Ultramarine (Green Shade) watercolors? Is there a difference? At first glance they appear identical!

I first compared their properties:

French Ultramarine
  • Pigment: PB29
  • Transparency: Yes
  • Granulating: Yes
  • Lightfastness (ASTM): I
  • Permanence: A

The Winsor & Newton website states that this color was created in 1828 as a synthetic alternative to the expensive pigment derived from Lapis Lazuli. This color has red undertones.


  • Pigment: PB29
  • Transparency: Yes
  • Granulating: Not noted
  • Lightfastness (ASTM): I
  • Permanence: A

This color is noted to have green undertones.

According to a W&N representative, slight variations in temperature during production of the pigments can cause very slight variations in color. This is what makes French Ultramarine redder and Ultramarine greener.

Handprint notes that these two W&N ultramarines “are slightly lighter valued, greener in hue and more transparent than other brands, and produce some of the most pronounced (and lovely) wash pigment textures.”

Comparing French Ultramarine and Ultramarine
© 2017 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

I finally did a chart comparing the two, and as you can see in the drawdowns, French Ultramarine has a warmer, redder tone (left), whereas Ultramarine is cooler/greener (right) and looks similar to Winsor/Phthalocyanine Blue.

You can also see that French Ultramarine displays quite a bit more granulation than Ultramarine.

And when French Ultramarine (with its red undertone) is mixed with Permanent Rose (which has a blue undertone), the result is a clearer, brighter violet than when Ultramarine is mixed with Permanent Rose.

So, yes, there is a difference between the two, easily found with a bit of experimentation, testing, and comparison!

Är det någon skillnad mellan Winsor & Newtons akvarellfärger French Ultramarine och Ultramarine (Green Shade)? Vid en jämförelse av attribut så verkar de vid en första anblick närapå identiska. De är båda transparenta, permanenta och tillverkade av pigmentet PB29.

Vid närmare jämförelse så fann jag att French Ultramarine ser varmare (rödare) ut än Ultramarine, vilken ser lite kallare (grönare) ut. Detta blir tydligare ju mindre koncentrerad färgen är. Dessutom så visar French Ultramarine betydligt mer granulering än Ultramarine.

Enligt en representant för Winsor & Newton så beror denna färgskillnad på variation i temperatur under produktionen.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Artists, art materials and allergies

As if having allergies is not frustrating enough, having allergies that interfere with one’s art can be doubly frustrating.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that more than 50 million people in the US or roughly 15% of Americans suffer from allergies. According to researchers, allergies are on the rise affecting as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children. To further compound the issue, their families and work places are affected as well. Worldwide, allergic rhinitis affects between 10% and 30% of the population and rates are increasing.

In Sweden, it is estimated that over 30% or 3 million people suffer from allergies. Research shows that 33% of Swedish adults are sensitive to fragrances and chemicals. Products free from allergens, fragrance, and irritating substances are marked with the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association's swallow logo.

In my own case, fragrances, scents, and smells are some of the worst culprits, in addition to airborne pollutants among other things.

Art materials and situations that may cause difficulties for an artist with allergies

  • Oil paints and solvents
  • Acrylic paints
  • Markers (such as Sharpie, Prismacolor, or Copic)
  • Some pens
  • Inks for dip pens
  • Pencils and colored pencils (made of wood)
  • Airborne particles, such as pastel dust
  • Glues, varnishes, sprays
  • Mediums, masking fluid or liquid frisket, etc.
  • Arches watercolor paper (due to the natural gelatin smell)
  • The jury, in my case, is still out on papers with added fungicides, but it does not seem like a good idea from an allergy standpoint to add fungicides to paper that is to be used in a wet condition, perhaps for hours at a time, at a relatively close distance
  • The same thing goes for any product with added biocides, such as some paints
  • In addition, many other papers and paints have a slight chemical odor that may pose a problem
  • Any scented product, such as scented pens, stickers, or erasers
  • Printer toner and inks
  • Some printed products, from magazines to folders or cards. Just because the ink (or paper) is more environmental does not mean that it does not cause problems from an allergy standpoint!

  • In terms of purchasing art supplies, any art supply store that carries scented products, such as florals, scented candles, oils, or potpourri, may pose a problem to visit for the allergic person
  • Recently, I have had problems ordering paper from stores selling scented products or using scented products within the store as the paper picks up scents of products stored nearby, including cleaning products and sprays, rendering the paper unusable for me!
  • Even products being shipped close to a perfumed item (in another package) may cause an otherwise unscented product to smell

    I have mostly focused on breathing related allergies here, but there are many other types of allergies, such as contact allergies, where skin contact with an allergen causes symptoms. Examples could be certain substances in paints or the nickel ferrule of a brush.

    Additional problematic situations for people with allergies

    There are many situations that affect not only artists but anyone with allergies or sensitivities. Here is a list of a few problematic situations that unfortunately shrink the world that a person with allergies may safely be exposed to:

    • Attending a public event, such as a class, lecture, exhibit, etc., where perfumes or scented personal products are used by some attendants
    • Going to any store or restaurant, class or other location, where incense, potpourri, room sprays, or air fresheners are used. Ditto scented soaps in public restrooms
    • Visiting the mall or any store where scent marketing is used, a marketing strategy where stores use fragrance to attract customers
    • Staying at hotels where room sprays, air fresheners, scented laundry detergent, cleaning products, and soaps are used. Once a hotel room has been sprayed with room sprays, the scent remains in the carpet, fabrics, and walls, similar to cigarette smoke, and renders the room unusable for a person with allergies (even if you ask for an allergen-free room that has not been sprayed, chances are it was sprayed prior to the last customer). This has become a big problem for me in recent years, making travel, especially in the US and Canada, very difficult.

        Additional problematic situations for people with allergies

        While these are situations that, at least in theory, could be fairly easily remedied, air pollution unfortunately has a longer way to go, affecting us everywhere as we go outside, for example, to sketch or paint.
        • You can check the Air Quality Index for your region here, as calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This index includes ground-level ozone, particle pollution, and a few other pollutants. According to the index, 0-50 indicates that conditions are good. 
        • The American Lung Association (ALA) publishes the State of the Air report, showing ozone and particle pollution and people at risk by state and county (link and pdf to the 2016 report). When comparing the 2016 numbers to the 2013 report (pdf), I was shocked to see that the high ozone days in my county had gone up from 4 to 27 per year over a three-year span.

        As if that is not enough, there are numerous other kinds of pollution that affect us, such as water, soil, radiation, light, noise, and many more. It is interesting to note the connection between the environment and our health.

        To return to the art materials, I think it is very individual and what works for one person may or may not work for another. Personally, I use mechanical pencils, Uniball Vision or Staedtler Pigment Liner pens, Winsor & Newton or Daniel Smith watercolors, and Strathmore papers, sometimes other materials but rarely for extended periods of time as I like to work quickly. Having a studio which permits cross-ventilation is also helpful.

        What are your experiences with allergies and art materials as an artist?

        Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Allergies. (Retrieved January 17 2017)
        US Population Clock. (Retrieved January 17 2017)
        Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Allergies. (Retrieved January 18 2017)
        World Allergy Association (WAO). White Book on Allergy 2013 Update. (Retrieved January 18 2017)

        Astma och allergiförbundet Forskningsfonden. Allergifakta 2016. (Retrieved January 19 2017)
        Astma och allergiförbundet. Doftöverkänslighet. (Retrieved January 19 2017)
        Astma och allergiförbundet. Om Svalanmärkningen. (Retrieved January 19 2017)
        Wikipedia. Pollution. (Retrieved January 18 2017)

        Ett inlägg om konstnärer, konstmaterial och allergier och hur allt från olika material till situationer och miljö påverkar oss. Jag är själv speciellt känslig för dofter och har svårt för många material och produkter. Även parfymerade produkter som används i offentliga miljöer, på hotell, osv., kan göra tillvaron svår för den med andningsproblem.

        Wednesday, January 18, 2017

        The Artist's Quiz

        Starting off 2017 with a quiz just for artists! If you like to take part, feel free to adjust it to your own medium as this is in part geared toward watercolor artists - and don't forget to link back!

        In the studio
        1. By the kitchen table or a room of one’s own?
        A room of my own.

        2. By the window or by the wall?
        Neither, my art table is in the middle of the studio, allowing access from all sides and preventing walls to be splashed with paint! If I had to choose one, though, I would choose "by the window" with daylight coming from the left side as I am right-handed.

        3. Alone or in company?
        I have to be alone for the mind to be able to roam as freely as it needs to create.

        4. Silence or music?

        5. Neat or messy?
        Messy while I paint, neat when I don't. I love coming into a clean and well-organized studio in the morning!

        6. Boxes filled with new art materials or staying with the tried and true?
        I try to stay with the art materials I know work for me, but I also do try out new things occasionally to keep things interesting.

        En plein air
        7. Buildings, cars and bikes or trees, flowers and bees?
        I prefer the natural world's irregularities to the sleeker lines and shapes of the man-made.

        8. Alone or with a sketching buddy?
        A sketching buddy is always nice.

        9. Moleskine or a custom sketchbook?
        I use both, depending on what paper I like to use.

        10. Fountain pen or other pen?
        Ten years ago, I used a fountain pen exclusively, these days I go for ease and use roller-ball or fineliner pens.

        11. (Water)colors or black and white?
        Usually black-and-white if I am out sketching, sometimes I use watercolors too.

        12. Talk to passersby or hide behind sunglasses?
        Being an introvert, I will be the one behind sunglasses.

        In the paintbox
        13. Watercolor tubes or pans?
        I buy tubes and add color to whole pans - as well as use the paint straight from the tubes on a palette.

        14. Granulating pigments or smooth colors?
        Granulating colors, of course!

        15. Arches or Fabriano?
        Both, or perhaps neither. I mostly use Strathmore and Canson, occasionally using Arches and Fabriano.

        16. Cold press, rough or hot press (or soft press)?
        Cold press.

        17. Round or flat brushes?
        Mostly round brushes.

        18. Sable or synthetic?
        I have had good results with a mixture of sable and synthetic, which makes for durable brushes that can hold quite a bit of paint and water.

        19. A clean palette or leave the color mixes for the next day?
        I clean the palette or paintbox after painting, since I rarely want the same mixes the next time.

        On the mind
        20. Left-handed or right-handed?

        21. Patience is a virtue or speed is of the essence?
        I like to work quickly.

        22. Sketch first or paint directly?
        I usually paint directly.

        23. More thinking than painting or more painting than thinking?
        I spend a lot of time thinking - which is what enables me to paint directly without sketching first.

        24. Embrace coincidences and mistakes or toss them?
        Embrace coincidences! That's what watercolors are all about! That being said, there are times when a painting just cannot be rescued and one has to start over.

        Hope you enjoyed this quiz!

        Översättning. Jag satte precis ihop ett quiz för konstnärer!