Friday, February 17, 2012

More questions about gum arabic used for watercolors

QUESTION: Why is photo-grade gum arabic less expensive than gum arabic sold for watercolors? Can photo-grade gum arabic be used with watercolor? Thank you :-)

SUSIE"S REPLY: I did some investigating and I've learned that gum arabic is used in several forms for several purposes from food stabilizers to inks and textiles. It can be obtained in a powder, syrup, chunk solids, or pellets.
Some of its non food uses include traditional lithography, when used in paints, inks, glues, and printing.
As you mentioned it is also used in photography as well as cosmetics. Another interesting thing I learned was it is used on the postage stamps we once licked to stick on our mail.
My guess would be the photo grade gum arabic's chemical components are different than the gummy syrup used in manufacturing watercolor paints.

Can you use photo-grade gum arabic with watercolor?  If you are mixing your own tube paints it seems to me the thicker syrup type would make a more stable base for the paint.
Since I don't mix my own paint thats just my guess. Let me know if you discover any thing different!
Thanks for your question,

Metal vs Plastic watercolor palettes

QUESTION: Hi, Susie. I use tube paints and I'm wondering the differences between a metal palette and a plastic palette?  Which one is best?  I would like to keep my paints in the palette
and mist them to re-use the colors.  Any suggestions?   Debby

SUSIE'S REPLY: Debby-- Using the metal enameled butcher type trays for a watercolor palette is a very popular choice. When I began painting in the 60's I had several I used and I loved the extra large mixing areas. I can see how they would be ideal for mixing and pouring paint if you are into that technique. The metal palettes usually don't come with lids to protect the paint between uses.
The plastic palettes come in several shapes and sizes and many do have lids to help keep paints moist between painting sessions. These plastic palettes are lighter for taking with you when traveling back and forth to classes or for painting outside.

Which is best? I think it's a personal choice and it should be based on what works best for you.

My current palettes are the Richeson 22 well plastic palette (with lid) and the 32 well Jones Palette with lid. Both have flat bottom wells and large mixing areas without speedbumps. But those are my personal choices based on my painting style.

Thanks for writing!

Copyright issues when painting from a demo

:-) Hi Susie Happened upon your site as I was looking for sea scapes/waves breaking, I,m a beginner In art, I was enthralled by your easy demo of waves, may I ask you the gram weight of the water colour paper you use, as well as to ask if I follow your patterns and instructions and do a painting, I see it is copy right, does that mean I am not allowed to show the finished article at a art gallery, and put my name on the finished painting? obviously I will change as much as I can to make it look different, I would not like to do anything illegal, waiting in anticipation for your answer.   YVONNE

Hello Yvonne,
Thanks for writing. I like to use Arches brand watercolor paper for most of my work and for the waves I use 140# Cold Pressed paper or 140# Rough watercolor paper.
The copyright applies to my rights concerning the instructional content, protecting my instructions from being used my another for monetary gain. As with most patterns and reference material used for instructions you are welcome to paint from it and sign it with your name. Some instructors recommend if you work from their patterns or painting examples you sign the your painting as a study. Example: Your Signature, Study of Making Waves by Susie Short.
I’m not that strict. Understand that many other students will be painting from the same resources so your painting will not be as unique as it would if you were working from your own resources.
  • As for showing or displaying the study…Let your conscience be your guide. You will know how much is “copied” and how much is original or adjusted by you to make it your own work.
  • Displaying the study in a group or personal show is acceptable as long as it is identified as a study.
  • I do not think a study qualifies as an entry in a juried competition.
  • It is ok to give a study as a gift.
  • It is not against any “rules” to sell a study as long as you are not misrepresenting it as an original work. Art work for sale in most art galleries is presumed to be original work created by the signing artist. It’s not worth the risk of ruining your reputation or relationship with a gallery to display a work that might be questioned at a later date.
  • It is not ok to make reproductions of a study for personal profit.
I hope this information is useful and answers some of your questions. I’m not a lawyer so please do not consider my opinions to be legal advice.

Happy Painting!!!

Moldy Watercolor Palettes

I left my watercolors in the palette over the summer to garden. From time to time I put a damp cloth over them & sprayed them with water. Several have grown mold. I'm able to scrape off the mold. may I use them w/out trouble. How do you store watercolors in a palette for up to 2-3 months?  
Judy, Olympia, WA

Susie's Reply:
Hi Judy,  I have several suggestions for you. Let's start with the mold issue. Scraping the mold off is a good start. A solution of vinegar and water will also neutralize any mold spores that remain.
If the paint is a professional grade watercolor it should be OK.

Let's talk about storing watercolor paint in a palette. Allowing the paint to dry between painting sessions is not going to harm the paint especially if its professional grade.
Many artists prefer to paint with freshly squeezed paint straight from the tube.
Some watercolor paints are made with emollients or additives (such as honey) that aide in keeping the paint moist. Many believe that the paint must be kept moist to maintain the paint's integrity.  For many years I was included in this group of believers. And I can't tell you how much paint I washed down the drain at the end of each painting session. It wasn't until 1990 when I was fortunate to take a workshop with Zoltan Szabo that I learned dry paint was just as vibrant when reactivated as it was straight from the tube.
Some watercolor pigments and the formulas the manufacturers use are better suited for using dry than are others.
So here are my suggestions: If you feel you must use moist paint don't squeeze out more than you can use in a few days or maybe even up to a week. Use a palette with a snug lid and consider putting a moist sponge in the mixing area when the lid is on the palette.
If you will not be using the paint again in a few days, remove the lid and allow the paint to dry naturally. When you are ready to paint again add some fresh paint on top of the dried paint and replace the lid. The moisture will sink down into the dried paint. 

I hope this helps answer your questions.

Comment: I have 2 large palettes with paint in them....when I go to class they are too large to transport conventiently...I have since bought a smaller it okay to take the old paint out of one of the larger palettes and use it in the smaller palette? Is there an easy way to do this? Thanks Dee Cee

Yes! It is fairly easy to transfer paint from one watercolor palette to another. When the paint is dry its almost like a rubber block that will "pop" out of the well with some gentle prodding. Secure the dry paint block in the new palette well by squeezing some fresh paint of the same color into the well to act as a glue. Let it dry to cure and setup before using it.
Clean the paint block with a damp brush if there is renegade paint dried on it. Try it! Susie