I call it bittersweet because many of the finer things in life become better with age--just like we hope our work will do. And, that is our expectation more often than not. We expect fancy restaurants to present us with a wine list befitting their three- and four-star ratings. We expect older homes to have a charm that newer constructions simply don't possess. Though in the US we don't see this as much, but elsewhere in the World, the elderly are looked on as vessels with something meaningful to impart from their well-lived years on this planet.
And so it is with the works of artists. My students are often aghast at the prices fetched for masterworks. In an effort to pull them out of their consumable- and entertainment-driven stupor, I like to point out most ancient civilizations aren't remembered for their dignitaries or sports; rather it is the art and literature they created that stands the test of time.
Suffice it to say, the paintings that artists create will undergo changes because of time. The important issue to be discussed presently is how will water soluble oil paints stand up to those imminent changes? On the whole, the evidence would indicate very well.
In a previous post, I introduced the major players and their water soluble brands. Standing behind these players looms the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and their tests form the benchmark of light fastness, or how much exposure it take before colors begin to degrade. Their work is essential because it helps ensure the artwork that I have in my living room will look the same when it is handed down to my great-great-granddaughter in 75-100 years.
There are several factors that affect permanency. One is application. It doesn't matter how good you think you are; if you don't follow time-honored rules of painting then your work will suffer. Winsor & Newton sums up those rules well (emphasis mine):
- Fat over lean (flexible over less flexible). When oil painting in layers, each successive layer must be more flexible than the one underneath. This rule is maintained by adding more medium to each successive layer.
- Thick over thin. Thick layers of oil colour are best applied over thin under layers. Thin layers on impasto paintings are likely to crack.
- Slow drying colours should not form continuous under layers as any faster drying layers on top may crack.
The following have specifications which either specifically mentions ASTM ratings or utilizes internal testing protocols based off of the ASTM standards. Click the links below to visit the technical specifications and color charts. (You may find the color charts helpful before you try one of these brands:
- Grumbacher MAX: Specs and Color Chart (Download problems? Click here)
- Holbein Aqua Duo: Specs and Color Chart
- LUKAS Berlin: Use the top-level navigation, go to Leaflets > LUKAS Berlin
- Van Gogh H2Oils: Color Chart
- Winsor & Newton Artisan: Specs and Color Chart (Permanence and ASTM compliance)
So, there you have it. I hope that this gives you a springboard upon which to learn more on your own about these companies and their fine products. Any questions or comments, please let me know.