Saturday, December 01, 2012

Storing Tube Watercolors in a Palette

I work with watercolor a lot lately, in a variety of forms- tubes, liquid, and pans.  I also work on the go, a lot, so I like my supplies to be compact.  I seem to have amassed quite a number of tube watercolors to supplement my two palettes of pan colors, but carrying them back and forth wasn't really an option.  Heidi introduced me to the very simple trick of creating a palette of dried tube watercolors, which rehydrate nearly as well as pan watercolors.

Tube Watercolors

Tube watercolors are often cheaper and more readily available than pan watercolors (EDIT:  For those of you looking for openstock watercolor pans, DickBlick.com carries them), but carrying around a bunch of tubes can be bulky and heavy.   Not everyone works on the go, so weight and bulk may not be an issue, but converting your tube watercolors to semidry pigments stored in a dedicated palette is also a convienant way to work.  As long as you keep your palette relatively tidy while working, there's no need to clean it out at the end of major projects.


This is actually an airtight palette, but I don't really use it as such.  I'm not really trying to keep air out, so any closing palette will work fine once the paints have fully dried.  With an airtight palette, you just have to wait til they're not runny anymore.   If you don't need your setup to be portable, an open palette is fine too.  I prefer palettes with little wells to keep my individual source pigments pure, but if you like working with an open, well-less palette, that is fine too.

This palette has plenty of wells, but not quite enough for all my colors.  I decided to fill it with my most commonly used, leaving space for the colors I still need to pick up that I know I'll use a lot of.

I did a test arrangement first, and realized that this setup wouldn't really be conducive to how I like to work, chromatically, so I rearranged it so that colors are blocked in sections, not arranged in a line.

I moved my white gouache (for whites) lamp black, Payne's grey, and indigo to the very end.  They're some of my most used colors, and I wanted a place where I could find them immediately.

Some brands are runnier than others, depending on the quality of the paint.  

An example of the different brands I tend towards, and the general look of the paint that comes from the tube.  Grumbacher tends to be really sticky and runny, but it's relatively cheap and easy to find.  Holbeins are really nice and creamy, a rich bodied watercolor paint, and the pigment is really nice too, but they can be somewhat runny, depending on the pigments used.  Holbein is also far more expensive than Grumbacher, averaging around $9 a tube, depending on how expensive the pigments within are.  Cotman watercolors are considered student grade watercolors, but they get decent results and tend to be the driest tube watercolors I've used.


The paints before they've dried.
My palette after several watercolor paintings and a couple weeks.  I really like working with it this way, and I mix my paint/water on a separate palette, hence why the tray in the lid is still clean.
My swatchbook page for this palette, done after the pigments had dried and with little dilution.

Liquid Watercolors

I have since branched out from drying just tube watercolors to also using dry liquid watercolors.  The effect is usually less striking and a bit more muted, but I don't like working with super saturated colors to begin with.  Generally this brilliance in color is one of the selling points of liquid water colors, but I like them because the range of colors is wider than what tends to be available in tube or pan form, as they use synthetic dyes instead of natural pigments.

These are the liquid colors when first applied, with their corresponding colors lined up in order.  I will usually do a test arrangement first to make sure the order of color makes sense to me.  This arrangement was based on the hue in my swatchbook.
The same colors after they dried, and the addition of three new colors in the corners that bridge the gap between existing colors.  I was a little worried about how these would reconstitute.

For your reference, the original, undiluted hues straight from their bottles.

Sorry about the head turning on your part.  These are the dried colors slightly reconstituted, but not dilated.  There's definitely some shift in color, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  I'm aware what colors shifted, and if I want the true-er version, I can always go back to the bottle.

Gouache

And hey!  You don't have to limit yourself to just watercolors!  Non-acrylic gouache can be dried and reconstituted the same way.



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