Watercolour Word of Warning

A good couple of months ago, I did a very stupid thing. I was adding some information to my coloured pencil information page and a few impatient clicks of my mouse and I deleted all the information. Deleted. I even got my wonderful Mr. S. onto the case to see if any of the info was just floating about in the ether. It wasn’t. So I resigned myself to redoing it all when the summer holidays started.

This meant re-photographing all my pencils and swatches. Now, each time I buy new art materials I do little swatches of them and stick the swatch card into a A5 Derwent ring-bound sketchbook. This book sits on a shelf, closed, and is only brought out when needed or updated. No sunlight gets to it. The pages are closed. Y’see where I am going with this? Lightfastness.

When I re-photographed the swatches for my blog, I noticed something very alarming. Most of the watercolour pencil ranges had several pencils that had faded very badly. With these pencils I use them dry to make a bar of colour then I wet half that bar to show the watercolour effect. In the worst cases both the wet and the dry sections had disappeared but here I will focus on the wet unless I note ‘complete’. Without exposure to light, sunlight, air…It has made me rethink my use of watercolour pencils, even my purchase of them.

So here’s a rundown of the worst and the best watercolour pencils:

Bruynzeel Sakura – Greys have all but disappeared. One grey has gone completely. 3 light pinks and peaches almost gone. 3 light blues almost gone.

Derwent Inktense – As fresh as the day they were laid down. All colours remain intact.

Derwent Signature – Wet areas of Pink Oxide, Rutile Green, Rutile Yellow, Co Green, Paynes Grey and Taupe Oxide have disappeared. The rest are intact.

Caran D’Ache Prismalo – 011, 403, 402, 003, 002, 161, 231, 051 – all have disappearing wet areas. Some of the greys have disappeared completely.

Derwent Watercolor (New) – Flesh Pink and Turquoise Green have fading wet areas but are still visible. Otherwise all other pencils are intact.

Derwent Watercolour (Old) – Thankfully these are the old versions as they are one of the worst offenders. Primrose Yellow, Flesh Pink, Pink Madder Lake, Rose Pink, Sky Blue, Turquoise Blue, Turquoise Green, Water Green, Straw Yellow, Magenta, Silver Grey…all almost disappeared.

Prismacolor Watercolour – All intact.

Derwent Aquatone – All intact.

Derwent Graphitint – All intact.

Caran D’Ache Supracolor Soft – This is frightening. Caran D’Ache is one of the finest supplier of art materials and Supracolor was one of the worst, if not the worst, offenders. Deep breath…Silver, Cocoa, Beige, Ash Grey, Cream, Bluish Pale, Light Grey, Grey, Dark Grey, Brown Ochre, Salmon, Jade Green, Olive, Lime Green, Light Olive, Pale Yellow, Light Green, Granite Rose – all but disappeared. And the others are paler versions of themselves.

Faber Castell Albrecht Durer – Mostly all intact. Light Flesh and 3 Greys – Warm grey 1,2,3 – are disappearing.

Cretacolor Marino – Tan Light, Yellow Light, Glacier Blue, Ivory – disappearing.

Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Mondeluz – All intact.

Caran D’Ache Museum Aquarelle – All perfectly intact. Kind of makes up for the Supracolor huh?

Just have a look at this quick photo of the Supracolor swatch card and even from distance you can see how many have faded or disappeared –


So there you have it. Worth thinking about.






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