…unless you’re a student.
I have a question for you. Have you ever painted a room inside a home?
If you have, you’ll notice that there are good paints and bad paints. With bad paints, you have to paint each wall twice. With good paints, you can paint each wall only once, and the paint will actually do a great job of covering up the wall.
Sure, you may save money with bad paints. But you’ll have to do twice the work and use twice the paint.
So, did you really save money by using a bad paint? Even worse, you took twice as long to complete the job.
Looking back, you should have used the good paint.
Well guess what?
It’s the same thing with watercolor paints.
If you use student grade paint, you saved money. But how to do they charge less and still make money?
If you guessed “they use less pigment” you are indeed correct. Also, if you guessed “they used cheaper materials,” you are also correct.
That’s the two ways they cut the costs so they can still make a profit when they sell discounted paints to you.
Now, if you’re a student, I totally get it. You’re living with a roommate with a lot of bad habits but you tolerate that person because you’re not exactly swimming in money right now. You’re also eating ramen too many times a week and even cheap pizza is a luxury.
Once you get out of school though and you need to actually sell some paintings, give your student paints away and buy real paints.
I highly advise people not to use cheap materials in anything they’re selling. It’s bad integrity for one. For another, you’re not making the best product you can make.
Since student grade paints have less pigment, you’ll really notice when you’re doing layer after layer.
What do I recommend?
To be quite honest, it comes down to personal preference. When it comes to the better brands, I don’t necessarily think one brand is “better” than the next one. However, each one has its particular strengths.
If you want to go with the most colors, Daniel Smith is a great choice.
I feel like Winsor and Newton is “old school” so if I want to make my piece resembling something out of those old fairy tale books, I’ll use Winsor and Newton paints.
Please note that this is my opinion and you’re more than welcome to agree or disagree. Once again, I stress personal preference. You’ll have a favorite brand and you’ll also have individual paints that you love that are outside your favorite brand.
I personally love Sennelier. Their colors “pop” the best.
However, I use all three of these companies. Winsor and Newton has the best burnt sienna, which I use all the time.
Daniel Smith has some really cool custom colors which I use in certain of my paintings, especially the Selene paintings. (Selene is the Ancient Greek goddess of the moon, and she’s a popular subject in Art Nouveau).
For gouache, I use entirely different paints. Once again, personal preference. I’ll write a future article on gouache later.