Art by Jeff Knecht

Eggs, Revisited

27 Feb 2009

I don’t know what it is about food-related subjects, but I seem to have an obsession with them. Here’s another rendition of the eggs I sketched in pen & ink last week. I think this one came out quite a bit nicer.

Ever since I got my watercolor kit, I’ve been disappointed by the quality of the color — they just don’t seem as vibrant as I want them to be. I’ve been wondering if that is because (a) they are dried pan colors, (b) they are student-grade paints (the Cotman line from Winsor & Newton), (c) I don’t know what I’m doing, or (d) all of the above. So I decided I would try artist-grade watercolor from a tube.

Because artist-grade watercolors are not cheap, and because I didn’t know how much of my problem was related to the paint, I didn’t want to break the bank on a whole pallet full of new colors. One tube would be enough to experiment with.

I chose lamp black. Yeah, yeah, I know… you aren’t supposed to use black from a tube. But it was a color that I didn’t already have in my pallet, and it seemed like a good color to play with while I decide whether I’m going to splurge on some “real” colors.

Here’s what I found:

First, while it is true that I don’t quite know what I’m doing, it turns out that the consistency of paint from a tube is very different from the consistency of reconstituted pan paint. Again, this might be due to the difference in artist-grade paint vs. student-grade paint; but the difference is akin to the difference between basketballs and bellybuttons.

Second, the paint from the tube is vibrant. It is easy to get good variations from the lightest light to darkest dark. I’ve never had this kind of positive experience with my pan paints.

Third, even though it seems like you are spending a fortune on paint ($7 for a tiny 5ml tube), you use a surprisingly small amount of paint. This egg painting is 5.5 x 8.5 inches, and the amount of paint I used would fit comfortably on the head of a roofing nail.

As excited as I am about what I’ve learned from this little experiment, I won’t be racing out to replace all my paints just yet. Now that I’ve seen what the consistency of my paint should be like, I’ve got a lot more experimenting to do to see if I can get that same consistency out of my pans (if you’ve got any tips, post ‘em in the comments).