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September 2013



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Oozing orange

This is highly unusual--I've never had a Winsor & Newton paint do this before, and I've been using that brand since rocks were first cooling. M. Graham watercolor will, as it's honey-based, unless you let it set up for several weeks. This orange has been in my several palettes for 6 MONTHS or so now, and it fact has gotten more ooze-y rather than less.

This photos is from April, a bit over 4 months ago:
dowel lines (1)

Naturally, I wrote their tech people, and we've been discussing it back and forth--the answer I got makes me scratch my head, a bit, simply because it doesn't square with my 45 years of experience using their stuff.

"Well, to tell you the truth, our watercolor tube paint was not designed to be squeezed out on a palette, left to dry in a pile and then rewet, and while it is possible in practice to do it, it is not something that we recommend.

"Aside from any other problems that may occur (such as the one you are now experiencing) tube color that has been rewet will be less brilliant than it once was (not to mention the abuse the brush will go through as the artist attempts to rewet the dried color).

"Dried tube color does not operate as a watercolor pan (which has been specially formulated to rewet easily with water, without compromising the brilliance of the color).

"I can assure you that the formulation has not changed. It sounds as if this is something you have done before with this color - that is, cad. orange has dried in your palette in the past, but it is not doing so now with this new tube?

"The "shelf life" of any opened tube of product is generally ten years. If you would like to send us the batch number we would be happy to investigate it, but my feeling is that while many times you may be able to stretch a product's boundaries beyond its design purposes, there may come that one time when the design purposes manifest themselves and you can't get the same result."

Hmm. I've used Cad Orange all my painting life, and never had a problem. This tube was new, as far as I knew, though I'm sure I'll know more about that from the batch number, when I hear from them again.

I have always squeezed paint onto my palette and rewet it, as have many artists before me. I've never had a problem with loss of brilliance, if I wet the colors a moment or two before beginning to paint, I've not found it hard on my brushes, especially if I spray or drip clear water on my paint mounds a few moments ahead of time. For 45 years.

Painting plein air, painting in nature, travelling across the country to paint and teach, all would be much more difficult for me if I had to take tubes of paint and squeeze fresh each time, though I know many artists prefer to work that way. (Not to mention how much airport security LOVES tubes of watercolor!)

I find it slow, wasteful, and truthfully, more difficult to make a smooth wash with fresh paint. It takes more mixing, not less, or it's liable to have little, um, snotty bits in it.

Why do they sell empty pans and palettes, if we're not to fill them?

What are we meant to do with those lovely folding travel palettes?


Yes, you can buy half and full pans of paint, instead of tubes. But I love my wonderful little folding palette, the most lightweight setup I own.

My little travel palette

This one has gone with me from one coast to the other...it weighs in, fully loaded, at just over 3 ounces. I'm not likely to give it up...

Now granted, I know some companies DO have a different formulation for their tubes and for their moist colors--and some don't, and advertise that as a plus.

Soooo...I don't plan to change the way I work, and I SURE don't plan to change to all moist pans, but I have ordered a tube of Cadmium Orange from a different company! I'll let you know how it works...

I live to test art supplies!



That company letter oozes around the
edges more than the Cadmium Orange--it's
pure hogwash, and they are sure naive if
they think an artist with your experience
would buy that story.
Some artists DO work that way, always squeezing out fresh paint--there are just a whole lot of us who don't. It's not from being too tight or stingy, it's that we like the way the paint handles better. If I were marketing my product, I'd point that out.


Gee, Kate....

I just have one question: did you start painting when you were 5?


Re: Gee, Kate....

Well, 2, actually, but I wasn't using Winsor & Newton then. More likely the original Prangs from this box!


Some compaines!

Wouldn't it have been refreshing to have a company as well-known as WN to simply say "Could we have the batch number so that we can check our quality as this sounds most unusual. Oh, and can we also have your address so that we may replace your tube? Is there anything else we can do for you?

If they call that Customer Service then I'm Kermit the frog! I realize ColArt now owns the WN brand, but does everything have to go down the drain when the bigger companies buy out the little guys??

Hope the next tube works out for you, Kate!


Re: Some compaines!

Laure, that was much more the response I expected, not "you're doing it wrong, what do you expect??" And yes of course she was much more polite than that, but that's what it boils down to, rather, isn't it.

Well, I'll just write Dick Blick, and I'm sure they'll be more likely to say that.

I didn't know ColArt owned WN now! How long? I wonder if that would explain the silly Phthalo Blue Red Shade and Phthalo Blue Green Shade? There's a marketing decision if I ever saw one!


Gee I have W&N cadmium orange and it didn't do this.

Maybe I need to buy some pans ...
My WN cad orange never did it before, either!

And if yours isn't doing it, I see no reason to buy pans. The tubes work great, no matter what they said they're "intended" for.
I just picked up a folding palette just like that (by Reeves, I think) - in Tesco for £1.50!
They are wonderfully inexpensive, no matter where you get them, Natalie! I also have a folding metal one, enameled aluminum, that's not quite that inexpensive, but quite large. And when you fold them, you don't want your paint drooling from one side to another! ;-)