Old Art Materials

I was given some old watercolor materials by a family friend. The tubes of paint are well known brands, but very old. There are also many sheets of paper in various thicknesses and textures. Since I have been selling a few of my paintings, I wonder is it safe to use these old materials?

Barbara - California


There should be no problem with your old tubes of paint provided they haven't dried out. It would be wise to check with the manufactures though, they change the formulas from time to time to improve lightfastness and remove toxic chemicals.

Tubes of paint that have dried out can often be brought back to life by standing them in a jar of water with their lids off for 5 to 6 weeks.

Unless paper is stored correctly it can suffer badly with age. The biggest problem is mildew - the paper may look fine but when you work on it tiny dark dots appear in the washes. Sometimes they will stay there - sometimes they will dry out, but they indicate that the paper has been damaged and it should only be used to practice or experiment on.

If you find visible signs of mildew on paper, carefully take it (and any thing it has been in contact with) out of the studio and place it in the sun for 20 minutes. This will kill the spores before you brush them off outside. The paper can then be used to practice on. If the paper was kept in a draw or cupboard this should be thoroughly wiped down with a bleach solution to kill mould, then rinsed out and allowed to dry before paper is stored there again.

Never store paper in a chipboard or particle board enclosure unless it is covered with melamine or laminex. The acid content in these boards will quickly damage watercolour paper



Evening Skies

Here in Cornwall we have the most amazing evening skies and I would love to capture the setting sun in all its glory- got any ideas on colours and technique?

Gill - Cornwall


I painted a series of small watercolours based on the beaches and waterways here in southern Queensland. Most of the paintings were either early morning or late afternoon light. I found transparent washes were the best way to build up the warm soft glow in the sky.

Try using Rose Madder (or Permanent Rose), Auroline and Cobalt Blue. They are transparent, non staining colours and can be built up wash after wash to produce beautiful luminous effects. It is a good idea to experiment on the back of an old painting with different strengths and combinations, allowing each wash to dry before applying the next one.

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