Wednesday, January 1, 2014


During the years that I studied visual arts drawing modules, I bought several tubes of Art Spectrum watercolours. Made in Australia they have a nice range of colours unique to our Australian landscape. I don't use watercolours very often, I tend to use gouache paints for my tapestry designs. During a studio tidy up I discovered that many of my watercolours had dried up in their tubes making them almost impossible to use. Watercolours are expensive and I had many of the series 3 and 4 which retail for around $13 and $16 each now. I could not justify going out and buying new what to do with them?
I have a large collection of Chinese tea cups, so each day I cut open several tubes, placed the contents in a teacup and covered the dried up paint with water to re hydrate them. Once they were re hydrated I spooned some of the paint into the above palette. What I did not count on was that once the paints dried they cracked badly, Brilliant Red being the worst. This meant that once the palette was closed the loose paint would contaminate all the other colours. Frustrating as I had spent quite a bit of time waiting for them to dry. It occurred to me that the ones that cracked badly were not as glossy in appearance, so maybe they had less binder? I bought a bottle of Gum Arabic, the binder used in watercolours and used this to re hydrate the paints in the palette. It worked perfectly, no more cracking!
As the palette takes very little paint, what to do with the rest of the paint from the tubes?  

For $2 from the Reject Shop I bought a container that is made to keep prescription medicines in. Seven separate containers each with 4 separate sealed compartments. Once the palette was full of colours I wised up and re hydrated my paints in each of the compartments. In retrospect I should have put a bit more thought into what colours I put into each of the four compartments. As each is separate you don't have to carry them around all at once. I labeled the top of each compartment with the name of the colour using masking tape and a laundry marker and added pages of samples to my journal. If I was making up a travel set using these containers. I would not fill each container, as it is a bit heavy and I like to travel light. I am using a small palette and carry a small spray bottle of water, as it helps to moisten the paints. I have bought a second container and will squeeze out some of my gouache paints into it. Then I can carry a mixture of watercolour and gouache.
Last year when I was in Canberra I went with Ruth to her weekly art class. One of the group members works a lot in watercolours and was showing me an expensive Schmincke  palette that he had bought and filled with his own choice of colours. I explained what I had done with my watercolours, surprised at such a simple solution........did you patent it?
No! but I hope that sharing the experience will help others with the same problem, this solution has worked well for me.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tips. I probably won't follow them as I rarely paint but it is great to see invention on the go. And to see that people have leftover paints and can rejuvenate them. It makes me feel better about all the stuff that I have yet to throw out - it may be useful one day!
    Happy New Year too.


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