The Art of Choice: Unravelling the Mystery of Professional Art Paints

June 17, 2023
The Art of Choice: Unravelling the Mystery of Professional Art Paints
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At Bradbury Art, a family-run art store nestled in the heart of Belfast, we're passionate about all things art. As connoisseurs and suppliers of fine art materials, we often get asked why professional art paints are pricier than their basic counterparts.

Today, we're here to shed some light on this topic and explain why investing in professional paints, like those from esteemed brands such as Winsor Newton, Michael Harding could be a game-changer for your artistic creations.

The Hue and the Pure: Understanding Pigments

A key factor in the price and quality of art paints lies in the pigments used. Basic or student-quality paints often contain 'hue' pigments. These are synthetic formulations designed to mimic the colour of pure pigments but at a lower cost. While hues can closely resemble the colour they are imitating, they often lack the same vibrancy and may not behave in quite the same way as their pure pigment counterparts.

On the other hand, professional paints use pure pigments, which are derived directly from minerals and organic sources. These pigments tend to give richer, more vivid colours and better lightfastness (resistance to fading when exposed to light). This makes pure pigmented colours particularly attractive to professional artists who value the longevity and vibrancy of their work.

A Peek Inside a Professional's Studio

So, what do most professional artists paint on? They typically choose surfaces that are durable and can hold up to layers of paint and other mediums. Canvases, wood panels, or high-quality paper are common choices. The choice of surface often depends on the artist's personal preference, the medium they're using, and the intended lifespan and treatment of the artwork.

Decoding the Series Numbers

When you pick up a tube of professional paint, you'll often find a series number. This is a classification system used by manufacturers to indicate the cost of the pigments used in the paint. Lower series numbers generally indicate less expensive pigments, while higher series numbers are used for more costly pigments.

While this might make it tempting to stick to lower series numbers, remember that each pigment has its unique properties, and some colours just can't be replicated with less expensive pigments. Therefore, selecting paints should be about choosing the right tool for your vision, not just about cost.

Are Professional Paints Worth the Investment?

At first glance, professional paints might seem like a significant expense. However, their advantages often make them worth the investment. The higher pigment load in professional paints not only results in more vibrant colours, but it also often means that you'll use less paint to achieve the desired intensity. This could make professional paints go further than their basic equivalents.

Additionally, the improved blending capabilities of professional paints can help artists achieve subtle tonal transitions more easily, allowing for a wider range of artistic effects. Furthermore, the increased lightfastness of professional paints ensures that your artwork will retain its colour and vibrancy for a longer period, which is particularly important for pieces intended for sale or exhibition.

Conclusion: Your Art, Your Choice

As with many things in life, when it comes to art supplies, you often get what you pay for. While professional paints do carry a higher price tag, their superior vibrancy, longevity, and versatility can elevate your artwork and be a worthy investment.

However, the best art materials for you ultimately depend on your individual needs, style, and budget. Whether you're a budding hobbyist or a seasoned professional, Bradbury Art in Belfast is here to guide you in making the best choice from our range of quality art supplies, including renowned brands such as Winsor Newton, Michael Harding.


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