In 2015 I made my own watercolour paints. I do these sort of things out of sheer curiosity. I wanted to know how they were made in order to learn first hand, what makes watercolour work. Then I had to start the process of testing my handmade paints. (Read about the process of making them in this blog post).
After that, the fun of using them begins.

Until I tested the paints for consistency and lightfastness, I was not going to use them in any painting that were for sale. I had to be able to guarantee the quality of my materials and while the handmade watercolours are really interesting to make, they were not yet tried and tested.

First I decided to get to know them by painting a series of very simple greeting cards which were sent off to family and friends.

The paper used was a Fabriano pre-cut watercolour greeting card pack. It’s quite soft and takes paint well, but has a tendency to blur a little. However, for it’s purpose, it was absolutely fine.

Watercolour painting of trees and water


The Testing Process

Here’s my testing process:

Pigment swatches in a sketchbook

Naturally, I creating swatches in my colour journal. The details will be added as I get confirmation of the characteristics of each paint.

Testing my handmade paints - Pigment test Sheets. All 13 colours


I also wanted to see how the paint reacted in different papers.  As I mixed them, I tried each one on three sheets of watercolour papers of various weights and textures. They reacted well on all of them. Then I checked specifically for colour fastness – which took some time. (Two years to be precise).

To do that, I painted a stripe of each of my 13 handmade watercolours on two different papers. One is a 300lb watercolour paper, and the other a mixed media paper.

Testing my handmade paints - Pigment test strips

Each sheet was sliced down the middle. Half of each sheet was put in a brown envelope and placed between large books on my bookshelf to block out as much light as possible. The other half of each sheet was positioned on a south facing windowsill where it was exposed to daily sunshine.

Here’s another watercolour project I did way back then:  Wash a Week Challenge website.

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Testing My Handmade Paints: the conclusion

After two years I went back to my sheets of paper to see how the paints had done. I am thrilled. It worked perfectly.

The paper that had been in the sunlight had yellowed, but the pigment was as vibrant as it had been on the day it was painted.  This was obvious when I laid the sheet that had been kept in the dark alongside the sheet that was constantly exposed to bright light. I guess my watercolours are ready to use in earnest.