Paint test, part 2

Oil Paint test: Is the additional cost of high quality oil paints justified? – Part 2

By popular demand, an answer to the following question: Are W&N Winton paints a waste of your money?

It’s now 2 years ago since I started to test the colour lightfastness of a few brands of paints to see the effect of being exposed to direct sunlight on the paint. Subject to this test are Winsor & Newton Winton (student grade), Winsor & Newton Artist’s colours and Leroux 4 star paints.

It’s important to note that I did not use paint mixtures, just pure paint straight out of the tube. It would be worth the effort to study the effect of light on mixtures too, but until now, I have no idea how or where to start this, simply because the possibilities are endless.

The student grade paint I used during my time at the academy was Winsor & Newton Winton. For people learning to paint, these student grade paints have certain advantages: they are a lot cheaper than artist’s grade paints and they come in bigger tubes.

The disadvantages of such paints is that the tubes contain more than just pigments and oil. There is also a filler used. To my personal taste, the worst effect of this filler is the stiffness it causes. Especially if you have paints on your palette that you don’t always use. The effect is mostly ennoying with titanium white, where the Winton version becomes very thick and stiff after a few days. It makes it a lot harder to control your brush strokes.

Student grade paints are said to be less lightfast and are therefor not recommended for the serious artist.
I want to see how much of this unwritten law is true.

That being said, I’ve seen pictures of internationally wellknown painters using Winton paints. If they can do it, we can too, right?

Anyway, back to the test.

Here’s my initial post, with the results after 1 year of patience:
Oil Paint test: Part 1

Now 2 years in the test, I’m facing rather surprizing results.
See for yourself!

The left panels represent the paints that have been kept in the dark. The right panels are the ones that have been kept in daylight.


That’s right, you read that correctly. 24 months later, there are differences noticable, particularly in the whites and yellows. But isn’t it surprizing to see that it’s not the exposed colours that destabilize? It’s the ones that are kept in the dark that seem to change! At first I was in doubt but as I’ve written down “kept in the dark” and “kept in daylight” on the back of each panel accordingly, there is no mistake: These paints hold better in daylight than in darkness. At least, at first sight.

Let’s have a look at the Titanium Whites.

Of the exposed ones, the Leroux seems the most stable to me. Let’s not be mislead by the darkened, yellowish white that the unexposed half of it has become. Compared to the initial colour, this white seems to be the most stable white.

The Winton Titanium white, however, seems the whitest, or should I say the lightest colour of the 3 whites. Too bad it’s too stiff.

The W&N Artist Titanium white seems a bit warmer in hue than the Leroux version, which for me is a determining factor in usage. If I want a mixture that has white in it to cool the hue I mix it with, I will use the Leroux. If I’d rather minimize the cooling effect (which white always has when mixing a colour with it), I’ll use the W&N.

Next up, Lemon Yellow.

I’m again ignoring the unexposed half here because I’m mainly interested in how the paints look after exposure.
The W&N Artist’s Lemon Yellow has darkened a tiny bit compared to 2 years ago, but other than that, I can’t see a difference. It has also lost a bit of it’s intensity. Speaking of intensity, I think the Winton version is holding up pretty well here, don’t you agree?

Cadmium Yellow

Just like 2 years ago, the Leroux cad yellow is brighter than the other 2 brands. It leans less towards read than the W&N versions. To me, these W&N cad yellows are really orange. This Winton version is keeping up well with the professional standard paints again.

Cadmium Red

All three cad reds are very stable colours, with the Winton version coming out a bit more intense and glossier than the other 2, who’ve become quite matte by now.


Same with Alizarin. They are very stable and I don’t see a difference between two years ago. This is somewhat surprizing as Alizarin is supposed to be one of the lesser lightfast colours in each paint manufacturer’s gamma. Some say using this colour should be avoided at all costs, but who can resist such an intense warmness? I sure cannot. It’s one of my favourite colours. The W&N Artist’s version is my favourite due to it’s slightly higher chroma and transparancy.

Cobalt Blue

Again, very stable results after 2 years of exposure. The W&N being slightly more transparant and the Leroux leaning more towards Ultramarine than the other 2.

Cerulean Blue

The Winton version is glossier than the other 2. Its chroma is also intenser, blue-er (if that is a word). The Leroux version seems to have lost some of it’s colour intensity, I’m not a fan of this, although I think cerulean can be important when painting the human figure, I’ve not used it for quite a while now.

French Ultramarine

Sadly, no Leroux  version of this. It’s price makes this a paint reserved for the more established painter, I would say.
But both the Winton and the Artist’s version of W&N seem to be stable. I could be wrong but they may have darkened just a tad. Personally, I don’t mind at all as it’s one of my favourite colours. I use the Artist’s version for my work since I started this test 2 years ago.

Final thoughts

I think there is no doubt that we’re in it for the long haul, if we want to see big differences. 2 years just isn’t long enough to see big differences. The Winton colours hold up very well, compared to the much pricier professional standard paints… so far. Of course, in the life span of a decent painting, 2 years is nothing. As painters, we hope our collectors can enjoy our work for many, many years.

So far so good.
To be continued…