full view of test card at 6 months
sun-exposed half on left
same card – sun-exposed half moved to right
This is the last post for the lightfastness tests of Mission Gold watercolors that I began in mid-January. For the last month, I had the sun-exposed card in a window that got much more sun and there was even more fading to the dodgy colors. As I explained in detail last month, the fading was not unexpected because the pigments used in those colors are rated as poor to fugitive.
Since I posted my previous update, I have had several emails from Dennis Kapp, the chairman of the board of the Martin/F.Weber company, which distributes the Mijello Mission Gold watercolors in the U.S. Needless to say, he was not happy to see my negative review and said he wished I'd told them about my tests so he could have given me newer, more lightfast colors. Fortunately, I kept the email correspondence I'd had with his employee, starting with the sample set I received in mid-September, in which I'd pointed out that there were problems with the pigments used in the line. Although she told me in early January that they were beginning to look at lightfastness matters and would update me, I never heard another word until I received Mr. Kapp's first email in late June.
According to Mr. Kapp, Mijello has reformulated 50 of the 90 colors in the line after receiving feedback at a watercolor society opening last year that there might be a lightfastness problem. (I strongly suspect that the feedback to which he is referring was set in motion by my comments to a watercolorist friend during the National Watercolor Society reception in late September last year. My friend brought my concerns to the attention of a watercolorist friend of his -- a woman who had been distributing sample sets of Mission Gold at the NWS reception. But perhaps somebody else also expressed alarm about the pigments.)
In his first email, Mr. Kapp listed the pigment changes to the paints that I tested. I've checked them against the lists of reliable pigments, and they are all acceptable. He also explained that they are creating two versions of some colors -- those labelled as "bright" will be less lightfast.
Mr. Kapp tells me that they have been shipping the newly formulated colors to their dealers for about 60 days now and have instructed their dealers to give replacements for any of the fugitive colors, even if the tubes have been partially used.
Here are some ways to check on pigments: both Michael Wilcox's The Wilcox Guide to the Best Watercolor Paints and Hilary Page's Guide to Watercolor Paints are available through online booksellers, although both are now somewhat out of date -- quite a few new pigments have been added to the world of art since they were published. I also know of two websites that deal with pigments: Handprint and Art is Creation -- Handprint is chock full of information, but the pigment charts on Art is Creation are much easier to read.
I hope you have found this series of posts instructive and helpful. I strongly feel that artists must demand quality materials -- to accept less is to dishonor our time and talent.