In this material world, the marks of time can be seen, the material and temperature can be felt, and the emotions in the artist’s brush can be sensed, which is still more touching.
If you also enjoy painting, you can try exploring these traditional pigments. Each brand offers both student and professional grade options. The quality of professional grade pigments is certainly better, offering a brighter saturation that can be felt clearly during use. The pigments also blend well, allowing for a more effective display of skills. To ensure the color remains vivid for years to come, professional grade pigments are worth purchasing as they won’t yellow or fade over time and the raw materials won’t cause the paper to crack or flake. Good pigments have strong adhesion, saturation, and durability, though they will come at a higher price point. Here is my recommended purchase order for those with no prior experience and eager to learn and create on their own:
不透明水彩 | Gouache
This type of material is vivid and intense, and can be mixed with other colors like watercolors. It has a creamy texture and a matte finish, and it covers well, so it’s easy to cover up any mistakes or change the color if desired. It can also be diluted with more water to create a watercolor effect. Because it’s water-soluble, it can be easily washed off with water, without worrying about clogging the color palette. I used it last year to paint a series of works and found it easy to use. In the 19th century, designers used it to achieve a uniform color effect in their designs, such as goods, posters, or urban and landscape planning. It was usually used in commercial models and is therefore also known as advertising pigments.
壓克力顏料 | Acrylic Paint
The strengths of this pigment are its ability to be applied thickly, providing a shiny finish like oil paintings, or diluted with water to achieve a watercolor style. Its strong covering power and variety of vivid colors make it stand out. Once dry, the pigment is completely waterproof and dries much faster than oil paint (in 2-3 hours compared to 2-3 days for oil paint). This fast-drying feature is perfect for those who are impatient. The color palette can be made from a ceramic plate used for eating, which is easier to clean than a plastic palette, but if using a plastic palette, be prepared for the pigment to completely dry on it.
壓克力不透明水彩 | Acrylic Gouache
A standard hybrid pigment possesses the waterproof qualities of acrylic paint and the opaque texture of watercolor with a matte finish. It can also be adjusted to resemble watercolor, making it very appealing! The color palette is made of ceramic, which is easier to clean.
粉蠟筆 | Oil Pastel
This is a medium that I currently love. It can produce thick, dense color, is easily blendable, and can even have a scratch-and-play effect if applied thickly. It comes in two textures: hard and soft. The hard texture feels like a wax pencil, while the soft texture feels like clay. Although using this medium can be wild and make your hands dirty and the environment chaotic, it is a great way to let loose and have fun with your artwork.
蠟筆 | Crayon
This is a pencil that was easily accessible during childhood because of its harder material, which makes it less prone to breaking when dropped and waterproof, reducing the likelihood of getting dirty. However, when rubbed, it creates a lot of crumbs that can easily fall on the floor and be crushed by chairs or footsteps, resulting in a small house of color. Many big brands have also introduced water-soluble wax pencils, giving you the advantage of having three options in one. The wax pencil, when mixed with water, takes on a watercolor feel and can easily mix new colors.
墨水 | Ink
As an Asian, ink is a must-have tool for calligraphy classes! So everyone should have a deeper understanding of the properties of ink. The ink has good adhesion and is not easy to clean. The intensity can be easily adjusted by adding water. There are now more choices: alcohol-based (dries quickly, suitable for blowing with a fan or allowing it to flow naturally to produce an abstract feel), watercolor-based (the color will spread when it touches water, no matter when), and acrylic-based (waterproof, will not spread after it dries, suitable for outlining frames and then applying colors without fear of bleeding).
色鉛筆 | Color Pencils
Elegant and fresh medium, ideal for layering color, can create highly detailed works. Oil-based colored pencils are clean and neat, not making the surroundings messy. However, there are also water-soluble colored pencils that can be used as watercolor pigments.
炭鉛筆 | Charcoal
Charcoal pencils are a good tool for quick sketching and are suitable for drafts or casual drawings.
水彩 | Watercolor
Watercolor is actually about playing with water! You need to be able to accept the feeling of water flow that is beyond your control. Using it can train patience as each time you apply a layer of color, you must wait for the paper to dry before applying the next, or the picture can easily become dirty. The waiting time can be used to have a cup of tea, have a piece of cake, play with a cat, and then leisurely sway back, giving you a relax feeling and a sense of enjoying life. Transparent watercolor means it has high permeability, allowing you to see the clear texture of the paper, giving a feeling of transparency. It is a true expert at interpreting light sources full of air, lake reflections, and transparent glass. However, covering up mistakes is not easy, you must paint from light to dark, as dark colors cannot be returned to light. Moreover, a little pigment can paint a large area, making it easy to carry and a great helper for sketching.
粉彩 | Soft Pastel
It’s similar to the chalk used for writing on blackboards. It’s easy to apply and modify, and the colors are usually vivid, shaped as a long rectangular piece with edges. Using soft pastel will get your hands dirty, and the powder will scatter everywhere. But if you like playing with chalky materials, it’s a great starting point.
油彩 | Oil Paint
Many master artists use a medium that is warm, saturated, and has natural color tones. They use turpentine to clean their brushes and mix colors. The colors are durable and long-lasting and take two to three days to dry. This was a good thing in the era when computer storage was not available, as modifications could still be made within three days.
膠彩 | Eastern Gouache
Oriental paintings or murals from primitive eras, which can be seen in museums, are mostly painted with this medium. The principle involves using powdered mineral materials mixed with glue to make the powdered pigments adhere to objects. The medium is similar to watercolor, requiring layers to be built up from light to dark colors. As a powdered material, adding more powder also gives it some level of opacity, similar to opaque watercolor.
蛋彩 | Tempera
This was a tool used during the Renaissance period, during the time of Leonardo da Vinci. Egg yolk was used as a binder to help the powdered mineral materials stick to paper or canvas. The medium dries quickly and is easily accessible, and I might try it next time, though I am not sure if the paper will have an unpleasant odor.
As for how many colors to buy, it depends on the medium’s ability to mix colors. For example, colored pencils, wax crayons, pastel sticks, and chalks have weaker color mixing abilities, so it might be a good idea to buy more colors. However, for mediums like watercolor, opaque watercolor, acrylic pigments, and oil paint, it’s recommended to start with the basic five colors: yellow, blue, red, white, and black. This way, you can experience the color mixing process and improve your sensitivity to it. Different mediums, such as oil, plastic, wax, water, glue, or egg yolk, can lead to completely different results with the same mineral materials. The human kind is truly amazing with its limitless creativity!
New year, new plan! I hope to use up all my pigments this year and master the use of these media more effectively. Then I can buy even more new pigments! Yippee!
Wishing you all the best!
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