Artist grade or student grade?

Artist grade is excellent but expensive. Student grade is good, budget-friendly alternative.

When I started watercolor painting, I was using student grade Koi paints, and loved them. I had a few Winsor & Newton Cotman tubes, too. But as I learned more advanced techniques, I wanted to upgrade to artist grade paints. For example, layering works beautifully with artist grade paints.

But here’s the problem with artist grade paints — brace yourself for this…

Artist grade paints are expensive.

I bought one 15 ml tube for $25. I had to have that color. How many times have I used it? Ummm <blush>, that’s a rather personal question. You are being a little too nosy. ?

Good news: there are some artist grade brands on the lower end of the cost spectrum: Turner, SoHo, White Nights. Your wallet loves these brands.

Another option is to use a small, select number of artist grade paints. Using a limited palette can make your paintings more harmonious.

But for those of us on a budget, and who don’t feeling like we’re really painting unless we have a huge number of paints scattered across our workspace, student grade is a reasonable alternative.

Student grade paints have fillers, less pigment, and may not be as translucent as an artist grade, but they are still good. Most student grade paint today is as good as artist quality was 35 years ago. (I did not make that up. I have read it on many sites on the internet, some reputable artist sites, and we all know if it’s on the internet, it’s true.)

Related articles:

Choosing the colors for a limited palette

More ways to stretch your paint-buying budget

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