The Difference between Artist and Students Grade Paints

Why does one tube of Cadmium Red Light cost $14
and another is only $2.99?


A condensed explanation is: unless it says «artist» on the tube, it isn’t!

The following information refers to all paint media: Acrylic, Oil, and Watercolor.

You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that the artist grade paints are always more expensive. Here’s why. The only ingredients in the tube are pigment and binder (the vehicle that makes the paint moist and workable). These contain the finest quality paint available to the artist.

In the lesser expensive, student grade paints, they use more binder, lots of filler, and very little of the true pigment — so you may get a synthesized version of the color to keep the cost down.

Now, for beginners, that might be the way to go, especially if you aren’t sure you want to continue in that particular media. Keep in mind, though, the beginner grade paints won’t be quite the same hue or color, are definitely not as light-fast, and won’t mix as nicely as the artist grade colors. That can be an important factor when trying to achieve a certain fabulous Cerulean Blue sky.

Craft paint is a whole different breed. This grade of paint was developed to fill the needs of the crafter who didn’t want to mix paint to get the color they needed and who wanted the paint product to be more of the consistency of wall paint rather than the thicker consistency of paint in a tube.

Some product lines have well over 200 colors available. If you read my article about ‘Color Mixing’, you already know these would not mix very well. That work has already been done for you. Craft paints are usually very opaque to ensure they cover the surface well. A good product to use if you are painting wood furniture, etc.

Having said all that, it is up to you to make the decision about what you should be using. The goal here is to inform so you can make an intelligent choice based on your needs. Because I sell my work, I use the highest quality paints I can afford.

Paint Manufacturer Information:

Artist Grade Paint includes: Golden Artist Colors, Winsor Newton Finity, Liquitex Artist Acrylic, and Grumbacher Finest (my least fave)

Student Grade Paint: Winsor Newton Galeria and Reeves, Liquitex Basics, DaVinci, VanGogh, System 3, and Academy

Craft Paint: Delta Ceramcoat, DecoArt Americana (there are many others but these are about the best of those that come in the 2oz flip top bottle. Not the best for mixing as they have all the primaries, lots of filler, etc.)

In the end, I suggest you do some research and comparisons of your own. Why not buy the same color in both artist and student grade to see how each behaves?

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Have a very creative day.

Donna Engstrom

Please visit my web site to see my work.

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