Jackson's Pigment Powders Review, Tips, Handmade Watercolor Swatch Cards.
Jackson's UK is an art store with a huge selection. They ship worldwide & offer many brands of pre-made watercolors & acrylics, as well as their own store brand paints. They also offer pigment powders for those who wish to make handmade paints, including watercolor, acrylic, oil, PVA / vinyl, gouache & more. You can find their pigment powder selection online here.
Jackson's offers a few pigments that are not commonly found in ready-made paints. The following pigments are only offered by a few major paint brands and it may be more affordable to try them in powder form: PR259 Ultramarine Pink, PBk19 Slate, a natural unrefined version of red iron oxide Caput Mortum PR102, multiple shades of graphite PBk10 (including the larger particle, less carbon more mica "graphite silver" version).
They also offer binders needed to mix these powders into a useable paint here. You can find gum arabic for making watercolor, refined linseed oil for mulling oil paint, polymer acrylic mediums (Schmincke and Sennelier make "acrylic binder" but be aware that you can also use any brands acrylic medium). Gloss mediums are pure clear acrylic, but will result in a shiny paint. Matte has added matting agents and sometimes opacifiers to create a cloudy matte surface. An affordable alternative to acrylic is PVA glue for making poly vinyl acetate paints similar to L&B Flashe or Maimeri Polycolor, and oil. You can find PVA most cheaply as Elmers glue (the cheap white school glue), but there are also acid free/ph neutral brands that are specifically made for fine art.
If you experience clumping or have issues mixing powders with your liquid binders I recommend pre soaking your powder before mixing. For watercolor this could be as simple as misting them with purified water before introducing gum arabic (not tap water, to avoid introducing mold spores). This is most needed when making acrylic, where adding diluted acrylic medium, water and a drop of retarder (slow dry medium) into your powder can help it combine with binder without clumps.
Most pigments will readily mix with binders, but some may require extra mulling (glass slab style or using a mortar and pestle bowl for watercolor). It appears that quinacridones are more difficult to work with than earth minerals. For difficult pigments that are hydrophobic (reject water, clump up and refuse to form a paste) a dispersing agent may be helpful. These types of surfactant / detergents are more difficult to obtain, can be toxic and are only recommended for large scale projects. The easiest ones to find are for acrylic paint making. Golden makes a wonderful wetting aid, which is a concentrated surfactant you'll need to heavily dilute with water according to the directions on the bottle. It will reduce surface tension allowing easier mixing of pigments with binder. There is also an option from Liquitex called Flow Aid. I have not yet tested these wetting agents with other types of binders.
The quality of Jackson's pigment powders are very high and the prices are reasonable for those doing small production (for yourself or limited quantity handmade paint sellers). It is likely that these powders mainly come from L Cornelissen & Son.
Small container size: Affordable 25g or 100g plastic tubs of powder are available from Jacksons, but if you are looking for the best way to buy bulk pigments (in kg/lbs instead of smaller tubs) then I recommend looking into Kremer Pigment which operates out of Germany, but also has a NY office for those ordering within the USA. Note that tubs are filled by weight, not volume, so you will receive fluctuating amounts of partially filled containers. This is normal when buying pigments, rarely are they sold by the jar (as in filled to the top).
Particle size issues: A few pigments may have a large particle size and may not be well suited for weak, water-soluble binders like gum arabic. This binder may not be able to hold the particles to the page without rubbing off. When I see that a pigment has a large particle size I will note it on the swatch card below and recommend caution when making paints with these colors. Kremer pigments is much better about giving you information regarding when a pigment powder is fine or coarse, often supplying the particle size - important information which Jackson's lacks.
Swatch cards of paints that I have made using Jackson's pigment powders:
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