Michael Harding Watercolor - Lightfastness, Fugitive Pigment Color Chart.

Michael Harding watercolors are a new professional grade paint line released October 2022. These are made with gum arabic and honey, the extra humectant will likely assist in easy re-wetting. I expect there to be some stickiness to these paints, particularly when used dry in your own empty half pans. If you paint outdoors in humid environments (rain season/tropics/Florida) these may not be ideal for mess-free travel. Like other watercolors that use honey as a humectant (such as White Nights, Sennelier or MGraham) these have the potential to remain fluid or sticky to the touch when dry. I look forward to seeing how these perform for difficult pigments like Potters Pink and Viridian, which require extra moisture in any brand.

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Where to buy? You can purchase Michael Harding watercolors for worldwide shipping through Jackson's: Individual tubes here or bundle tube sets here. View all available items on his brand page here (at the time of product launch, this page also had an individual cobalt teal blue shade that had been listed separately).

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The price is on the high end for pro grade paints, but not unusually so (similar to Schmincke for those shopping to the USA, but not quite as outrageous as Old Holland). Overall this brand does not compete with the more affordable Roman Szmal for rare and granulating pigments, and there are cheaper basic primary mixing colors available from other brands like Rosa Gallery, White Nights or Da Vinci.


Uncommon pigments include the fugitive Rose Madder NR9, PY180 and PO34. I'm happy to see the lightfast genuine Lapis Lazuli which is competitively priced, and they also have the PG19 variant of Cobalt Green Deep. Unfortunately that was more expensive, so despite loving PG19's intense granulation, I decided that the roughly $20 per 15ml tube was a little too costly for an initial test of this brand. I may pick it up later if the cheaper colors impress me. At this time, there are no options for lower cost small tubes or dry pan options. Cheaper common pigments are averaging about $12USD, some of which are about double the price of those cheaper brands I mentioned.

-Granulation eval teal n potters vs other brands-

Lightfast issues: It will take time to fully evaluate this brand and lightfastness, but I have begun by isolating which problem pigments are present in the color chart. 

There are many fugitive colors included in this line (probably because they were historically well-loved) such as PR83 alizarin crimson and NR9 rose madder. There are also modern pigments, like PY83, PR177 and PR170 that are prone to terrible fading in the diluted range for watercolor. PR112, PO34, PY180 are also questionable (LFII at best in thick full strength masstone, LFIII-IV at worst in pale diluted washes).

Moonlight, using the same ingredients as DS Moonglow, contains the questionable PR177. Golden, the company that makes Qor, has gone out of their way to secure the most UV durable version of PR177 I've ever seen. However, Daniel Smith, Roman Szmal, Da Vinci, Paul Rubens and every other brand I've tested of it has used a cheap chemically inferior version that is not suitable for professional/fine art (for sale/long term wall display). Pigments are made differently at each chemical plant, resulting in tiny differences that don't change the pigment code number but do hurt the lightfastness. I do not know if MHarding has secured a rare durable version, but it would be safer to assume Alizarin Claret and Moonlight are prone to fading until otherwise proven.

It is not yet clear if the van dyke brown is a hue using the more lightfast PBr8, or if it's genuine NBr8 (natural brown 8, fugitive). Pigment suppliers themselves have a bad habit of mixing earth brown pigment codes up. Cornelissen and Son's pigment supply note that Lignite/brown coal (often fugitive) is present in their VDB, yet label it PBr8 with superior LF. I usually follow up with the watercolor manufacturer's website for further info (but it was not yet active for this paint line). I'm not confident that this is a lightfast color. It would be super helpful if companies reliably labeled colors as "hue" or even "permanent" when they have had a change from the historical pigment used under that name.

michael harding watercolor pigment code chart for lightfast issues fugitive


This brand has many familiar mixtures you may recognize from Daniel Smith's catalog (similar special effect colors have since become so popular that brands like DaVinci, Roman Szmal and Schmincke who now also carry color separating mixtures).

-compare forest and moss to ds serpentine and cascade green-

While these are easy to replicate by mixing any smooth, non textural color with a granulating one, these beautiful convenience mixtures can save you time and effort recreating the effect.


michael harding watercolor chart pigment info lightfast recommendations


Example art images, quality/performance notes are in progress.

I purchased 7 colors in October of 2022 for initial evaluation. I may decide to explore this brand further in the future, if quality expectations are met.


Swatch cards:


One of my favorite places to shop for a world-wide selection watercolor paint and brushes is Jackson's. They have affordable shipping to the USA and a lovely selection of items not easily found in American stores.

If you'd like to see how these swatch cards compare to other paints, check out the pigment database to see each color side by side against the same color from another brand.


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