There is a lot to learn by just looking at the label of a paint tube. Of course, the manufacturer’s name can usually be seen right away. Their address, phone number, and/or website is usually listed in smaller print. Whether it is an oil, an acrylic, or another medium is also clearly indicated as well as the volume of the paint tube in milliliters or fluid ounces. However, there is much more to learn by looking at the label that will help any artist in selecting the right paint for their work of art.
Each pigment is identified by a Color Index Name: PR (P for Pigment, R for Red), PW (Pig ment White), PY (Yellow), PBk (Black), PBr (Brown), PG (Green), PV (Violet), etc. … A number for the specific type of pigment is also assigned. For example, PR 170 is Naphthol Red AS. This pigment might have a different Marketing name. In the picture here, the PR 170 is called Shiva Red Medium (Richeson Oils). The next number listed (12475) is the Chemical Constitution Number. A tube may contain more than one pigment. For example, the tube on the right is made with three pigments! When faced with the same or similar names in paint tubes by different manufacturers, or when one is a HUE, check the pigments. They might be different! The HUE one might be a cheaper pigment and the lightfast might not be as good! Whether Acrylic or Oil, check your pigments and compare! Here is a website which is a great source for everything you ever wanted to know about Pigments:
THE SERIES NUMBER
The series on the label refers to the price group. Certain paints are more costly to manufacture according to the price of the pigment used to make them, the quantity and quality of the pigment, or simply the process. Manufacturers group the colors into price bands assigning a letter or a number to these bands which are also known as “Series”. Higher series number or series letters indicate a higher production cost and a higher price for the paint. For example a Series A is less expensive than a Series B. Consequently a Series 1 would be cheaper to manufacture than a Series 2. The picture illustrating this portion is an acrylic paint tube from Golden Artist Colors, an sponsor for NOAPS Best of America Exhibit 2014. Golden Artist Colors is sponsoring the Best Acrylic Painting Award this year.
Lightfastness of a paint color or pigment is very important! It indicates how permanent, resistant to change, or how unaffected by light it is. Paint colors can fade or alter when exposed to light and time. This could change the look and quality of an art work.
The two most used rating systems are the ASTM (American Standard Test Measure) and the Blue Wool System (the British system). The American Standard Test Measure (ASTM) gives ratings from I to V. (I excellent, II very good, III fair or non-permanent, IV and V poor and very poor)
The British system (Blue Wool Standard) rates lightfastness One to Eight. Eight being Excellent and One being the worst.
Look at the Lightfastness in the chart here for the Richeson Oil Paints Shiva Series, one of our sponsors for NOAPS Best of America Exhibit 2014.
The requirements for health warnings may vary according to the country or even the state. Specific information will be listed under a caution or warning on the label. It might also refer to ASTM conformity or present the ACMI Approved Product Seal.
The ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials), “is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. Today, some 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade, and build consumer confidence” ( extracted from http://www.astm.org/ABOUT/overview.html). For more information refer to their site.
The ACMI (The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc.) seal is an indicator to look for on the label since it certifies that the paint is either non-toxic (AP Seal) for adults or children or Cautionary Labeling (CL Seal) where health warnings are required. However, even the non-toxic seal does not indicate that the paint can be used for body painting or ingested. Golden Artists Colors best express it on their products as shown here: