11 Oct

Hello and welcome to a new blog entry where I talk about my watercolour lightfastness tests in-depth. 

Today we're going to take a look at the Beam Paints watercolour swatches, pigment information included.

These tests were put up to receive daily sunlight on 24th June 2021 and the photos on this blog entry were taken on October 9th 2021.

So it's been roughly 3 months of aggressive sun exposure on my roof top. 

What are Beam Paints? 

Beam Paints is a Canadian based indigenous small business that creates plastic free art materials. According to their website, their paints are lightfast pigments, tree sap, Manitoulin honey, and gum Arabic blended together to create a handmade saturated colour that is a joy to paint with.

If you want to know more about this small business check out their page: 


The problem with advertising fugitive paints as 'excellent lightfastness' 

Beam Paints have some highly fugitive colours in their collection that aren't good for archival work. This is not an issue for everyone, what doesn't work for an artist may work for a different one. Plus the company also offers a lot of stable and lightfast paints that won't be a problem for those who sell their art or hang it on walls.

When I put up the watercolor swatches to test their light resistance, I didn't expect so many of them to start showing signs of fading in just 1 or 2 months. I decided to use the fugitive colours for sketchbook practice and artwork I was going to scan to prevent unwanted fading of sold art.

So what's the problem with the colours not being lightfast and why is this blog title so dramatic?

The problem is they shamelessly advertise all their paints as lightfast and deny any fading when customers talk about their experience or comment under their social media posts. 

Beam Paints fugitive colours Fall Poplar Yellow being advertised by the company as excellent lightfastness

A week ago this post was uploaded by the official Beam Paints account on Instagram and, being the pigment nerd I am, I respectfully pointed out this beautiful yellow is not lightfast and advertising it as such is misleading at best. 

I left that comment because I genuinely loved the company and believed I was giving constructive criticism and helping fellow Beam Paints supporters, not because I was throwing hate, in fact I was stating facts.

My comment got deleted and they kept advertising their paints as having excellent lightfastness. 

I found that to be extremely dishonest of them, unprofessional and terrible customer relationship building. 

On a personal note, I didn't imagine they would handle the situation like that, I was genuinely trying to be helpful because I love the paints and I know from this year's Daniel Smith controversy that customers appreciate honest marketing. 

The actual tests

This was a short lightfastness update video I posted on my YouTube channel on October 3rd 2021.

On the video you can see how my lightfastness tests work: for each colour I lay down two swatches of paint, one is in masstone and the other one below is diluted. 

Comparison chart that shows Beam Paints swatches after 3 months of sun exposure next to Beam Paints swatches kept inside a drawer. It contains pigment information and all the fugitive colours

Please take sometime to review the image above as it contains all the information needed to avoid fugitive colours from Beam Paints. 

If you want to read a longer in-depth explanation, keep going! 💪🏻

Now the colours that faded the most and started fading quicker were Summer Sun Red PR170 and Mayan Indigo (pigment undisclosed). I wasn't surprised about the indigo as most Mayan pigments aren't lightfast, but the red shocked me. 

A quick google research and I found out PR170 is a well known fugitive pigments so I wondered why would this company use a fugitive pigment and promote the product as lightfast. 

In the photo above you can see several fugitive colours. Actually those are quite a lot! All their convenience colours in the orange range (Pumpkin PR170+PY74, Bread PY43+PR170, Morning Peach Ocher PY74+PR170+PW6) are fugitive because they all contain either PY74, PR170 or both. 

Fall Poplar Yellow PY74 dramatically faded after 2-3 months of sun exposure. The diluted watercolour swatch completely disappeared from the paper and left a blank space. 

This colour being fugitive is something that not only affects the orange range of convenience colours, but also the greens like Spring Green (PY74+PB15:1) seen below.

Other fugitive colours that have faded after 3 months of sun exposure are their pastel paintstone Lavender (PV23+PW6) and the previously mentioned Mayan Indigo (undisclosed pigment). 

They seem to be using a fugitive version of the often problematic pigment PV23 for their Lavender (PV23+PW6) which makes me think their Dioxacine violet (PV23) is fugitive, too. 

Complete list of fugitive paints in the Beam Paints range

It's important to take into account they offer more colours in their shop that contain all the fugitive paints that I haven't purchased myself. 

I made a list of all the fugitive colours in their collection so you can avoid them and stick to truly lightfast pigments in case you want to buy some Beam Paints.

The criteria I used to carefully gather all the fugitive and stable colours into two lists was whether or not they contain the pigments that fade, meaning PR170, PY74, PV23, and PB27 (Prussian blue, a fugitive blue). 

I left out all the mica and lakebed gathered colours as I can't state if they're lightfast without testing them. I don't want to mislead anyone. 

Beam Paints fugitive colours:

Neebin Giizis’aande-Summer Sun Red: PR170

Kosmaan’aande-Pumpkin: PY74, PR170

Qwejigun-Bread: PY43, PR170

Kizheb’aande-Morning Peach: PY74, PR170, PW6

Dwaagi’Azaadibuk’aande-Fall poplar yellow: PY74

Zhaawbmide-Butter: PY74, PW6

Memmemgwanh Waaskoneh’aande -Milkweed (butterfly flower): PB15:1, PY74, PW6 

Ziigwun’aande-Spring green: PB15:1, PY74

Shingwauk’aande-Pine: PB15:1, PY74

Prussian Blue: PB27

Waaskonense-Violet (small flower): PB15:1, PV23

Miin’aande Azhbikoong (blueberry mountain): PV23

Gaatchi Waaskonense-Lavender (tiny small flower): PV23, PW6 

Chi’ngwaankwat (Very Cloudy)-Payne’s Grey: PB29, PY43, PR170

Ngwanquat (Cloud)-Ultra grey: PB29, PY43, PR170, PW6

Beam Paints lightfast colours:

Wiigwaasmin’aande-Cherry Magenta:  PR122

Mshikenh Misud-Turtle Belly: PR122, PY3

Mars Violet: PR101

Chiigbii Giinii’aande-Beach Rose: PR122, PW6

Ginii Aande-Wild Rose: PR122, PW6

Harvest Wheat: PY43Doodooshabo’aande-Cream: PW6

Cloudless Sulphur-hansa light: PY3

Salish Sea: PG7

Mtigwaaking-Boreal: PG17

Robins Egg Blue: PG7, PW6

Lake Huron Teal: PG7

Geygaa Naakshek'aande-Almost night: PB15:1

Gchigaaming’aande-Great Ocean: PB29

Giizhgaande-Sky Blue: PB15:1, PW6

Mkwum’aande-Ice Blue: PB29, PW6

Zhoomin’aande-Grape PV15

Zhiibiigun’Aazhbik-Slate ( society of French ochres earth)


Awun (fog)-Grey Ocher (Society of French Ochres earth)

Mkdeh’aande-Mars Black: PBK11

Limestone White: PW6

I hope you find this blog entry useful and informative, let me know what you think about this in the comments. 

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