Aquazol vs Gum Arabic binder in watercolour

Here are some unscientific tests between the Aquazol binder that's used in QoR watercolour and gum arabic used by many other brands.

Aquazol (Poly(2-ethyl-w-oxazoline) was first patented in 1977 by Dow® Chemical. It's a watersoluble polymer designed as a substitute to gum arabic.

Aquazol is said to be able to hold more pigment than gum arabic. Based on the swatches above, the colours from QoR, Daniel Smith and Maimeriblu all look very intense.

Aquazol is supposed to be transparent as opposed to gum arabic which has a light yellow tint. Have you ever open a tube of watercolour and the gum arabic has separated and flowed out? Remember that colour? It's light yellow. However when watercolour is diluted, the light yellow doesn't really affect the colours.

Another characteristic of Aquazol is its strength. It's said to be able to resist cracking more so than gum arabic. This and its resoluble behaviour allows conservators to use Aquazol for conserving painting. You can read more about Aquazol in conservation practice here and here.

These are colour mixes created within brand. There's not much visible difference. The colours from Daniel Smith may look like they don't blend as softly but that's just my technique which is off.

These are colour swatches created by mixing with other brands. QoR + DS means the top colour is QoR and the bottom is Daniel Smith.

It seems like Aquazol and gum arabic watercolours have no problem mixing together.

The only part where I see a difference is when working wet on wet.

When you drop QoR watercolour onto a wet surface, a lighter version of the colour will "explode" outwards while the concentrated paint spreads slowly. With other brands, the paint would move but not is such a dramatic manner.

Click for a larger view.

For the picture above, I dropped Quinacridone Magenta (PR122), and while the wash is still wet, I added Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150). The paper was flat and it seems like the blending wasn't as smooth as I expected. When working on angled paper, the blend may be smoother.

I've reviewed QoR watercolor before and the quality is good. As for Aquazol vs gum arabic, for painters or casual sketchers, the difference is not significant. Art conservators may appreciate the Aquazol characteristics more.

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I think I read somewhere that

I think I read somewhere that QoR watercolors do not granulate. That put me off because I am the Granulation Queen. I assumed it has something to do with the lack of Gum Arabic. I also read that QoR watercolors are not a good bargain because you only get 8ml size tubes for the money. So with these negatives factored in, I never tried them. Good review here, Teoh, as usual.
Often when I am on YouTube, I will think oh questions or interest in some art product and I look around and you have reviewed it. Thank you for being there.

The QoR watercolors

The QoR watercolors granulates just like any other watercolor, depending on the size of the pigments (as a general rule). The smaller the pigments are ground, the less they granulate because of the penetration of paper. The Aquazol doesn't inhibit the pigments from clustering together (granulating). Look at any colorchart from QoR, and you'll see that the Ultramarine i.e. is very granulating, and makes the most beautiful, heavily granulated colors when mixed with other, less granulating ones.

I think the main difference you actually see with the QoR, are its ability to contain pigments. If you do a wash comparison, you'll see that the QoR needs to be diluted a lot more (!) than regular gum arabic - based watercolors to achieve the same wash out. This means you'll need a lot less paint.
I.E. Green Gold is a perfect color to do a wash with because of the yellow undertone that emerges when the color is diluted "enough".

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