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Watercolor (American English) or watercolour (British English; see spelling differences), also aquarelle (French: [akwaʁɛl] ; from Italian diminutive of Latin aqua "water"),  is a painting method  in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-based  solution. Watercolor refers to both the medium and the resulting artwork. Aquarelles painted with water-soluble colored ink instead of modern water colors are called aquarellum atramento (Latin for "aquarelle made with ink") by experts. However, this term has now tended to pass out of use.  
The conventional and most common support — material to which the paint is applied—for watercolor paintings is watercolor paper. Other supports or substrates include stone, ivory, silk, reed, papyrus, bark papers, plastics, vellum, leather, fabric, wood, and watercolor canvas (coated with a gesso that is specially formulated for use with watercolors). Watercolor paper is often made entirely or partially with cotton.   This gives the surface the appropriate texture and minimizes distortion when wet.  Watercolor papers are usually cold-pressed papers that provide better texture and appearance with a weight at least 300 gsm. Under 300 gsm is commonly not recommended for anything but sketching.   Transparency is the main characteristic of watercolors.  Watercolors can also be made opaque by adding Chinese white. This is not a method to be used in "true watercolor" (traditional). 
Watercolor paint is an ancient form of painting, if not the most ancient form of art itself.  In East Asia, watercolor painting  with inks is referred to as brush painting or scroll painting. In Chinese, Korean and Japanese painting  it has been the dominant medium, often in monochrome black or browns, often using inkstick or other pigments. India, Ethiopia and other countries have long watercolor painting traditions as well.
Many Western artists, especially in the early 19th century, used watercolor primarily as a sketching tool in preparation for the "finished" work in oil or engraving.  Until the end of the eighteenth century, traditional watercolors were known as ‘tinted drawings’. 
Watercolor painting is extremely old, dating perhaps to the cave paintings of paleolithic Europe,  and has been used for manuscript illustration since at least Egyptian times, with particular prominence in the European Middle Ages.  However, its continuous history as an art medium begins with the Renaissance. The German Northern Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), who painted several fine botanical, wildlife, and landscape watercolors, is generally considered among the earliest examples of watercolor.  An important school of watercolor painting in Germany was led by Hans Bol (1534–1593) as part of the Dürer Renaissance.
Despite this early start, watercolors were generally used by Baroque easel painters only for sketches, copies or cartoons (full-scale design drawings)  Notable early practitioners of watercolor painting were Van Dyck  (during his stay in England), Claude Lorrain, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, and many Dutch and Flemish artists.  However, botanical illustration and wildlife illustration perhaps form the oldest and most important traditions in watercolor painting. Botanical illustrations became popular during the Renaissance, both as hand-tinted woodblock illustrations in books or broadsheets and as tinted ink drawings on vellum or paper. Botanical artists have traditionally been some of the most exacting and accomplished watercolor painters, and even today, watercolors—with their unique ability to summarize, clarify, and idealize in full color—are used to illustrate scientific and museum publications. Wildlife illustration reached its peak in the 19th century with artists such as John James Audubon, and today many naturalist field guides are still illustrated with watercolor paintings.
Several factors contributed to the spread of watercolor painting during the 18th century, particularly in England.  Among the elite and aristocratic classes, watercolor painting was one of the incidental adornments of a good education; mapmakers, military officers, and engineers valued it for its usefulness in depicting properties, terrain,  fortifications, field geology, and for illustrating public works or commissioned projects. Watercolor artists were commonly taken on geological or archaeological expeditions, funded by the Society of Dilettanti (founded in 1733), to document discoveries in the Mediterranean, Asia, and the New World. These expeditions stimulated the demand for topographical painters, who churned out memento paintings of famous sites (and sights) along the Grand Tour to Italy that was undertaken by every fashionable young man of the time. 
In the late 18th century, the English cleric William Gilpin wrote a series of hugely popular books describing his picturesque journeys throughout rural England, and illustrated them with self-made sentimentalized monochrome watercolors of river valleys, ancient castles, and abandoned churches.  This example popularized watercolors as a form of personal tourist journal. The confluence of these cultural, engineering, scientific, tourist, and amateur interests culminated in the celebration and promotion of watercolor as a distinctly English "national art". William Blake published several books of hand-tinted engraved poetry, provided illustrations to Dante's Inferno, and he also experimented with large monotype works in watercolor.  Among the many other significant watercolorists of this period were Thomas Gainsborough,  John Robert Cozens, Francis Towne,  Michael Angelo Rooker, William Pars,  Thomas Hearne,  and John Warwick Smith. 
From the late 18th century through the 19th century, the market for printed books and domestic art contributed substantially to the growth of the medium.  Watercolors were used as the basic document from which collectible landscape or tourist engravings were developed, and hand-painted watercolor originals or copies of famous paintings contributed to many upper class art portfolios. Satirical broadsides by Thomas Rowlandson, many published by Rudolph Ackermann, were also extremely popular.
The three English artists credited with establishing watercolor as an independent, mature painting medium are Paul Sandby (1730–1809), often called the "father of the English watercolor"; Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), who pioneered its use for large format, romantic or picturesque landscape painting; and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851),  who brought watercolor painting to the highest pitch of power and refinement,  and created hundreds of superb historical, topographical, architectural, and mythological watercolor paintings. His method of developing the watercolor painting in stages, starting with large, vague color areas established on wet paper, then refining the image through a sequence of washes and glazes,  permitted him to produce large numbers of paintings with "workshop efficiency"  and made him a multimillionaire, partly by sales from his personal art gallery, the first of its kind. Among the important and highly talented contemporaries of Turner and Girtin were John Varley, John Sell Cotman,  Anthony Copley Fielding, Samuel Palmer,  William Havell,  and Samuel Prout. The Swiss painter Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros was also widely known for his large format, romantic paintings in watercolor.
The confluence of amateur activity, publishing markets, middle class art collecting, and 19th-century technique led to the formation of English watercolor painting societies: the Society of Painters in Water Colours (1804, now known as the Royal Watercolour Society) and the New Water Colour Society (1832, now known as the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours). (A Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colour was founded in 1878, now known as the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.)  These societies provided annual exhibitions and buyer referrals for many artists. They also engaged in petty status rivalries and aesthetic debates, particularly between advocates of traditional ("transparent") watercolor and the early adopters of the denser color possible with body color or gouache ("opaque" watercolor). The late Georgian and Victorian periods produced the zenith of the British watercolor, among the most impressive 19th-century works on paper,  due to artists Turner, Varley, Cotman,  David Cox, Peter de Wint  William Henry Hunt, John Frederick Lewis,  Myles Birket Foster,  Frederick Walker,  Thomas Collier, Arthur Melville and many others. In particular, the graceful, lapidary, and atmospheric watercolors ("genre paintings") by Richard Parkes Bonington  created an international fad for watercolor painting, especially in England and France in the 1820s. In the latter half of the 19th century, portrait painter Frederick Havill became a key player in the establishment of watercolour in England. Art critic Huntly Carter described Havill as a "founder of the water colour school." 
The popularity of watercolors stimulated many innovations, including heavier and more sized wove papers, and brushes (called "pencils") manufactured expressly for watercolor. Watercolor tutorials were first published in this period by Varley, Cox, and others, establishing the step-by-step painting instructions that still characterize the genre today; The Elements of Drawing, a watercolor tutorial by English art critic John Ruskin, has been out of print only once since it was first published in 1857. Commercial brands of watercolor were marketed and paints were packaged in metal tubes or as dry cakes that could be "rubbed out" (dissolved) in studio porcelain or used in portable metal paint boxes in the field. Breakthroughs in chemistry made many new pigments available, including synthetic ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, viridian, cobalt violet, cadmium yellow, aureolin (potassium cobaltinitrite), zinc white, and a wide range of carmine and madder lakes. These pigments, in turn, stimulated a greater use of color with all painting media, but in English watercolors, particularly by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Watercolor painting also became popular in the United States during the 19th century; outstanding early practitioners included John James Audubon, as well as early Hudson River School painters such as William H. Bartlett and George Harvey. By mid-century, the influence of John Ruskin led to increasing interest in watercolors, particularly the use of a detailed "Ruskinian" style by such artists as John W. Hill Henry, William Trost Richards, Roderick Newman, and Fidelia Bridges. The American Society of Painters in Watercolor (now the American Watercolor Society) was founded in 1866. Late-19th-century American exponents of the medium included Thomas Moran, Thomas Eakins, John LaFarge, John Singer Sargent,  Childe Hassam, and, preeminently, Winslow Homer.
Watercolor was less popular in Continental Europe. In the 18th century, gouache was an important medium for the Italian artists Marco Ricci and Francesco Zuccarelli, whose landscape paintings were widely collected.  Gouache was used by a number of artists in France as well. In the 19th century, the influence of the English school helped popularize "transparent" watercolor in France, and it became an important medium for Eugène Delacroix, François Marius Granet, Henri-Joseph Harpignies, and the satirist Honoré Daumier. Other European painters who worked frequently in watercolor were Adolph Menzel in Germany and Stanisław Masłowski in Poland.
The adoption of brightly colored, petroleum-derived aniline dyes (and pigments compounded from them), which all fade rapidly on exposure to light, and the efforts to properly conserve the twenty thousand J. M. W. Turner paintings inherited by the British Museum in 1857, led to a negative reevaluation of the permanence of pigments in watercolor.[ citation needed ] This caused a sharp decline in their status and market value. Nevertheless, isolated practitioners continued to prefer and develop the medium into the 20th century. Paul Signac created landscape and maritime watercolors, and Paul Cézanne developed a watercolor painting style consisting entirely of overlapping small glazes of pure color.
Among the many 20th-century artists who produced important works in watercolor were Wassily Kandinsky, Emil Nolde, Paul Klee, Egon Schiele, and Raoul Dufy. In America, the major exponents included Charles Burchfield, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, and John Marin (80% of his total work is watercolor). In this period, American watercolor painting often emulated European Impressionism and Post-Impressionism,  but significant individualism flourished in "regional"  styles of watercolor painting from the 1920s to 1940s. In particular, the "Cleveland School" or "Ohio School" of painters centered around the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the California Scene  painters were often associated with Hollywood animation studios or the Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts). The California painters exploited their state's varied geography, Mediterranean climate, and "automobility" to reinvigorate the outdoor or "plein air" tradition. The most influential among them were Phil Dike, Millard Sheets, Rex Brandt, Dong Kingman, and Milford Zornes. The California Water Color Society, founded in 1921 and later renamed the National Watercolor Society, sponsored important exhibitions of their work. The largest watercolor in the world at the moment (at 9 feet (3 m) tall and 16 ft (5 m) wide) is Building 6 Portrait: Interior.  Produced by American artist Barbara Prey on commission for MASS MoCA,  the work can be seen at MASS MoCA's Robert W. Wilson Building. 
Although the rise of abstract expressionism, and the trivializing influence of amateur painters and advertising- or workshop-influenced painting styles, led to a temporary decline in the popularity of watercolor painting after c. 1950,  watercolors continue to be utilized by artists like Martha Burchfield, Joseph Raffael, Andrew Wyeth, Philip Pearlstein,  Eric Fischl, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, and Francesco Clemente. In Spain, Ceferí Olivé created an innovative style followed by his students, such as Rafael Alonso López-Montero and Francesc Torné Gavaldà. In Mexico, the major exponents are Ignacio Barrios, Edgardo Coghlan, Ángel Mauro, Vicente Mendiola, and Pastor Velázquez. In the Canary Islands, where this pictorial technique has many followers, there are stand-out artists such as Francisco Bonnín Guerín, José Comas Quesada, and Alberto Manrique.
Watercolor paint consists of four principal ingredients:  a pigment; gum arabic   as a binder to hold the pigment in suspension; additives like glycerin, ox gall,  honey, and preservatives to alter the viscosity, hiding, durability or color of the pigment and vehicle mixture; and, evaporating water, as a solvent used to thin or dilute the paint for application.
The more general term watermedia refers to any painting medium that uses water as a solvent and that can be applied with a brush, pen, or sprayer. This includes most inks, watercolors, temperas, caseins, gouaches, and modern acrylic paints.
The term "watercolor" refers to paints that use water-soluble, complex carbohydrates as a binder. Originally (in the 16th to 18th centuries), watercolor binders were sugars and/or hide glues, but since the 19th century, the preferred binder is natural gum arabic, with glycerin and/or honey as additives to improve plasticity and solubility of the binder, and with other chemicals added to improve product shelf life.
The term "bodycolor" refers to paint that is opaque rather than transparent. It usually refers to opaque watercolor, known as gouache.  Modern acrylic paints use an acrylic resin dispersion as a binder.
Watercolor painters before the turn of the 18th century had to make paints themselves using pigments purchased from an apothecary or specialized "colorman", and mixing them with gum arabic or some other binder. The earliest commercial paints were small, resinous blocks that had to be wetted and laboriously "rubbed out" in water to obtain a usable color intensity. William Reeves started his business as a colorman around 1766. In 1781, he and his brother, Thomas Reeves, were awarded the Silver Palette of the Society of Arts, for the invention of the moist watercolor paint-cake, a time-saving convenience, introduced in the "golden age" of English watercolor painting. The "cake" was immediately soluble when touched by a wet brush. 
Modern commercial watercolor paints are available in tubes, pans and liquids.  The majority of paints sold today are in collapsible small metal tubes in standard sizes and formulated to a consistency similar to toothpaste by being already mixed with a certain water component. For use, this paste has to be further diluted with water. Pan paints (actually small dried cakes or bars of paint in an open plastic container) are usually sold in two sizes, full pans and half pans.
Owing to modern industrial organic chemistry, the variety, saturation, and permanence of artists' colors available today has been vastly improved. Correct and non-toxic primary colors are now present through the introduction of hansa yellow, phthalo blue and quinacridone (PV 122). From such a set of three colors, in principle all others can be mixed, as in a classical technique no white is used. The modern development of pigments was not driven by artistic demand. The art materials industry is too small to exert any market leverage on global dye or pigment manufacture. With rare exceptions such as aureolin, all modern watercolor paints utilize pigments that have a wider industrial use. Paint manufacturers buy, by industrial standards very small, supplies of these pigments, mill them with the vehicle, solvent, and additives, and package them. The milling process with inorganic pigments, in more expensive brands, reduces the particle size to improve the color flow when the paint is applied with water.
In the partisan debates of the 19th-century English art world, gouache was emphatically contrasted to traditional watercolors and denigrated for its high hiding power or lack of "transparency"; "transparent" watercolors were exalted. The aversion to opaque paint had its origin in the fact that well into the 19th century lead white was used to increase the covering quality. That pigment tended to soon discolor into black under the influence of sulphurous air pollution, totally ruining the artwork.  The traditional claim that "transparent" watercolors gain "luminosity" because they function like a pane of stained glass laid on paper—the color intensified because the light passes through the pigment, reflects from the paper, and passes a second time through the pigment on its way to the viewer—is false. Watercolor paints typically do not form a cohesive paint layer, as do acrylic or oil paints, but simply scatter pigment particles randomly across the paper surface; the transparency is caused by the paper being visible between the particles.  Watercolors may appear more vivid than acrylics or oils because the pigments are laid down in a purer form, with few or no fillers (such as kaolin) obscuring the pigment colors. Typically, most or all of the gum binder will be absorbed by the paper, preventing the binder from changing the visibility of the pigment.  The gum being absorbed does not decrease but increase the adhesion of the pigment to the paper, as its particles will then penetrate the fibres more easily. In fact, an important function of the gum is to facilitate the "lifting" (removal) of color, should the artist want to create a lighter spot in a painted area.  Furthermore, the gum prevents flocculation of the pigment particles. 
Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint made of pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion and plasticizers, silicone oils, defoamers, stabilizers, or metal soaps. Most acrylic paints are water-based, but become water-resistant when dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted with water, or modified with acrylic gels, mediums, or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor, a gouache, or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with other media.
Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments with a medium of drying oil as the binder. It has been the most common technique for artistic painting on wood panel or canvas for several centuries, spreading from Europe to the rest of the world. The advantages of oil for painting images include "greater flexibility, richer and denser colour, the use of layers, and a wider range from light to dark". But the process is slower, especially when one layer of paint needs to be allowed to dry before another is applied.
Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, converts to a solid film. It is most commonly used to protect, color, or provide texture. Paint can be made in many colors—and in many different types. Paint is typically stored, sold, and applied as a liquid, but most types dry into a solid. Most paints are either oil-based or water-based and each has distinct characteristics. For one, it is illegal in most municipalities to discard oil-based paint down household drains or sewers. Clean-up solvents are also different for water-based paint than they are for oil-based paint. Water-based paints and oil-based paints will cure differently based on the outside ambient temperature of the object being painted Usually, the object being painted must be over 10 °C (50 °F), although some manufacturers of external paints/primers claim they can be applied when temperatures are as low as 2 °C (35 °F).
A pastel is an art medium in a variety of forms including a stick, a square a pebble or a pan of color; though other forms are possible; they consist of powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are similar to those used to produce some other colored visual arts media, such as oil paints; the binder is of a neutral hue and low saturation. The color effect of pastels is closer to the natural dry pigments than that of any other process. Pastels have been used by artists since the Renaissance, and gained considerable popularity in the 18th century, when a number of notable artists made pastel their primary medium.
Tempera, also known as egg tempera, is a permanent, fast-drying painting medium consisting of colored pigments mixed with a water-soluble binder medium, usually glutinous material such as egg yolk. Tempera also refers to the paintings done in this medium. Tempera paintings are very long-lasting, and examples from the first century AD still exist. Egg tempera was a primary method of painting until after 1500 when it was superseded by oil painting. A paint consisting of pigment and binder commonly used in the United States as poster paint is also often referred to as "tempera paint", although the binders in this paint are different from traditional tempera paint.
Gouache, body color, or opaque watercolor is a water-medium paint consisting of natural pigment, water, a binding agent, and sometimes additional inert material. Gouache is designed to be opaque. Gouache has a considerable history, having been used for at least twelve centuries. It is used most consistently by commercial artists for posters, illustrations, comics, and other design work.
Gum arabic, also known as gum sudani, acacia gum, Arabic gum, gum acacia, acacia, Senegal gum, Indian gum, and by other names, is a natural gum originally consisting of the hardened sap of two species of the Acacia tree, Senegalia senegal and Vachellia seyal. The term "gum arabic" does not legally indicate a particular botanical source, however. The gum is harvested commercially from wild trees, mostly in Sudan (80%) and throughout the Sahel, from Senegal to Somalia. The name "gum Arabic" was used in the Middle East at least as early as the 9th century. Gum arabic first found its way to Europe via Arabic ports, so retained its name.
William Henry Hunt, was an English watercolourist. Hunt was "one of the key figures in nineteenth-century English watercolour painting. His work was extensively collected in his lifetime, particularly his genre pictures of children, often in humorous situations, and his detailed, naturalistic still lifes of fruit, flowers, and birds' nests that earned him the nickname ‘Bird’s Nest’ Hunt."
Oil paint is a type of slow-drying paint that consists of particles of pigment suspended in a drying oil, commonly linseed oil. The viscosity of the paint may be modified by the addition of a solvent such as turpentine or white spirit, and varnish may be added to increase the glossiness of the dried oil paint film. The addition of oil or alkyd medium can also be used to modify the viscosity and drying time of oil paint. Oil paints were first used in Asia as early as the 7th century AD and can be seen in examples of Buddhist paintings in Afghanistan. Oil-based paints made their way to Europe by the 12th century and were used for simple decoration, but oil painting did not begin to be adopted as an artistic medium there until the early 15th century. Common modern applications of oil paint are in finishing and protection of wood in buildings and exposed metal structures such as ships and bridges. Its hard-wearing properties and luminous colors make it desirable for both interior and exterior use on wood and metal. Due to its slow-drying properties, it has recently been used in paint-on-glass animation. The thickness of the coat has considerable bearing on the time required for drying: thin coats of oil paint dry relatively quickly.
An oil pastel is a painting and drawing medium formed into a stick which consists of pigment mixed with a binder mixture of non-drying oil and wax. They differ from other pastel sticks which are made with a gum or methyl cellulose binder, and from wax crayons which are made without oil. The surface of an oil pastel painting is less powdery than one made from gum pastels, but more difficult to protect with a fixative. Oil pastels are bold and bright. They can be blended easily but they can break easily too.
Hand-colouring refers to any method of manually adding colour to a monochrome photograph, generally either to heighten the realism of the image or for artistic purposes. Hand-colouring is also known as hand painting or overpainting.
Sennelier is a French manufacturing company of art materials, mostly famous for its hand selected pigments. The company produces a wide range of paint products, including acrylic, oil, watercolor, gouache, oil and soft pastel, india ink, tempera, and other media.
A wash is a term for a visual arts technique resulting in a semi-transparent layer of colour. A wash of diluted ink or watercolor paint applied in combination with drawing is called pen and wash, wash drawing, or ink and wash. Normally only one or two colours of wash are used; if more colours are used the result is likely to be classified as a full watercolor painting.
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface. The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and airbrushes, can be used.
Simon Fletcher is an English artist.
Alfredo Guati Rojo Cárdenas was a 20th-century Mexican artist who worked to restore the reputation of watercolor painting as a true art form. His preference for the technique came from seeing Diego Rivera’s work and helping with a fresco mural in his hometown of Cuernavaca as a child. When he was 16, he went to Mexico City to study law, but switched to art. He learned the various classic art techniques but kept his preference for watercolor. His career began by teaching art, founding an art institute in the Colonia Roma section of Mexico City. In the 1950s, he tried to get the area's art galleries to show watercolors but they refused, considering it to be a minor art form. He began to host exhibitions of watercolor works at his art institute with success which led to the formation of the Museo Nacional de la Acuarela or National Watercolor Museum in the 1960s. The museum remained in Colonia Roma until the 1985 Mexico City earthquake destroyed the building and led to its relocation to the Coyoacán borough, where it remains. During this time, Guati Rojo also had a career showing and selling his own artwork, almost exclusively watercolors, in various parts of the world. Most of his income from this painting went to support the museum.
A colored pencil, coloured pencil, pencil crayon, or coloured/colouring lead is an art medium constructed of a narrow, pigmented core encased in a wooden cylindrical case. Unlike graphite and charcoal pencils, colored pencils' cores are wax- or oil-based and contain varying proportions of pigments, additives, and binding agents. Water-soluble (watercolor) pencils and pastel pencils are also manufactured as well as colored cores for mechanical pencils.
Watercolor paper or watercolour paper is paper or substrate onto which an artist applies watercolor paints, pigments or dyes. We generally no longer use stone or tomb walls as a substrate. There are currently many types of watercolour papers available that are manufactured for the use of watercolors. Watercolor paper can be made of wood pulp exclusively, or mixed with cotton fibers. Pure cotton watercolor paper is also used by artists, though it typically costs more than pulp based paper. It is also available as an acid-free medium to help its preservation.
The conservation and restoration of paintings is carried out by professional painting conservators. Paintings cover a wide range of various mediums, materials, and their supports. Painting types include fine art to decorative and functional objects spanning from acrylics, frescoes, and oil paint on various surfaces, egg tempera on panels and canvas, lacquer painting, water color and more. Knowing the materials of any given painting and its support allows for the proper restoration and conservation practices. All components of a painting will react to its environment differently, and impact the artwork as a whole. These material components along with collections care will determine the longevity of a painting. The first steps to conservation and restoration is preventive conservation followed by active restoration with the artist's intent in mind.
Paint mixing is the practice of mixing components or colors of paint to combine them into a working material and achieve a desired hue. The components that go into paint mixing depend on the function of the product sought to be produced. For example, a painter of portraits or scenery on a canvas may be seeking delicate hues and subtle gradiations, while the painter of a house may be more concerned with durability and consistency of colors in paints presented to customers, and the painter of a bridge or a ship may have the weatherability of the paint as their primary concern.