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Watercolorist's Dream Gift guide | Euorpean & UK Edition

Frugal | Gifts Under €25

1. Faber-Castell 12 Polygrade Pencils (€20/ £18)

What: A set of 12 pencils in the style of the original polygrade pencils. The range is from 5B–5H.

Why: All watercolor artists need a good pencil, whether for sketching or for transferring drawings. These pencils are a fun option and very unique. What makes these special is that they are a limited edition group of pencils from a reputable manufacturer that make you feel like you are using a pencil from 1837.



2. Finetec/ Coliro Pearlcolors Gold & Silver (€25,95)

What: A set of six gold and silver watercolor paints.

Why: These paint are lightfast, handmade in Germany by a family-owned company, and vegan friendly. If you are looking for an awesome gold paint, you can stop searching. These are the best! I have never seen another gold paint that replicates real gold so well.



3. Viarco ArtGraf Watersoluble Graphite (£14.70)

What: A tin of water-soluble graphite.

Why: this water-soluble graphite is made by a family-owned company in Portugal. They are one of the oldest pencil manufacturers in Europe, so they know their graphite. I love this water-soluble graphite, and it is really useful for sketching or learning to paint with values. If you only have one pain in your travel kit, this would be it.



Mid-Range | Gifts $26–75

1. Daler Rowney Artsphere Easel (€50/ £30)

What: A super adjustable easel.

Why: You need to take care of your neck and your back! It’s very easy to hurt your back bending over a table painting watercolors. This easel is the solution. It can adjust in many different ways and hold both papers and canvas.



2. Eventually Everything Mixes Watercolor Sets ($28–30)

What: Sets of vegan Handmade watercolors in half pans.

Why: These paints are super high quality, very pigmented, and a great deal. They are handmade by an artist in Berlin, they are vegan, and some of the funds go to workshops that teach art to a wider audience. So not only are you getting unique paint, but you are supporting a good cause!



3. Kolinsky Sable Brushes (€27-€68)

What: Kolinsky Sable brushes made by three different manufacturers at three different price points.


Da Vinci - there isn’t much to say about this brand, only because everybody knows that they are synonymous with quality. These are some of the best of the best. Every single brush that I have bought from da Vinci has been beautiful and amazing. They are robust and the points remain over time.



Kolibri - This is probably not a very well-known brand, especially not outside of Germany. However this small family company has been making brushes for a long time. They have a small line of Kolinsky Sable brushes, called their gold line, which is an amazing value for the money. Some even say they are better than the Winsor and Newton Series 7s! Most cheap Kolinsky Sable brushes are not worth your time or mine, but these are excellent and I use them daily.



Rosemary & Co. - I don’t personally have experience with this brand, but this small, woman-owned company is the favorite of many watercolorists.



All Out | Gifts Over $75

1. TALENS Rembrandt Watercolor Set in Wooden Box ($124)

What: A set of 22 Rembrandt artist grade watercolor half pans in a wooden box with a porcelain palette.

Why: This Dutch brand is high quality, and the watercolor paints have a full range of colors. Not only that, but every watercolorist would be happy to have a ceramic palette to paint on.



2. SENNELIER Haute Couture Watercolor Set (€79,35 )

What: This is a set of 10 tubes of water colors, one porcelain palette, to brushes, and one towel.

Why: Of course Sennelier is a brand that is renowned for making watercolors that are vibrant with a special ability to glaze effortlessly. But this set is also just extremely convenient. It has everything that you need to paint except for water. I’m actually surprised that they included towel, because this is an aspect that most watercolor kits miss.



3. SCHMINCKE HORADAM® Watercolor Set in Wooden Box(142,89 €)

What: 24 tcubes of Schmincke watercolors in a wooden box with a porcelain palette.

Why: There isn’t a single watercolorist who would be upset if you gifted them this set of watercolors. You get a full range of Schmincke’s colors plus a huge palette to paint with. What more could you want?



Over the Top! – Over $250

Caran d’Ache 80 MUSEUM Aquarelle Watercolor Pencil assortment (360,00€)

What: A set of 80 extremely highly pigmented watercolor pencils

Why: some of the colors in this set are only available through this gift box. You cannot get them in any other set. Since these are definitely the best watercolor pencils around, it is a great gift to get not just the basic set, but the full range of colors!



The Sketchers Box ($275)

What: A handmade watercolor box with your name on it.

Why: ! Even though there is a long waiting time, it is definitely a special gift to have a watercolor palette made specifically for you. You can get your name on the pallet, and it comes with a free leather pouch, and space for 18 hole pans. It doesn’t get much more luxurious than this!



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Art Supply Review: Eventually Everything Mixes

I wanted to share with you this amazing handcrafted watercolor brand called Eventually Everything Mixes!

Recently I got to meet Amé on a trip to Berlin. She is a wonderfully sweet and kind person, and she obviously put a lot of thought into the processes she uses to make her watercolor paints.

Her paints are all vegan and cruelty free. That might sound my distance distinction, but the majority of watercolor paints have either honey or ox gall (which comes from the gallbladder of cows) in them, which makes them not vegan. Instead, Amé uses sugar syrup and synthetic ox gall as the humectant and wetting agent in her paints.

Personally, I am not vegan, but I do believe in trying to make the products that we use as free from cruelty and as gentle on the environment as possible. This is obviously something that Amé cares about. Not only are her products free of animal byproducts, but she also even notes when the pigment might be dangerous to the water supply and aquatic life. This is something that’s almost never noted and is really important since watercolors are often flushed down the drain.

In addition to all of this, her paints are beautiful, moody, and inspire me to be more creative.


Quality Where Does it Stand?
Lightfastness depends on the pigment, but the colors are sourced from Kremer Pigments
Where Is It Made? Berlin, Germany
Identification (Color Labeling and Accuracy) Name and pigment number on the pans, but other information only available on the website
Tube size Available in half pans, full pans, and bottle tops
Price around $5 per half pan

Colors Reviewed

  • WATER BY THE PIER - PB 71, PR 101

Amé gave me a full pan of Pyrelene maroon, a bottle top of Lausitzer Ochre, and a dot sheet with Water By The Pier and Free He Wanted To Be. The dot sheets were very generous, and I’ve done several paintings and all of my swatches with these alone!


p>You can see in the slots is that all of these colors are pretty granulating. Even though purely maroon, which is not actually a granulating color, has a more textural quality than in other brands.

The colors are all extremely highly pigmented, and they have a medium level of dispersion.

Even though I am a stickler for single pigment colors, I am absolutely in love with “Water by the Pier” and “Free – He Wanted to Be.” Normally I don’t see any reason to have a great color on my palette, but that granulation and the different colors in ”Free – He Wanted to Be" entrance me every time I use it.


This is the part that I was worried about. I have never used handmade watercolors before, but I know that watercolors which are not correctly formulated or not correctly mulled can be very difficult to mix and glaze. But this is not the case with these pains.

They paint and makes just like I would expect them to and it’s easy to get a wide range of colors from just the four paints that I have.

Obviously, this is not a high intensity palette, but I was still able to get some version of basically each color.


These colors rewet pretty easily, although there is a bit more difficult re-wetting the Lausitzer Ochre. It’s pretty common for first colors across brands to be more difficult to rewet.

“Free – He Wanted to be" was also a bit more difficult to rewet, and clearly had a bit more binders and the other paints. It had a sort of a gummy texture. It’s also more muted in intensity.

The easiest color to work with was the Pyrelene maroon, which is crazily intense as soon as you put a brush into it.

Glazing and Layering

No problems here either. I painted a portrait, which normally includes a lot of layering and glazing. The collars had no trouble staying on the paper and did not lift off inadvertently.

One thing that I did notice is that the colors seem to stay wet on the page longer than with my conventionally made paints.


These pains are very vibrant and have very deep color. However did notice that, depending on the paper you use, they may be a fairly large color shift. The colors are much darker when they are wet than when they are dry. However the saturation level seems to stay about the same, and the colors do not become pale and washed out after drying.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Cruelty free, vegan, and environmentally friendly paint Large color shift
Unique colors The rewet ability of the paint might vary by pigment
Supports an independent artist
Smells of Cloves
Pigment is sourced from a reputable supplier, and no fillers are added

Who is it for?

If you want to dip your toe into the world of handmade watercolors, I would definitely start with this brand.
I don’t often add new colors to my palette now that I’ve decided on a set of colors, but I find myself often wanting to play with these paints. I’m not sure if it’s the moody colors, the scent of cloves, or the memory of meeting Amé, but using these payments is very freeing. If you like deep, dark, moody paints with a lot of texture and the smell of clothes, then these are the perfect paint for you. If you are looking for a high-quality, vegan watercolor brand, this is absolutely perfect.

Of course we can’t forget that every purchase helps the support an independent artist who also organizes workshops to help get people acquainted with making art!

The Last Word

This is a great first experience with handmade watercolors, I really want to try out some more colors in her line, and see how they compare with other handmade watercolors!

  • Price: ★★★★
  • Quality: ★★★★★
  • Overall: ★★★★★

Official Website


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Art Supply Review: Old Holland Watercolors
Scanbot Sep 18, 2017 9.17 PM44.jpg

Old Holland is kind of a strange brand. There are not a lot of reviews of it because of its expensive price in many parts of the world. I’m lucky enough that my local art store has a full collection of this brand at fairly reasonable prices. doesn’t think very much of this brand because of its lightfastness issues and its odd labeling practices. That’s totally understandable. I don’t think I would ever recommend this brand to a beginner.

The pigments are definitely pure. They claimed that they include twice as much pigment as other brands, and that might be true. However, the binder for these paints is what makes it different from all other paints, and calm cause problems for a new or experienced watercolor artist. The binder has been described as gummy and sticky. And the paints lift extremely easily.

Not normally something that you’d associate with a high-grade artist quality watercolor brand.

Despite all of that, I love these paints!


Many artists don’t like Old Holland watercolors. They say that they are too gummy , too thick, and too difficult to rewet. And all of these things are true to a certain extent. The colors do not stay still on the page, and lift extremely easily. All of these things can easily be considered negative points.

But there is one thing that I think is important to realize about these watercolors. They are really gansai.


Okay, or at least they are basically gansai or very similar to gansai.

At my local art store, I picked up this pamphlet talking about Old Holland watercolors that comes directly from the company. Here is what it says.

Old Holland Classic watercolour
These watercolours combine the best qualities of the original colours as used by the Chinese masters. All 168 colours are lightfast. The old fashioned Chinese binder accepts more pigment. This binder is based on distilled water, bleeched cristal arable gums, pure glycerine 99.9% with various mixtures of different natural sugar syrups,special selected honey, rabbit skin glue, rosin varnish (made from roots), seaweed extract, mhyr, etc. The colours tend to be considerably stronger than normal artist’s watercolours, while retaining the transparency required to produce the most delicate hues. Due to the higher level of pigmentation the intensity and brilliance is superior, while less quantity of paint is required to make the artwork.


Okay, so what does that sound like? If you have read my blog post about Gansai, this will all sound very familiar.

And it makes sense. The Dutch were one of the few countries that were able to trade with the Chinese and the Japanese in the 17th century. You have probably heard of the Dutch East India Company, haven’t you?

Gansai is a Japanese art medium, but many of Japanese traditional arts have their roots Chinese culture. I don’t know what the Chinese word for gansai is, but I’m pretty sure that is what is going on here with these Old Holland watercolors.

So the characteristics fit. They lift easily, they are extremely vibrant, and extremely pigmented. The only thing that seems to be different is that the colors also mix with absolutely no problems.

Also, it is important to note that this binder is the main reason why old Holland colors have a bit of a lightfastness problem in some formulations. Some of the binder combinations that Old Holland uses yellow over time.


Quality Where Does it Stand?
Lightfastness varying lightfastness, I would not trust the lightfastness rating given by Old Holland
Where Is It Made? Holland
Identification (Color Labeling and Accuracy) No pigment number or other information on the tube, also the label does not match the color inside at all
Tube size 6 mL
Price US$6 - US$22

Colors Reviewed



These colors are all extremely vibrant. They are surprisingly transparent, and every single one of them is extremely lifting. I have never seen colors that lifted as easily as this. You could put a drop of water on the paint and it would completely come off the page.

This can actually be really frustrating when you’re painting because you can basically erase the entire thing depending on what paper you are using.

This Ultramarine Blue Deep is my favorite ultramarine. The granulation is absolutely gorgeous and unlike the granulation I have seen in any other brand. I will definitely be buying more of this.

Scheveningen Yellow Light is now my favorite warm yellow. It’s transparent, and just glows.


The colors mixed together extremely well. They harmonize and have a lot of movement when used wet in wet. The painting that I did using these colors has a sort of gentle harmony to it.


This is where these colors fall down. Because of the binder, it’s extremely difficult to rewet these pains in comparison to other artistry paints. You have to add water to them before the pigment will come off of the pan.

Glazing and Layering

I don’t use these paints when I am planning to do a lot of layers. Or at least I don’t use them on the bottom layers, particularly because of that issue with listing. These colors don’t stay down very well. They always want to come off the page if there is any sort of agitation on top.

So I normally only use these paints if I am going to be doing a painting that doesn’t require a lot of layers, or if I want to use them on top of already painted layers.

They glaze well, and are very vibrant.


Extremely vibrant, obviously full of pigment. Beautiful. There are variations of tone within each color.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Extremely High Pigment Load No pigment information on the tube
The Most Beautiful Granulation Difficult to Rewet
Very Vibrant Lifts easily
Unique Pigments Extremely Expensive
Questionable Lightfastness
Strange Names
The line is full of overly complicated convenience mixes

Who is it for?

Obviously not a reasonable person.

Not for anyone who is a stickler about single pigment paints or lightfastness.

I will probably continue buying these pains, but I will attempt to be aware of the limitations of the paint and careful about the lightfastness.

This brand is definitely a “luxury” brand if you think about the price and the lack of functionality. This isn’t really a brand that you go to for consistency or predictable quality. This is a brand that you go to because there’s just something about it that you love, despite all of the negative aspects.

So this is for somebody who has already tried artist grade watercolors, and is already very comfortable with them, and wants to be a little silly with their paints.

The Last Word

  • Price: ★
  • Quality: ★★★
  • Overall: ★★

Official Website


In Europe

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How to Test Watercolor Paper

I have had a stack of watercolor paper building up for a few months now. It seemed too intimidating to do the testing that I wanted to do because I wasn't sure how to go about doing it. There are not a lot of examples of watercolor paper tests, so I was kind of in the dark.

Finally, I created this template, and I'm going to slowly start going through each of the papers.

I thought it might be helpful to someone else trying to figure out how to test what a color paper, so I’m going to share with you how I do it.

Watercolor Paper Test Template

Filled Out Watercolor Paper Test

How to Test Watercolor Paper

I have had a stack of watercolor paper building up for a few months now. It seemed too intimidating to do the testing that I wanted to do because I wasn't sure how to go about doing it. There are not a lot of examples of watercolor paper tests, so I was kind of in the dark.

Finally, I created this template, and I'm going to slowly start going through each of the papers.

I thought it might be helpful to someone else trying to figure out how to test what a color paper, so I’m going to share with you how I do it.

Watercolor Paper Test Template

Filled Out Watercolor Paper Test


  1. Pencil and Erasing
    • Write at least four lines with whatever grade of graphite that you usually use on watercolor paper.
    • Erase part of the lines until you can no longer see them.
  2. Masking Fluid
    • Use masking fluid to create two parallel lines.
  3. Masking Tape
    • Apply masking tape to the paper and smooth it down so that the paint will not seep under.
  4. Backruns
    • Use a very juicy wash of a pigment that is prone to back runs and make a 3 strokes of this across the paper. I use PR122 (Quinacridone magenta), but you could also use Prussian blue (PB 27) or dioxane violet (PV 23).
  5. Lifting Test
    • Paint one horizontal stroke of a strongly staining pigment. I use a pthalo green, PG 7.
    • Below that paint one horizontal stroke of a non-staining pigment. I used green earth, PG 28.
  6. Granulation
    • Using a heavily granulating pigment, fill in a square. The wash should be fairly watery so that the pigment can granulate properly. I used Lunar Black (PBK 11).
  7. Mixing Color
    • Put down a circle of blue pigment. Here I used the same pigment that I will use later to create a wash. This is a watery mixture of Ultramarine Blue (PB 29) and Zirconium Cerulean (PB 71).
    • Next to it, put down a yellow color in the circle. I used PY 151, Azo Yellow.
    • Finally use your brush to allow the colors to merge together. Do not fuss with the colors too much. Allow them to blend naturally.
  8. Detail Strokes
    • Do several small thin detailed strokes. Try varying thickness and the direction as well as quickness of your strokes. I used the same pigment that I used for backruns, PR 122.
  9. Softening
    • Put down some shapes of color (leaf shape, circle, square), and then using a damp, but not wet grass, soften the edge of the shape.
  10. Wait Until The Masking Fluid Is Dry
  11. Wash
    • Mix a very watery mixture of ultramarine blue (PB 29) and Zirconium Cerulean (PP 71), cerulean blue (PB 35), or cobalt Violet (PV 14). Mixing these granulating paints together will allow you to easily see the defects in the paper when creating a wash.
    • Attempt to create as even of a flat wash as possible on the entirety of the right hand side, covering the pencil, masking fluid, and masking tape tests.
  12. Wait for the Wash to Dry
  13. Remove Masking Fluid and Masking Tape
    • When both of these are removed, painted a vertical stripe of PR 122 over both areas.
  14. Erasing on top of watercolor
    • Erase another part of the pencil lines that you drew.
  15. Glazing
    • Paint the same yellow as used in the color mixing in a light glaze over the bottom of the wash. I used PY 151.
  16. Lifting
    • Using a stiff brush, attempt to lift both the staining and non-staining pigment that was painted in the lifting section. Blot with paper to remove the pigment.

All done!

How to Interpret the Results

Pencil & Erasing

This part tests how well the paper takes pencil. It also test how much damage the paper takes with regular erasing both before and after a wash.

If the area where you erased is darker and mottled after the washer strike, that means that you racing damages the paper. Is it up to you to determine how much damage is acceptable.

Also, the paper might be further damaged by the racing after a wash is applied, and pigment might come up. So know whether you see more damage and if the blue of the wash has been lightened by the eraser.

This test is especially important for people who like to view the outline of their drawing in pencil and perhaps erase afterwards.

Masking Fluid and Masking Tape

This section tests how well the paper takes both masking fluid and masking tape. some papers can be damaged by using either of these masking method, so it's better to know ahead of time.

If the paper is damaged by either one of these, you will see that the paper has become rough. Also there will be a change in the stripe of pink pigment that you have placed over them. Ideally, the paper that has been under the masking fluid or tape should be the same as the paper that was not masked.


Making a large wash allows you to test both how easy it is to make a flat wash on the paper as well as to see whether the sizing on the paper has been applied correctly. On some papers, the sizing is not even and that can create blotches that you can't see until you have painted on them. This way, you can know ahead of time if the paper has even sizing.

What you're looking for is to see if the wash is fairly even and there are no strange mottled spots or speckles. There should be no specific area where a ton of pigment is gathering.


The glazing section will show you how well the paper allows you to make glazes.

You can do this section over and over again if you want to see how well it takes subsequent glazes. But even with a single glaze, you can see whether this paper is prone to lifting up the first layers when a second layer is applied.

Ideally, the first layer of the wash should stay put, and a transparent glaze should be able to go on top without getting muddy.


Backgrounds are when the water applied to the surface of the paper is not being absorbed quickly enough and so a blooming or cauliflower pattern can be seen in the paint. This is pleasant when it's done intentionally, but using the wrong paper can cause this to happen more often when you don't want it to.

The backrun test is really a test of absorbency.

Papers that are not very absorbing and to create more background, and papers that are very absorbent should have little to no backruns. It's most likely that a hot press paper, because of the slick surface, will have more backruns than a cold pressed paper.

Ideally the stroke here should appear very even, without cauliflowers or backruns.

Lifting Tests

In this part of the test I use a staining and a non-staining pigment. Normally a staining pigment is very difficult to get out of the paper, while it is very easy to get a non-staining pigment back to white on a paper. Testing both of these allows you to see very easily whether it is difficult or easy to lift pigment from the paper.

If the staining section only lifts a little, and the non-staining section basically becomes white, then the paper has normal lifting ability.

If the staining section lifts a lot, and the non-staining section becomes white, then the paper has higher than normal lifting ability.

If the staining section does not list, and even the non-staining section has difficulty lifting, then the paper has very low lifting ability.


Depending on how you paint, you might want more or less granulation. This test allows you to see what a very granulating pigment looks like on this paper.

If the pigment granulates a lot, then the paper encourages granulation.

If the pigment is not granulate, then the paper discourages it.

Mixing Color

By allowing these pigments to the mix on the paper, we can see how the paper encourages paint to mix.

As with anything, it depends on your painting style, but generally you want to see a pleasing texture where the blue and yellow needs. The pigment should turn into green, and the two colors should flow into one another.

If the colors do not mix together well, make an unpleasant texture, or remain separate, there may be some problem with the paper.

Detail Strokes

These thin strokes are meant to show you how well the paper takes detail.

Look at the strokes very carefully.

Are the lines solid or broken? Is the color even, or is there a darker outline on the outside? Are you able to make very thin lines as well as very thick lines?

Generally, you’ll be able to get more detail on a hot press paper than a cold press paper.


The final section tell you how easily you can soft and the edges of the stroke that you have already put down. This is a technique that's often used by botanical illustrators, and one of my favorite techniques, so it's very important to me for a paper to be able to take softening very well.

Does the paper make a hard edge, or a soft gradient?

Ideally, the edge should be very soft and bleed into the lightness of the paper.

What Do You Want Out Of a Watercolor Paper?

In looking at all of these results, it's really important to remember that there is no "perfect paper.” Everything really depends on your painting style.

Some people want more detail, some people don't want any. Some people don't care whether a paper glazes well or not. Some people want paper that allows for easy lifting so that they can correct mistakes. Other people want paper with no lifting abilities so that their pigment stays where they put it.

So think about what you want!

Personally, I want both my cold and hot press paper to be able to take a good flat wash. I there could be little to no backgrounds, and normal lifting ability. I want my coldpressed paper to granulate and house off the mixing abilities. It's really important for me that my hot press paper takes very sharp detail and can be used to make very gentle softening gradations.

It's a good idea to keep track of all of the watercolor papers that you have tested so that you can refer back to them later.

So now, I have a question for you. What’s your favorite watercolor paper?

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"Monument" Artwork in Dresden

This spring there was an installation by the Syrian German artist Manaf Halbouni constructed in front of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. The artwork was a reach the end of something that actually happened in Syria during the Civil War. Three buses were raised vertically on their ends to protect civilians against sniper fire in Aleppo.

The reason why the location of this artwork is important is because Dresden was also a city that was torn apart by war. The artwork was installed just a week before the 72nd anniversary of the Allied air raid on Dresden in 1945 which basically destroyed the entire center of the city.

The Dresden bombing is a really big part of the history here, and many people try to remember the lives that were lost. Numbers vary, but some estimates say that 25,000 people were killed on that one day.

It is also, unfortunately, a day that neo-Nazis parade down the streets of the city.

So, of course, this artwork ended up being a source of great controversy. Many Pegida supporters were against the artwork, called it scrap metal, and threatened government officials because of it.

Personally, I think that it was a good way to show the similarities between the two cities and to try to create a connection between them.

What do you think?


′Monument′ to Aleppo opens to protests in Dresden | Arts | DW.COM | 07.02.2017

Right-wing protesters disrupt unveiling of Syrian artist’s installation in Dresden

Dresden's bitter divide over Aleppo-inspired bus barricade sculpture | World news | The Guardian

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Watercolor Exchange / Art Supply Haul with Luna Howell

My friend Luna Howell sent me the most adorable package as part of a watercolor exchange that we did together. She is just a super generous and nice person and I was so excited when I got the package in my mailbox.

She sent me some green tea candy from Japan and the cutest Totoro themed note in addition to all the watercolors she sent along!

So here are the colors that she sent:

Name Pigment Brand
Jaune Brilliant #2 PR 108, PO 20, PW6 Holbein
Shell Pink PO 73, PW6 Holbein
Vermilion Hue PO 73, PR 254, PY 110 Holbein
Quinacridone Opera BV 10, PR 122 Holbein
Monte Amiata Sienna PBR 7 Daniel Smith
Potter’s Pink PR 233 Daniel Smith
Kyanite Genuine Daniel Smith Primatek
Serpentine Genuine Daniel Smith Primatek
Fuchsite Genuine Daniel Smith Primatek
Imperial Purple PB 29, PV 19 Daniel Smith watercolor stick
Sap Green PO 48, PY 150, PG 7 Daniel Smith watercolor stick
Quinacridone Burnt Orange PO 48 Daniel Smith watercolor stick
Burnt Sienna PBR 7 Daniel Smith watercolor stick

Holbein Watercolors

These are the colors I was really most interested in checking out. I have never worked with Holbein watercolors before and they are not exactly easy for me to access. There are also not a lot of very detailed reviews of these paints.

The first thing I noticed is that these paints arrived melted. Luna packed the watercolor half pans into a small plastic baggie, and these had melted and gotten all over the other watercolors.

I thought this was kind of weird especially considering that it is only early spring and still very cool where I live.

That made me wonder if there is honey inside. There is no honey in these pains, but they use, gum arabic as the binder, and glycerin as a moisturizer. I can only assume that they use a lot of glycerin!

The pans rewet very easily (probably because of all of that glycerin) and they have this extremely smooth and creamy feel.

I had expected the colors that contain white to be very chalky and all, but they are actually surprisingly vibrant. Of course, they are still opaque that is something that can't be avoided.

Something that shocked me about Holbein paints is that they seemed to dry even more vibrant than how they appeared when wet. That's the opposite of how watercolors normally work!

Not only that, but the whole buying the Quinacridone Opera is much more vibrant than Winsor and Newton's Opera, which is saying something since that is already such a saturated color. Also, the color seems to be holding up a lot better than the Winsor and Newton version.

You can, however tell that they definitely don't use very much dispersants like ox gall, because the colors do not move very much in water.

Because of all of these things, I’m really really interested in trying out more colors from buying. The colors seem to be very smooth, very finely ground, and extremely vibrant and pigmented.

Daniel Smith

All the other colors that Luna sent me were Daniel Smith colors.

Potter’s Pink

Potters pink is a dusky, granulating, desaturated pinkish color.

It's one of those colors that is really overlooked by the majority of watercolorists. That's probably because it's not really the most useful color on its own. But in mixtures is really where it shines.

I played around with this color for a bit and found that it makes an interesting beachy than color when mixed with raw sienna. When mixed with quinacridone magenta, you get a sort of rose madder hue, and when added to greens, it causes them to granulate with darker, desaturated flecks. It also mixes well with cerulean blue to form grays and dull lavender colors.

Monte Amiata Sienna

You should know that I have an obsession with yellows by now. I am also particularly picky about my earth yellows.

Monte Amiata Sienna could probably be considered a type of raw sienna or yellow ocher, but it is much clearer and more transparent than either of these colors. If you wanted a raw sienna with little granulatioand much more saturation, this would be it.


I've never tried the Primatek series before. Most of what I've heard about them is that some painters buy them for the glitter that some of the colors have, which was never particularly interesting to me. I've also heard some people simply call them curiosity colors that are not useful in real painting.

So when I got to try these and realized how useful they can be, I was very surprised!

Kyanite Genuine is a beautiful, dark, granulating color that is perfectly suited for dark skies, or stormy water.

Fuchsite Genuine is this color that seems very saturated and sits somewhere in between pthalo blue and phthalo green on the turquoise/teal side of the color wheel. If you are obsessed withthese colors, it's very easy to make a vibrant turquoise or teal starting with this color.

Serpentine Genuine is the best out of this bunch, and it's a granulating single pigment green that has flecks of Brown in its undertone.This collar made me want to get all of the single pigment greens in the Primatek line! It's perfect for landscapes!

Watercolor Sticks

I had also never tried the Daniel Smith watercolor sticks before, and it was a very interesting experience working with them.

You can't really call these crayons, because they are too soft to really draw with. At least in my climate. I have read that softness of the sticks varies a lot depending on the humidity of your climate.

They feel closer to something like an oil pastel or an oil state, but even then, I would say that in stick form these are only useful for adding texture to a painting. For most watercolors these would be much more useful when cut into pieces and put into half pans, which is just what I'm going to do.

Thank You Luna!

I learned a ton from this watercolor exchange, and I'm so happy that Luna and I got to know each other through it! Thank you so much for your generous package Luna!


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Art Supply Review: Viviva Colorsheets

I first heard about Viviva colorsheets last year when I watched a video from StudioBAS. The colors were amazingly vibrant and saturated, so I knew I had to try them!

I wrote to Rohan and Aditya, who created the product and they sent me a sample. At that time, they were planning on doing a kick starter in October 2016, and they had a totally different design for the product.

After sending out more samples and getting feedback, they have completely revamped the product, and I have to say that is a joy to use!


The story behind Viviva Colorsheets is that my brother Aditya is an amateur painter since childhood. He is currently a medical student studying to be a doctor and used to always complain that ever since he got into medschool, he doesn't get the time to paint at all. And given how it used to be a stress buster for him, he missed it a lot. And while studying one of the diagnostic techniques he came across a similar process that deposits pigment on paper and that sparked an idea. I've been helping him with things like packaging, brand etc. The name Viviva is our grandmother's initials. :) - Rohan


Quality Where Does it Stand?
Lightfastness Unknown. But since they are dyes, probably highly fugitive
Where Is It Made? Handmade in India
Identification (Color Labeling and Accuracy) There are names printed underneath each of the colors, but several of the color names do not match the expected hue
Size 7.5 x 13 cm
Number of Colors 12 (OLD), 16 (NEW)
Ingredients “The pigments are made from standard inorganic salts/compounds with special additives to make them deposit on paper and pick them with water easily later. We have refrained from using any known harmful chemicals like lead, mercury etc.”

Colors Reviewed

I am reviewing both the old and the new color sheets for comparison. The old color sheep do not have any names. Here are the names of the new ones:

  • Crimson
  • Deep Pink
  • Vermillion
  • Flesh
  • Chrome Yellow
  • Gold Ochre
  • Burnt Umber
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Light Green
  • Sap Green
  • Viridian
  • Peacock Blue
  • Persian Blue
  • Violet
  • Magenta
  • Slate Black


As you can see, both the old and new versions of the product are completely transparent. The colors are extremely vibrant, extremely saturated, and have no granulation.

The problem is that the colors in this set are not very varied. Eight out of the 16 colors in the new set are some kind of red/orange/yellow color. None of the Reds are particularly cool.

The peacock blue and Persian blue are nearly identical, as are the flesh, chrome yellow, and gold ocher. Crimson and deep pink are only distinguishable in tints, and are the same in mass tone.

Just as a note, these colors will stain anything that they touch, possibly permanently. Also, if you get the papers very wet, they will smell a bit.


These colors mixed together with absolutely no problem. Since they are dies, they have very good flow, and shoot across the page.

Since this is intended as a of urban sketching or plein air set up, it's worth noting that there is no mixing area in this booklet.


The majority of these colors jump off of the page very easily. There are a couple that need a bit of scrubbing to be activated. When using a medium-size brush, it looks like it activates a lot of the dye, and I'm a little worried that the color will run out very quickly. I haven't had this problem yet, though.

Glazing and Layering

The colors are extremely staining, so it makes it extraordinarily easy to layer the colors. Once a color is put down, it's not going to move. Also, since they are transparent, they build up colors beautifully.


As I said, these colors are extremely vibrant!

For some people, these might be too vibrant, and it could be difficult making more natural, muted colors with this palette.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Extremely Vibrant Colors Not Lightfast
Easy Portability Unbalanced Palette of Colors
Able to Create a Wide Range of Colors No Mixing Palette
Designed and Handmade in India
Extremely Transparent

Who is it for?

This is not for somebody who wants serious watercolors all the time.

Normally, I would never recommend a product that I was almost certain was extremely fugitive. I don't really like the idea of using lower quality watercolors for sketches and things like that.

However, I do love these Viviva color sheets.

Why? Because they are extremely portable. I can slip these in my pocket or my prayers and as long as I have a water brush, I have something to paint with. A watercolor field set cannot get any more simple than this!

I have several small portable watercolor sets, but this is the one that is always with me. You know how they say that the best tool is the one in your hand? That's how I feel about these.

So the Viviva colorsheets are perfect for the person who always wants to be ready to paint, but cannot always spare the room that a watercolor kit might take up.

The Last Word

  • Quality: ★★★*
  • Overall: ★★★

Official Website

Other Discussions

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Zirconium Cerulean Blue PB71

Normally I'm not too excited about specific pigments, but I’m really excited about this one!

Cerulean is a really beautiful color to paint with. It has nice granulation, a light blue color that is perfect for skies, and it’s cool and non-staining.

It's not really a color that you can replicate with any other pigment, although some manufacturers make a cerulean blue cube by mixing phthalo blue with white. I really try to avoid white in my watercolors because it adds a chalky look that I don't really like.

I used to have Caribbean in my palate, but once I realized that it includes cobalt, which is a toxic chemical, I removed it from my palette.

Then one day, I learned about zirconium cerulean blue!

As far as I'm aware that this pigment is only available from Kremer pigments. They sell it in a powder form as well as watercolor half and full pans. I got a full pan of the watercolor and I’m so happy that I did!


Versus Cerulean Blue PB 35

The color is not exactly a match for traditional cerulean blue which is made out of PB35 or PB36, but it's a close. It's slightly cooler, and it granulates a bit more.

In terms of granulation, zirconium cerulean actually seems pretty close to manganese blue genuine, which is the very toxic pigment. You could add a little bit of phthalo blue or phthalo turquoise to get an almost exact match. Also, adding a little bit of phthalo green gives you something close to cobalt blue turquoise or cobalt teal.

Also, it's a lot heavier, and doesn't move in water as freely as cerulean blue does. I think that you could probably add ox gall to this color to make it flow a bit more.

Despite these differences, I think that it's a very good substitute and has most of the characteristics that I loved about cerulean blue without the toxicity.


mixing zirconium

I did a couple of tests mixing PP 71 with other colors.

With Potter's pink, it makes a series of beautiful grays and the old granulating purples. With PY 175, it makes amazingly vibrant granulating spring greens. With PR 122 makes saturated purples as well as lavenders, which is something that is difficult to achieve with other blues. Finally, with Indian or Venetian red, it makes deep dark browns and cool grays, similar to the way that burnt sienna mixes with ultramarine blue.

Check it out!

If you're interesting in trying out an unusual pigment, or you're looking to substitute the really improve on your palette, order one of these from Kremer pigments and I think you won't be disappointed !


Kremer Watercolor - Zirconium Cerulean Blue

Zirconium Blue and Cerulean Comparison | Too Much White Paper

Artist AEE Miller - unSpooky Laughter Studio


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Sadie Saves the Day is on Patreon!!!

Hi! I’m Sade, the artist behind Sadie Saves the Day!

I love painting botanical illustrations and portraits in watercolor and gouache.

I also make reviews, tutorials, and speed paints on my YouTube channel.

As a freelance artist, it can be hard to find the time and energy to do all of these things at once. Whether I am creating a course to teach you how to mix watercolors, designing a template to allow you to Swatch your colors, or getting into the nitty-gritty on a review of some gouache paint, all of these things require time.

And I need your help to keep doing them.

Why Am I Joining Patreon?

There are a ton of things that I want to do for you guys.

I want to make better content, more frequently, and more consistently.

I want to make more and better YouTube videos, more frequent blog and social media updates, and more comprehensive watercolor tutorials.

I have a humongous list of ideas for videos that I just can’t wait to film and edit!

Basically, I want to make more great content for all of you!

Patreon allows me to spend the time to do this.

Your help would allow me to film more videos exploring museums and art shops, pay my bills, and buy art supplies to make more paintings and reviews.

How Does This Work?

It’s really simple.

If you like my work and you want to help and support me, choose one of the monthly pledges.

Even one dollar means a lot to me!

Eight patrons pledging just 1 dollar means that I can get a yearly pass to paint at a castle! A castle!

You can change your pledge anytime you want. You can pledge for one month, two months, or if you’re especially amazing you can just keep pledging forever!

And if for whatever reason you have to stop pledging, you can do that too.

Reward Time!

I’ve spent a while designing a bunch of rewards that I’m super excited to share with you. To be honest, I have even more rewards that I want to share, but I will add them to the Patreon as it grows.

The rewards include:

  • Exclusive behind the scenes updates
  • Early access to all of my YouTube videos
  • Access to a library of reference photos that you can use in all of your painting projects
  • Private Monthly Hangouts, where we can chat about art and watercolors
  • Voting privileges on YouTube topics, and your name in the credits
  • First access to all of my watercolor tutorials and courses
  • Custom paintings made just for you
  • A watercolor tin filled with my favorite watercolors
  • And a ton more!

Thank You!

I just want to say thank you so much!

I appreciate any support that you can give me to help me keep painting for you!

If you can’t support with money, that’s okay. Watching and sharing my videos means a lot to me too.

Thank you. See you soon!


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A Look Inside My Palette

I have been wanting to make a sort of watercolor resource including swatches of all the colors I have been able to get my hands on. Since that would mean watching all of the colors in my palate, I decided to take this as an opportunity to talk about the colors that I paint with regularly.

At the moment there are 42 colors in my main palette, although that’s probably way more than I need. My palette is in a state of transition, and I’m really trying to figure out what yellows and oranges are important to my painting.

In addition to those 42 colors, I also have 38 other colors that are not in my main palette. They are either redundant, not exactly fitting my needs, or waiting their turn to be put into the pallet.

My Selection Criteria

The way I choose colors is pretty simple. I want high quality, single pigment colors, that are fairly non-toxic. I stay away from cadmium, cobalt, cerulean, manganese, and viridian paints.

(Even though I really love cerulean and viridian, and miss them very much. I have heard that Kremer Pigments sells a non-toxic Zirconium Cerulean that I just can’t wait to get my hands on!)

I also want my colors to mix well and try to avoid repeating the same hue unless there is something very different in the characteristic of the watercolor.

The brands I choose are often determined by whether the pigment I want is available in the brand, the quality of the pigment in that brand, and the price.

Main Palette


2017_02_10_14_26_04 copy.jpg
  • PY 53 – Nickel Titanate Yellow – Daler Rowney
  • PY 175 – Lemon Yellow Hue – Winsor & Newton (discontinued)
  • PY3 – Lemon Yellow – Schmincke
  • PY 97 – Transparent Yellow – Winsor and Newton (discontinued)
  • PY 153 – Sennelier Yellow Light – Sennelier
  • PY 97 – Hansa Yellow Medium – Daniel Smith
  • PY 74 –Schveningen Yellow Light – Old Holland
  • PY 153 – Indian yellow – Daler Rowney
  • PBR 7 – Raw Umber – M Graham
  • PBR 7 – Burnt Umber – Daler Rowney
  • PY 43 –Goethite – Daniel Smith
  • PBR 24 – Naples Yellow – M Graham
  • PO 49 – Quinacridone Gold – Daniel Smith

As you can probably tell from this list, I have some kind of yellow obsession. For a while I was on the hunt for the coolest yellow possible, and I think that I have finally found it with Nickel Titanate Yellow. Still I am tinkering around to figure out the best combination of cool, warm, and middle yellows, so my palette is kind of a mess.

PY 53 – Nickel Titanate Yellow – Daler Rowney

This is the coolest yellow that I have been able to find. Unfortunately, it’s a bit opaque, but it makes the most vibrant greens with phthalo blue or phthalo green that I have ever seen!
Note: You can mix this with nearly any color to make a pastel or milky version.


PY 175 – Lemon Yellow Hue – Winsor & Newton (discontinued) & PY 97 – Transparent Yellow – Winsor and Newton (discontinued)

I was lucky to find beef to discontinued yellow colors from Winsor and Newton on the sales rack at my local art store. They are both beautiful colors, and very lovely and transparent. Unfortunately, I don’t think that I will be able to find a replacement once they are out because the same pigments and other brands seem to have a different hue.

PY 153 – Sennelier Yellow Light – Sennelier

My favorite middle yellow. Sennelier makes the best yellows, they just all glow.

PY 74 –Schveningen Yellow Light – Old Holland

This warm yellow is a unique pigment to Old Holland. It’s also different because it is very transparent, but also very lifting. That is a rare trait for yellow paint. Most are very staining.

PY 43 –Goethite – Daniel Smith

I use this pigment instead of yellow ocher. It’s not quite as opaque, and has a nicer texture and some granulation.

PBR 24 – Naples Yellow – M Graham

Naples Yellow is a very opaque paint, and not normally something that I would have imagined keeping on my palette. However I have found that it is really nice and glowing when extremely diluted. It’s useful for natural colors, beaches, and mixing into skin tones to give a little more weight to transparent colors.

PO 49 – Quinacridone Gold – Daniel Smith

Do I even need to say anything about this color? It’s super famous. I actually changed how I painted once I got this color, that’s how useful it is.


  • PY 110 – Indian Yellow – M Graham
  • PO 62 – Chrome Orange – Schmincke
  • PO 71 – Translucent Orange – Schmincke
  • PO 48 – Quinacridone Burnt Orange – Daniel Smith
  • PO 65 – Golden Barok Red – Old Holland
  • PBR 41 – Translucent Brown – Schmincke
  • PR 101 – English Venetian Red – Schmincke
  • PO 73 – Scarlett Pyrrole – M Graham

PO 62 – Chrome Orange – Schmincke & PO 71 – Translucent Orange – Schmincke

Schmincke definitely make some of the best oranges. These colors are pretty unique to them. They are transparent unlike most orange colors, single pigment, and extremely vibrant. Wonderful colors for botanical painting

PO 48 – Quinacridone Burnt Orange – Daniel Smith

I love all of the Quinacridone colors. This is color that I use very often for portrait painting.


PO 65 – Golden Barok Red – Old Holland

A gorgeous brick red, this is a unique color to the Old Holland line. I use it sometimes as a substitute for burnt sienna that doesn’t granulate.

PBR 41 – Translucent Brown – Schmincke

I use a ton of this color for painting portraits, particularly of people with darker skin. I don’t like to use burnt or raw umber because they granulate. If you mix this color with Indanthrene or ultramarine blue, you get a super nice dark brown color.


PO 73 – Scarlett Pyrrole – M Graham

Probably the brightest and most saturated color on my palette. It just pops off the paper. Crazy dispersion. Crazy saturation. Just crazy.


  • PR 254 – Permanent Red Light – Van Gogh
  • PR 206 – Madder Brown – Schmincke
  • PR 254 – Winsor Red – Winsor and Newton
  • PR 179 – Deep Red – Schmincke
  • PR 209 – Quinacridone Red – Daler Rowney
  • PV 19 – Quinacridone Rose – M Graham
  • PR 122 – Purple Magenta – Schmincke

PR 206 – Madder Brown – Schmincke

Another color that I use a lot for portraits. I just really love how soft and warm it is. Nice for a warm brown skin tones, or blush.


PR 179 – Deep Red – Schmincke

If I were to narrow my palette down to a few key colors, this would definitely be on it. I mix this with pyrelene green to make the deepest darkest blacks.

PR 209 – Quinacridone Red – Daler Rowney

So I discovered this by accident. I had so many Quinacridone red colors, that I figured there wasn’t a reason to get another one. But I wanted to try a different pigment. And as soon as I decided to use Quinacridone read, I fell in love. This is just a wonderful, staining, transparent, mostly middle red. It’s lightly on the blue side, but I like my reds slightly cool anyway.


PV 19 – Quinacridone Rose – M Graham & PR 122 – Purple Magenta – Schmincke

Some people use these colors basically interchangeably. They both make wonderful purples when mixed with ultramarine blue. PR 122 is slightly better for this, but PV 19 is less of a finicky color when mixing with the right range of other colors.


2017_02_10_14_29_30 copy.jpg
  • PV 15 – Ultramarine Violet Deep – M Graham
  • PV 55 – Quinacridone Violet – Winsor and Newton

PV 55 – Quinacridone Violet – Winsor and Newton

I don’t have a lot of purples because I like single pigment colors, and many purples are convenience colors or non-lightfast. Dioxazine Violet is often a fugitive color in many brands, so I stay on the safe side and go with my trusty Quinacridone.


  • PB 29 – Ultramarine Blue Deep – Old Holland
  • PP 29 – Ultramarine Finest – Schmincke
  • PB 60 – Indanthrene Blue – Winsor and Newton
  • PB 27 – Prussian Blue – Schmincke
  • PB 15:1 – Phthalo Blue – Schmincke
  • PB 15:3 – Phthalocyanine Blue – M Graham

PB 29 – Ultramarine Blue Deep – Old Holland & PB 29 – Ultramarine Finest – Schmincke

Normally I don’t have doubles of colors on my palate, but these two have very different characteristics. I often like to mix a warm blue that is not granulating, so Schmincke’s Ultramarine Finest is great for that. But when I want really lovely granulation, I go for the Old Holland.

PB 60 – Indanthrene Blue – Winsor and Newton

Probably my favorite blue. I use it to darken everything.


PB 27 – Prussian Blue – Schmincke

This is my mixing blue. I find that it mixes nicer and gentler colors and ultramarine does, so it’s an essential color on my palette. Also the blue that I use when painting portraits.

PB 15:1 – Phthalo Blue – Schmincke & PB 15:3 – Phthalocyanine Blue – M Graham

Phthalo blue comes in a red and a green shade, however if this pair is not far enough apart for it to be noticeable. I will probably replace the M. Graham phthalo blue with the new Rembrandt phthalo blue red shade that I have gotten.


  • PG 7 – Phthalo Green – Schmincke
  • PG 36 – Phthalo Green Yellow Shade – M Graham
  • PBK 31 – Pyrelene Green – Winsor and Newton
  • PBr 7, PB 15 – Cascade Green – Daniel Smith
  • PY 129 – Brown Green –Sennelier

PG 7 – Phthalo Green – Schmincke & PG 36 – Phthalo Green Yellow Shade – M Graham

I didn’t think that it was necessary to have both phthalo greens, but having been a green yellow shade makes a really big difference in mixing greens. This pair is sufficiently far enough apart that they can be really useful and versatile.

PBK 31 – Pyrelene Green – Winsor and Newton

This is the last in the series of dark colors that I love. I use this, Deep Red, and Indanthrene Blue to add deep values to nearly every painting.


PBr 7, PB 15 – Cascade Green – Daniel Smith

This is the only convenience color on my palette. I just love the granulation and how the color separate. Even though I can mix myself, this is much more convenient. I use the color rarely, but when I do I’m very happy to have it.

PY 129 – Brown Green –Sennelier

Another kind of odd color, that is really great because of its duotone nature. Mixes with purples and with yellows to make interesting browns and greens.




PBk 11 – Lunar Black – Daniel Smith

Normally I don’t believe in using black in watercolor, but the granulation of this pigment is insane. I love using it just to play around, or to get texture in rocks.

Supplementary Palettes/Other Colors

  • PBk 9 – Ivory Black – Schmincke
  • Po 62, Pg 7 – Permanent Green Olive – Schmincke
  • Py 151 – Azo Yellow – M Graham
  • Py 184 – Permanent Lemon Yellow – Van Gogh
  • Pbr 7 – Burnt Sienna – White Nights
  • PY 43, PR 102, PY 83 – Raw Sienna – White Nights
  • Nr 9 – Rose Madder Genuine – Winsor And Newton
  • Per 7 – Burnt Umber – Schmincke
  • PY 42 – Yellow Ocher – Schmincke
  • PB 29 – Ultramarine Blue – M Graham
  • PB 27 – Prussian Blue – Daler Rowney
  • PP 29 – Ultramarine Deep – Van Gogh
  • PR 122 – Opera Rose – Winsor and Newton
  • Gold (90) – Kuretake Gansai Tambi
  • Persian Blue (63) – Kuretake Gansai Tambi
  • Dark Pink (34) – Kuretake Gansai Tambi
  • PBR 7 – Burnt Sienna – Old Holland
  • PR 102 – Red Ocher – Old Holland
  • PB 16 – Helio Turquoise – Schmincke
  • PG 23 – Green Earth – Rembrandt
  • PV 42 – Royal Purple Lake – Old Holland
  • PBR 7 – Raw Sienna Deep – Old Holland
  • PR 255 – Permanent Red Middle – Rembrandt
  • PY 184 – Permanent Lemon Yellow – Rembrandt
  • PY 150 – Aureoline – Rembrandt
  • PB 15 – Phthalo Blue (red shade) – Rembrandt
  • PV 19 – Permanent Carmine – Schmincke
  • PB 15:1, PBR 7, PBK 9 – Sepia – Schmincke

Nr 9 – Rose Madder Genuine – Winsor and Newton

It’s too bad that this color is fugitive. It’s really beautiful. I don’t know of any other slightly granulating, non-staining, vibrant pink.

PR 122 – Opera Rose – Winsor and Newton

Another fugitive color, which is why I do not keep it in my main palette. It is superduper vibrant, but I feel like I can see it fading even a few days after I have painted with it. I almost never use it.

PB 16 – Helio Turquoise – Schmincke

A color in between phthalo blue and phthalo green. It’s really vibrant, and almost like a tropical sea. You can mix this same color by mixing phthalo blue with phthalo green, but this is more convenient. It is a good cyan primary color. One day I would like to try Holbein’s PB 17.

PG 23 – Green Earth – Rembrandt

A fairly odd color in watercolors. I am always interested in single pigment greens that are non-toxic. It’s nice that it granulates gently. I could see using this a lot for nature colors. I would also like to try this as a underpainting for portraits.

PV 42 – Royal Purple Lake – Old Holland

I saw this color recommended, and wanted to try it out as a pink watercolor. I don’t paint paintings very often, but I know that a lot of people do. This is very nice and pink, obviously not as pink as Opera rose. It is also a good magenta primary color.

PBR 7 – Raw Sienna Deep – Old Holland

While many people use yellow ocher when painting portraits, I really dislike the opacity in the flatness of it. Raw sienna has a similar hue, but it is much less opaque, and much more vibrant to me. I would recommend this over the yellow ocher.

PR 255 – Permanent Red Middle – Rembrandt & PY 184 – Permanent Lemon Yellow – Rembrandt

These will probably replace the Van Gogh versions that I currently have a my palette. Since these are the artist grade to their student grade, it makes sense that these colors are more vibrant and transparent.

PB 15 – Phthalo Blue (red shade) – Rembrandt

As I said before, this will probably replace the M Graham phthalo blue in my palette.

Winsor and Newton Cotman

  • PB 29 – Ultramarine – Winsor and Newton Cotman
  • PBR 7, PY 42 – Burnt Umber – Winsor and Newton Cotman
  • PY 42 – Yellow Ocher –Winsor and Newton Cotman
  • PR 101 – Burnt Sienna –Winsor and Newton Cotman
  • PY 139, PG 36, PR 101 – Sap Green –Winsor and Newton Cotman
  • PR 149, PR 255 – Cadmium Red Hue –Winsor and Newton Cotman
  • PY 65, PR 255 – Cadmium Red Pale Hue –Winsor and Newton Cotman
  • PY 97, PY 65 – Cadmium Yellow –Winsor and Newton Cotman
  • PY 175 – Lemon Yellow (discontinued?) –Winsor and Newton Cotman

That’s all for now! I love to collect unique colors, and new brands, so this list will probably be growing soon.

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Art Supply Review : KUM Automatic Long Point Pencil Sharpener

The KUM Automatic Long Point Sharpener was, until very recently, my favorite pencil sharpener. Even though I have some trouble sharpening with it consistently, is still miles above your standard pencil sharpener.

Facts Where Does it Stand?
Name KUM Automatic Long Point Sharpener (AS2)
Type Handheld with 28 mm holes, it also has two lead pointers at the side
Point Type Long point
Size 6.5 x 2.5 x 3 cm
Body Material plastic with the wedge body made up of light magnesium alloy
Blade Material steel
Made In Germany
Price $4.39- 7.73

The KUM Automatic Long Point Sharpener is marketed under several different names in the United States. There is a Palomino version that is marketed by California Republic Stationers in orange and gold. There is also the Palomino Blackwing version in black and gold. The one I have is blue and is the version that comes with two lead pointers on the side.

The sharpener comes with two extra replacement blades, which are very welcome because it seems that the blades wear out very quickly if you use harder lead pencils. If you’re only using writing pencils within the 2B to HB range, then there is probably no problem. But if you use 10H or 6H pencils, you may find yourself changing the blade very often.

I have also heard about sharpeners coming with dull blades straight from the factory, so if you’re having trouble sharpening with this pencil, consider changing the blade.

The KUM Long Point sharpens in two steps. The first step simply strips away the wood from the graphite core. You end up with a long cylindrical type of graphite which looks a little odd.

The automatic part of the name comes from the auto stop of this first section. There is a big sign that says stop which doesn’t allow you to over sharpen the pencil. don’t be disappointed if he thought there was some kind of electric component. That’s all it is.

The second step actually sharpens the lead. It doesn’t take away any of the wood, but only sharpens the graphite. This is useful, because you can also re-sharpen the pencil without having to strip away any more of the wood.

This is also where you can run into trouble. Depending on the size of the pencil and how well the lead is centered, I often had problems with lead of the pencil breaking before I was finished sharpening. Then I had to start the whole sharpening process all over again.

In order to be successful with the second step, you must be very gentle and very slow.

I also had problems with consistency and sharpening. At its best, the KUM Long Point makes a needlelike point which is so sharp that it can prick you. But this is very inconsistent. Sometimes it cannot get this sharp. Sometimes it is very blunt. Sometimes it basically can’t sharpen the pencil at all.

Despite this, overall it is still an upgrade over most handheld pencil sharpeners. But I’ll be saving it for when I am sketching outside, and use a hand crank sharpener at my desk.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Can produce a very very sharp point Inconsistent sharpening
Small and lightweight Blades dull very quickly
Has a sharpening receptacle Sharpening receptacle is very small
Able to sharpen lead points

Who is it for?

The person who would get the most use out of a very long point is probably an artist, but there are also regular pencil users who like the look of a long point. The point can be extremely sharp and give a very fine line.

However, the sharpener is not for someone who is not willing to deal with the inconsistency that can occur depending on the pencil your sharpening.

I would recommend the sharpener for someone who requires a pencil sharpener on the go, or someone who wants a pencil sharpener at their desk but does not want to give up the be necessary for a hand crank pencil sharpener.

The Last Word

  • Price: ★★★★★
  • Quality: ★★★
  • Overall: ★★★★

In the end, despite its problems, it’s still probably the best (or at least one of the best) portable pencil sharpeners available for those who like long points on their pencils.

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Art Supply Review : Mitsubishi KH20 Pencil Sharpener

This is my new favorite pencil sharpener. It’s easy. Quick. Light. Quiet. Efficient.

What else could you want?

I got this pencil sharpener specifically because I was tired of being frightened to sharpen my Caran d’Ache Museum watercolor pencils. I also thought it was probably time to upgrade since I was doing more work with graphite.

This was definitely an awesome upgrade.

Facts Where Does it Stand?
Name Mitsubishi KH 20 Handheld Pencil Sharpener
Color Black, red, blue
Type Handcrank desktop sharpener with autostop, rubber grips, blunt and long point modes
Point Type Blunt and Long point
Size 13 x 8.5 x 8 cm
Body Material Plastic
Blade Material Metal
Made In China

It’s pretty surprising that this pencil sharpener is made in China, that’s not exactly what you would expect from Mitsubishi. Despite that, there’s no reason to assume that there is any kind of deficiency in quality. The sharpener is sturdy and works very smoothly.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Stabilizes pencil while sharpening Too large to travel with
Autostop Can shorten pencils a great deal
Can sharpen (slightly) larger pencils Not metal, so maybe not super sturdy?
Both long and blunt tips Sometimes sharpens a bit off center
Huge waste receptacle, with viewing hole Does not include desk clamp, must be purchased separately
Fairly quiet
Includes a hole for a desk clamp
Easy disassembly for repairs or troubleshooting
Rubberized base for stability
Rubberized clamps do not damage pencils

Who is it for?

This sharpener is ideal for anybody who just wants to get a good tip every time with no fuss. They are sharpeners that give a sharper point, but not much sharper. If you don’t want to spend time fussing around with those, this is perfect. You could go through an entire collection of pencils in a few minutes and have consistent results.

Since the cutting mechanism is not entirely made out of metal, I wonder just how long the blades will remain sharp. I’m not sure if there is a replacement available.

The blunt tip is an interesting added feature. It’s probably not interesting for most pencil users, but for artists who use colored pencils, it can be helpful to have a broader tip sometimes.

I have seen it recommended that after sharpening several colored pencils, it’s a good idea to sharpen a graphite pencil to make sure that the blades are not excessively dulled.

The Last Word

  • Price: ★★★
  • Quality: ★★★★
  • Overall: ★★★★

I don’t think anybody could go wrong with this sharpener. It’s a good price, good quality, and it doesn’t mar your expensive pencils!

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Learn How to Mix Watercolors
Mix Vibrant Watercolors : How to Mix Color Easily

Mix Vibrant Watercolors : How to Mix Color Easily

I'm really excited to announce that I have created my first Skillshare class on  watercolor mixing!

Have you ever wanted to learn how to mix different colors with watercolors? Are you confused about how to mix watercolor on paper or on the pallet?

These things can be very confusing for beginners and more experience painters alike.

In my class, I show you step-by-step how to understand how colors work in watercolor. Not only is there a video demonstration, but I also have several watercolor mixing chart pdfs available for download to help with the learning process.

If you've been wanting to learn more about colors, swatching , the color wheel, or color charts, check out my course!

Mix Vibrant Watercolors : How to Mix Color Easily

This course is designed for anyone who wants to learn how to mix the perfect shade in watercolor quickly and easily every time. Whether you are just starting to use watercolor, or you can already paint flat washes like a PRO, you'll learn tips and tricks that will show you how simple it is to put the color you imagine right onto the page.

We will start at the very beginning and move on to all of the techniques that can help you create beautiful paintings. Whether you like painting flowers, animals, buildings, or portraits, by the end of this course, you will have new skills that will help you to choose just the right colors for your subjects!


Watercolors are such a joy to work with, but there is one big problem that many people run into. Just how do you mix all of these beautiful pans and tubes of color to make the image that you have in your mind? I will show you how to get to know your watercolors, explore them, and figure out color mixtures that you would never have attempted before.

  • Assemble A Simple And Versatile Watercolor Palette
  • Learn The Specific Qualities Of Your Watercolor Paints
  • Create Your Own Color Wheel
  • Make Resources That Will Continually Make Your Mixing Process Easier
  • Combine Colors To Make Them As Vibrant As Possible Using Simple Color Theory
  • Isolate Colors In An Image Or In Real Life In Order To Accurately Identify Them
  • Put All Of This Information Together To Create A Beautiful Painting!

This course is meant to give you all of the knowledge you will need to start making new colors from the paints that you already have . Not only will you be able to mix the colors shown in this course, but you will be able to make any color that you can dream of on your own with these techniques!

Enroll Here!

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Rotring Tikky Graphic Technical Pen | Inktober Art Supply Review

Rotring’s Radiograph and Isograph are probably the most well-known technical pens and that they had been in the market for a very long time. But how does their cheaper, non-reusable version stand up?

Facts Where Does it Stand?
Name Rotring Tikky Graphic
Color Black
Tip Size .1, .2.,.3, .4, .5, .6, .7, .8
Tip Material Metallic fibre-tip
Reusable? No
Type of ink Pigmented
Archival? Uncertain
Made In China
Price $3.50

I didn’t have any problem using these pens. The alliance that I got from them were not quite as crisp as I would prefer, even on very thick Bristol paper. Because of that, I probably wouldn’t be using them very often for delicate work.

Quality Where Does it Stand?
Drying Speed .1 mm dries in two seconds, .3 mm dries in three seconds, .5 mm dries in eight seconds
Pooling The bigger sizes will pool if left in one spot
Feathering Feathers on Bristol paper
Bleeding/Showthrough none
Appearance over Pencil normal
Waterproof yes
Copic/ Alcohol Marker proof yes
Eraserproof yes

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Line is dark black and pretty solid Bleeds on Bristol paper
Ink flows very quickly and smoothly Makes a thicker line than some other pens for the same size of tip
Ink reservoir window lets you know when the pen is running out Ink can smudge even when you think that it is dry
Copic, water, and eraser proof Bigger sizes pool ink at the end of lines

Who is it for?

Anyone who really wants a technical pen that can keep up with their fast movements. Since the ink flows very quickly, there is no stopping or sputtering of the line. This is great for anyone who doesn’t want to slow down.

However, depending on the way you like to draw, the ink might actually be too much. It bleeds a bit, and the lines are a bit thicker than normal. If you want superduper fine delicate lines, this is probably not the pen.

The Last Word

  • Price: ★★★
  • Quality: ★★★
  • Overall: ★★★

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What is Gansai? | Watercolor 101

What is Gansai?

You have probably heard of the big brands like Kuretake Gansai Tambi, or Kisshou Gansai, but what is gansai really?

Gansai (顔彩) is traditional Japanese watercolor. In English, we tend to refer to both types of paints as simply watercolor. However there are two words for these types of paints in Japanese. Gansai is written 顔彩 and the type of water colors that are more traditional in the West (also called transparent watercolors) are written 水彩.
While Western watercolor is traditionally bound with gum arabic, gansai is bound with a combination that could include glue, starch, gum arabic ,beeswax, sugar syrup, sugar, or glycerin [1][2][3][4]. The glue is made from concentrated collagen and gelatin that has been extracted from animal and fish skins through boiling [5] [6] . When the pigment and binder is mixed together, they are dried in pans. Those in large square pans are called gansai 顔彩, and those in round dishes are called teppatsu 鉄鉢 [7]. They can also be formed into a sort of watercolor pastel/crayon that is called bouenogu 棒絵具 [8]

What is it used for?

More Convenient Version of Iwaenogu 岩絵具 or Suiengou 水干絵具

Iwaenogu 岩絵具 is a type of traditional Japanese paint which is generally made from semi precious stone and other pigments (such as Cinnabar, malachite, azurite, lapis lazuli, etc.) that have been crushed and mixed with the same type of glue that is used in gansai by hand right before it is used[9]. They are very expensive and available in a range of particle sizes.
Gansai is not made with the same type of very expensive pigments used in iwaenogu. Generally, gansai uses the same pigments as suiengou 水干絵具 [10]. Suiengou is made from fine pigments or dyes combined with chalk made from shellfish [11] or purified clay [12]. The pigments are also a bit cheaper than iwaenogu even though they are still of high quality and very lightfast. Just like iwaenogu, suienogu is sold in pigment form and must have glue added to it just before painting.
Since gansai has already been mixed at the proper ratio and is already dried in a pan or dish, it is much more convenient to use than iwaenogu. It’s like the difference between using Western pre-made pan paints versus making your paint by yourself each time you are going to paint a picture.

Underpainting for Iwaenogu 岩絵具

Both suiengou and gansai are often used as the underpainting for iwaenogu because they are much cheaper than the expensive pigments used in that type of paint. By painting with one of these two, the artist can cover up the white of the paper or cloth and provide a ground for the Iwaengou to stick to [13].

Sketching and Etegami [14]

Because it is not as expensive or difficult to use as iwaenogu or suienogu, gansai is often recommended for sketching. Iwaenogu and suienogu are not as convenient as gansai, since they come in pigment form and must be combined with a binder right before painting. On the other hand, gansai is already premixed and in a container, so they are ready to go whenever the feeling to paint strikes you. That makes them a perfect sketching medium.
These are also the reasons that make them great for etegami or Japanese picture postcards. Etegami are meant to be fast, casual, and imperfect. They are full of simple, bright colors and drawings that are meant to express emotion more than accuracy. So this quick medium is also suited to these types of drawings.


Vibrancy and Opacity

When gansai is watered down it retains its vibrancy more than Western watercolors do. Also,gansai’s binder can give it a shiny finish.
Gansai tend to be more opaque than transparent watercolors. Remember that these paints were formulated to work on Japanese paper. Transparent watercolors do not show up very well on Japanese paper, and the additional opacity of gansai help them to appear on the paper with little bleeding.


The binder adhesion in gansai is weak compared to other Japanese paints. As a result, they tend to lift much easier than most transparent watercolors, even when dry.
There are a few things that could contribute to this. When gansai is used on Japanese washi paper, it doesn’t lift as easily as it does on Western watercolor paper, especially when used with ultrasoft Japanese goat-hair brushes. Traditional Japanese paintings are and also not as dependent on layering as Western watercolor paintings, so there is less opportunity for the paint to lift when new layers are added.


The colors of traditional Japanese gansai sets are often different from those in transparent watercolors. These paints were created for Japanese picture painting, which comes from a different tradition than European painting. Japanese colors are also based on colors that can actually be seen in nature, which would probably explain the abundance of blues and greens in many gansai palettes.
The colors can give a calm and peaceful feeling to the viewer because they are not overly saturated.


Why are gansai pans so big? Japanese brushes can be much bigger than Western-style brushes, so they need a bigger pan to ensure the brush hairs are not damaged.


Gansai were not made to be mixed in the same way that transparent watercolors are. This is part of the reason that many gansai sets do not come with a mixing palette.
I have read many reviews that say that gansai paints get muddy when mixed, this makes sense considering the traditional background of the paints, however I have never experienced this. The colors I have been able to mix from gansai have been very clear and bright.


Many reviews disparage the quality of gansai because they don’t act in the same way that Western watercolors do. I think that this is unfair. They are not the same type of paint, so they can’t be expected to behave in the same way.
Of course, just like there are high-grade and low-grade watercolors, or high-grade and low-grade oil paints, there are high-grade and low-grade gansai paints.

Western Paints (eg: Winsor and Newton, Schmincke) versus Gansai

Western Paints Gansai
Come in half and full pans Generally come in one size pan
Gum Arabic binder Binder may be a combination of glue, starch, gum arabic ,beeswax, sugar syrup, sugar, and glycerin
Tend to be more transparent Can be more opaque
High quality versions mix well Can be more difficult to mix 3 or more colors
Varying staining levels Mostly lifts very easily
Dries Matte Dries Glossy
Available in Tubes Not available in tubes


About Gansai

About Traditional Japanese Painting in General

About Japanese Colors

Blue and Green

Other Colors

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Art Supply Review: M Graham Artist's Gouache

When I ran out of some colors in my Winsor and Newton gouache set I decided to try some different brands. At the top of my list was M Graham gouache. I am really happy that I decided to try these since they have definitely lived up to the artist grade gouache claims that I have heard about.


Quality Where Does it Stand?
Lightfastness 31 out of 35 colors in the line have an LF I rating of Excellent, and 4 out of 82 colors in the line have an LF II rating of Very Good. All of the colors in the line have a very high permanence rating.
Where Is It Made? USA
Identification (Color Labeling and Accuracy) The tubes have color swatches on the front that are fairly accurate. They also have the name in English, French, and German. The tubes also include the series number, like fastness rating, pigment number along with the pigment name, vehicle, and ASTM D – 4236 confirmation.
Tube size 15 mL (.5 ounces)
Price Around $5-$8 per tube

Colors Reviewed

  • Quinacridone rose – lightfastness I, PV 19
  • Hansa yellow (primary) – lightfastness II, PY3
  • Pthalocyanine blue (primary) – lightfastness I, PB 15:3
  • Raw Sienna – lightfastness I, PBr7
  • Burnt Sienna – lightfastness I, PBr7
  • Lamp Black – lightfastness I, PBk6


There is so much pigment in these paints. It’s just totally vibrant. It’s also very clear that they do not add a new pacifiers to the payments because classically transparent pigments like Quinacridone rose and Phthalocyanine blue are not opaque unless they are applied extraordinarily thickly. That’s fine with me because you can always add white to make your pigment more opaque if you want to.

The opaque paints like raw sienna, burnt sienna, and lamp black are completely and totally opaque.

All of the colors water down very nicely and they are not chalky at all. They have a velvety matte finish that is just wonderful to look at.


There is absolutely no problem mixing these colors. The all mixed very cleanly. Actually, there is so much pigment in some of the colors that you may need to water them down to get the shade that you desire.


M Graham gouache re-wets very easily. There is no problem and the colors are not diluted. You do not need to scrub of your brush, and you can get very opaque colors with little difficulty. This is totally different from the Winsor and Newton gouache.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Lightfast Colors Not easily available outside of the United States of America
Re-wets very well Product line is not as large as some other brands, although that is probably because they focus on lightfast pigments and single pigment colors
Artist grade gouache Not all paints are completely opaque without adding white
Does not contain chalk or pacifiers
All the colors dilute extremely well
Great price

Who is it for?

Anyone and everyone who is interested in learning to paint with gouache! The colors mix beautifully. It takes a lot of the frustration that I felt with the Winsor and Newton gouache out of the painting process.

The M Graham paints are even slightly cheaper than the Windsor and Newton paints, so it seems like there are no downsides.

The Last Word

  • Price: ★★★★★
  • Quality: ★★★★★
  • Overall: ★★★★★

I love these paints. They’re the best gouache that I have ever used. I would recommend them to anyone.

The only potential downside is that it is a little more difficult to acquire these paints over here in Europe. There are only two places that I know of where they can be bought in Europe, and that’s at a more expensive price than available in the United States.

Outside of that, I don’t see any reason why anyone would be upset with these paints unless they really do not want to modify the opacity of their own paints with white.

Just Go Buy Them Already!


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Art Supply Review: Faber Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils

These are considered some of the highest quality watercolor pencils available. Do they stand up to that claim?


Quality Where Does it Stand?
Lightfastness 64 out of 120 have the highest lightfastness rating
Where Is It Made? Germany
Identification (Color Labeling and Accuracy) The pencil are completely covered in a lacquer that is the same color as the lead. the pencils also have their name written in German, English, and a color number code with lightfastness rating.
Shape Hexagonal
Sharpening These pencils are a little bit too big to fit into an average sharpener, but when they are sharpened the wood is smooth and the tip doesn’t break too much.
Dissolubility It might take more than one swipe, but the marks made by the pencil are able to be completely dissolved without too much effort.
Open Stock Yes, it is available open stock.
Packaging The sets come in cute little metal tins that can be used for storage or reused for something else because they seem quite durable.
Price Around $1.60 per pencil


*The pencils themselves seem really well made. I love that the whole pencil is lacquered with the correct color, so it’s really easy to tell at a glance what color pencil you are reaching for.

  • The marks that these pencils leave behind dissolved fairly easily. Much better than most other watercolor pencils I have tried.

  • The core is soft, but not super soft, so it gives a kind of sturdy feeling.

  • They are available open stock, woo! This way you could build up the exact kind of palette that you would want instead of having to get a whole set. They are also fairly readily available.

  • If you use the other products from Faber Castell, you are able to match the colors using their color index to get the exact same shade as the other products.


  • Not all of these colors have the highest lightfastness rating, even though about half of the pencils have the highest. So that might be nitpicking a bit.

  • Even though the lines are easy to dissolve, I have to scrub a bit, which I would not want to do with my softer brushes.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

I don’t think that anyone could go wrong with these watercolor pencils. They are high quality, and even though they are not the cheapest pencils they are not overly expensive.

These are not my absolute favorite pencils, but I know that most people will not want to spend the extra money for the Caran d’Ache Museum pencils.

I use these pencils for sketching and planning out some of my watercolor paintings. They are really fun to work with!

Other Reviews

Where to Get It

Official Website


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Art Supply Review: Winsor & Newton Designers' Gouache Introductory 10-Tube Paint Set

I needed to refresh my palette of gouache paint, so I decided to do this review before I mix ox gall, glycerin, and honey into my paints.

I’ll be honest, and say that I have not really enjoyed this Winsor and Newton gouache set. The warm and cool colors are not the ones that I would have chosen. Also, if I do not add other ingredients, the paints will be almost unusable and dry hard as a rock.

Still, I haven’t painted with them in their raw form in quite a while, so I tried to look at them with fresh eyes.


Quality Where Does it Stand?
Lightfastness 15 out of 82 colors in the line have an AA rating of extremely permanent, and 52 out of 82 colors in the line have an A rating of permanent. So 67 of the 82 colors in the line have a permanent or extremely permanent rating.
Where Is It Made? France
Identification (Color Labeling and Accuracy) The tubes of paint have small swatches of color on the front which are not very accurate to the color that is inside the tube. They also include the lightfastness, the color series, the color name in three languages, the pigment name, the opacity, and ASTM D4236 information.
Tube size 14 mL (.47 ounces)
Price Around $5 per tube

Colors In the 10 Tube Set

  • Zinc White – permanence A , PW5, opaque
  • Yellow Ochre – permanence AA, PY 42, opaque
  • Ultramarine – Permanence A, PB 29, opaque
  • Spectrum Red – permanence A, PBR 25+ PR 170, opaque
  • Primary Yellow – permanence A, PY 74+ PY 138, semi opaque
  • Primary Red – permanence B, PR170, semi-opaque
  • Primary Blue – permanence A, PB 15, opaque
  • Permanent Yellow Deep – permanence of A, PY 65, semi opaque
  • Ivory Black – permanence AA, PBK9, opaque
  • Permanent Green Medium – permanence A, PY3 + PY 74+ PG7, opaque


As you can see in my swatches, the colors are all very opaque. Even the yellow can be made opaque on a black surface if enough pigment is applied.
The colors are also pretty bright and vibrant. The one problem I had is that they do not they were very prettily. It just kind of looks like sludge. That is probably because of the high level of chalk that is probably in this paint in order to make it so opaque. It also gives the paints over all a fairly chalky look.


There are no problems mixing Winsor and Newton Designer Gouache colors. Even though there are some multi-pigment colors, these also makes cleanly.


These colors did not re-wet well at all. They dry to a hard lump and even when water is applied, they only become a sort of watery slurry. If you want to use these colors, I would recommend using them fresh or adding things like honey or glycerin to keep them workable.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Lightfast Colors High Level of Chalk
Easily Available Does not re-wet well
One of the few higher quality gouache brands Low price to quality ratio
Opaque The colors do not dilute well

Who is it for?

These pigments are best for the person who is looking to step up in their gouache paint quality, but doesn’t have access to other brands of higher-quality paint like Holbein, M Graham, or Schmincke.
If you have access to these other brands, I would recommend that you go with them over these because they are too expensive for the quality that you receive.
On the other hand, if you are looking for paint that is definitely going to be opaque, then these might be good. Since they have additional talk added, the majority of the colors are very opaque. Brands like M Graham and Schmincke do not have talk added, and so can be more opaque until white is added to the colors.

The Last Word

  • Price: ★★☆☆☆
  • Quality: ★★★☆☆
  • Overall: ★★★☆☆

Personally, I did not enjoy these paints, and would not recommend them if other high-quality brands are available. However they are not a low quality paint and I think that many artists could enjoy working with them.


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Images Painted With This Gouache

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Art Supply Review: Uni Posca Paint Brush Pen (PCF-350)

Calligraphers are always looking for the perfect white ink, but what about the perfect white brush pen?

I’ve only ever seen a few, and so I had to try out this Uni POSCA when I saw one.

It's an ink-based brush pen that uses a pump system to deliver the pigment. Pretty unique, huh?


Quality Where Does it Stand?
Ergonomics/Feel It has a normal pen body, so it handles normally.
Tip Type Felt
Firmness Medium
Ability to Flex Stiff
Tip Size Medium
Sharpness Blunt
Ink flow Medium
Pigmentation Medium
Bleed No bleed
Watersolubility Waterproof
Copic/Alcohol Marker Proof Yes
Smell No smell
Lightfastness Very Lightfast
Acidity Acid Free
Toxicity Non-toxic
Color Availability 60 Colors


  • It’s a white brush pen!

  • You could use the Uni Posca for accents and really large brush lettering on toned or black paper, which is pretty cool.

  • Totally unintended, but you can mix the pigment from the Uni Posca with pigment from your water soluble pens (like the Winsor and Newton watercolor marker or the Tombow dual brush pen) to get pastel shades. That’s so cute!

  • You can use the Uni POSCA to write on unconventional surfaces. It will even write on glass, rocks, or porcelain. Basically, it will work on any surface you try! (Keep in mind that the paint can be wiped or scratched away on nonporous surfaces)


  • The white is not totally opaque, and the brush can get pretty dry unless you’re constantly pumping the button.

  • The bristles don’t really come to a sharp point, so it’s hard to get good detail with this brush. [1]

  • Did I mention how much I hate pumping the button? ‘Cause it’s a lot.

My Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I had so many expectations for this price, but I don’t think I’ll be using it very often. I just hate that button, and no matter how many times I press it, I just can’t get the ink to be as juicy and wet as I want it to be.

Bristle brushes are generally harder to control than felt brushes, so I don’t think I would recommend this to a beginner.

In the end, it’s probably easier to work with an actual brush than the Uni POSCA brush pen.

Other Reviews Of This Pen

Where to Get It

Official Website

POSCA PCF–350 - paint, colour, draw, decorate, calligraph - All material markers


  1. It is also possible that there is a fine point version of this pan, which would make me very excited!  ↩

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Watercolor 101: How to Take Care of Your Brushes

So you finally picked your brushes, bought them, and brought them home. Now what do you do?

This is a post in my Watercolor 101 series. If you haven't read the other posts in the series, check them out here:

  1. Watercolor 101: Everything You Need to Know about Brushes
  2. Watercolor 101: All About Natural Hair Brushes
  3. Watercolor 101: All About Synthetic Fiber Brushes
  4. Watercolor 101: How to Choose Good Brushes — Sadie Saves the Day!

What to Do When You First Get a Brush

This section mostly refers to natural hair brushes. Synthetic brushes are generally ready to go as soon as you get them.

So when you get your brush, it's probably got this little cap on it. Take that off and get rid of it. It might be tempting to put it back on to protect the brush, but this will most likely just damage the bristles and encourage mold. Do you want a moldy brush? No, I didn't think so.

OK, now the Is off. You've probably noticed that your brush is kind of hard. Don't worry, that's not a problem. That is just some gum arabic that the manufacturer has put on the brush to protect it. All you have to do is wash it out.

Don’t smash the bristles between your fingers. Get some warm water and run it into a cup or your hand and gently press the bristles until they are completely free from the gum arabic.

There, now you're ready to paint!

Brush Maintenance

So you've been painting with your brushes and having a lot of fun. What do you do now?

It's recommended that you clean your brushes after every painting session to make sure that they will last a long time. You can do this with pure water or with a brush cleaner.

Some people don't recommend cleaning natural hair brushes with soap very frequently, but I find that I have the best results from washing and conditioning my sables after each painting session.

How to Clean Your Brush

  1. Take all of your dirty brushes over to a sink with running water.

  2. Set the faucet to run either cool or warm water. Never use hot water because that can damage both natural and synthetic bristles.

  3. If you are using only water, gently stroke the brush in your hands the same way you would while painting. Do this until you don't see pigment coming out anymore.

  4. If you are using soap, take out your soap. You can either use regular hand soap, shampoo, or specialized brush soap. Hand soap is fine for synthetic brushes, but you should be careful what type of shampoo you use for natural hair brushes. Many shampoos have additives that are dangerous for the fibers. I would recommend using a specialized brush soap like this one: The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver - BLICK art materials

  5. Add the water to your brush and to the soap cake. Stroke the soap cake with your brush as if you are painting. Do it gently.

  6. When you have built up a foam, rinse it off in the water. Keep doing this until the foam no longer has pigment in it.

  7. If you are washing a natural hairbrush, I also coat the bristles in The Masters Brush Cleaner, which acts as a conditioning agent and keep my brushes pointed. You don't have to do this, but I find that it helps. Some people say it also helps synthetic brushes.

  8. Allow your brushes to dry either horizontally on a towel or hanging with their tips down in a special brush holder. It's best to have the brushes hanging upside down because this allows the water to drip away from the ferrule.

  9. That’s it!

Things You Shouldn't Do

  • Don't ever leave your brush standing in your water cup. That gets water and pigment into the ferrule, splayed out your bristles, and ruins the lacquer on your brush. Don't do it!

  • Don’t allow your brushes to dry with the tips pointing upwards. Remember, we're trying not to get water and pigment in the ferrule.

  • Don’t use your finely pointed brushes for scrubbing paint or rubbing pigment. That's a great way to destroy them. Use a cheap brush to mix paint and lift pigment.

  • Don't use your brushes for anything except water color paint. Some people might disagree with this one, and I certainly don't always follow this rule. But remember that other pigments can damage your brushes.

  • Please, please, please don't lick your brush. It's bad for you and your brush. Many artists work with heavy-metal pigments such as cadmium and cobalt. When you are licking your brush, you're ingesting these pigments. Also, your transferring bacteria onto your bristles that can then cause mold both on your brush and in your paints. Who wants that?


For everyday storage, I just keep my brushes in some old jars. You can get fancy brush holders, but I'd rather spend that money on the brushes themselves.

For short-term storage, brushes should be rolled in a bamboo roll, which allows them to remain dry and have air circulation.

Longer-term storage is a bit different. Brushes should be sealed up in some kind of plastic container in order to prevent insects or animals eating the fibers. (Yes, it does happen!)

When Has a Brush Outlived Its Life Span?

How do you know when it's time for a brush to go?

  • The bristles are splayed

  • It no longer comes to a point

  • It's clogged with paint and you can't get it out no matter what you do.

It seems sad to get rid of the breast, doesn't it? Well, you don't have to! You can keep these old brushes away and use them for special effects like grass, fur, and tree limbs. Old brushes are also great for applying masking fluid and for scrubbing to lift off paint.

There, now I have taught you everything that I know about brushes! But what's the point of brushes without paint? That's what we'll cover in the next section of Watercolor 101!

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