art supply review

Matteo Grilli Watercolor

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Matteo Grilli

Maker Matteo
Location Brisbane, Australia
Website Matteo Grilli Wildlife Art: Handmade Watercolour Paints
Etsy? Wildlife Watercolour Art Handmade Watercolour by MatteoGrilliArt
Average Price per Pan $10.52
Specialization Simply high quality watercolors for the professional watercolor artist
Number of Colors 10
Opacity? transparent colors are very transparent, and opaque colors are appropriately opaque
Special or Exclusive Colors An Indian Yellow with PY153
Pigment Information? Yes
Ingredients Schmincke pigment, Gum Arabic, Honey and Essential Oil of Clove
Vegan? No

Note from the Maker

I have been painting with watercolours for 23 years and I have been making watercolour paints for the last four years. Every batch of paint is hand-mixed on the glass slab for no less than one hour non-stop. These handmade watercolour paints feel very smooth on the brush and on the paper. All paints are very lightfast.

Swatches

Overview

A talented professional artist himself, Matteo makes these paints for his own use and eventually decided to share them with others.

In a sense they are very simple. Only 10 colors. Single pigment. Nothing fancy.

But there is something to be said for a line that simply focuses on quality and utility. You can see in the way these paints shine in his own paintings come out where his focus is. The end result. Beautiful paintings.

You can see how careful he is in the creation of his watercolors in videos he has produced and blog posts explaining the topic.

Pros

  • Extremely well made paints
  • Color payoff is great even from dot cards
  • Includes all colors necessary for nearly all paintings in the range
  • Perfect for the painter who simply wants their paints to do their job well

Cons

  • Packaging is not fancy or cute
  • Line does not include a very wide range, and is very orthodox

Who is it for?

These pains are best suited to the painter who simply wants to get their job done with very high-quality paint. There are no glitter paints. There are no multi pigment colors. Just a few single pigment colors.

Mateo is an artist himself, and you can see that in the colors that he has made here. These are colors for a working artist. You didn’t have to worry about the pigments that he has chosen fading on you or ever worry about low pigment load. They are reliable and dependable. And of course, beautiful!

Links

Reviews

Art Supply Review: Eventually Everything Mixes

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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.

Stats

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

  • LAUSITZER OCHRE - PY 43
  • PYRELENE MAROON - PR 179
  • WATER BY THE PIER - PB 71, PR 101
  • FREE- HE WANTED TO BE - PB 71, PBK 11, COPPER BLUE

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!

Swatches

eemswatch.jpg
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.

Mixing

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.

Re-wetting

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.

Vibrancy

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

Availability

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Art Supply Review: Old Holland Watercolors

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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.

Handprint.com 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!

Background

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.

Pseudo-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.

Pamphlet

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.

Stats

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

  • GOLDEN BAROK RED – PO 65
  • SCHEVENINGEN YELLOW LIGHT – PY 174
  • ULTRAMARINE BLUE DEEP – PB 29

Swatches

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.

Mixing

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.

Re-wetting

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.

Vibrancy

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

Availability

In Europe

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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.

Primatek

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!

Links

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!

cerulean

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

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 !

Links

Kremer Watercolor - Zirconium Cerulean Blue

Zirconium Blue and Cerulean Comparison | Too Much White Paper

Artist AEE Miller - unSpooky Laughter Studio

#Mixing

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.

Official Website

Availability

In USA

In Europe

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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
Price

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!

Official Website

Availability

In USA

In Europe

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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: ★★★

Official Website

Availability

In USA

In Europe

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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.

Stats

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

Swatches

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.

Mixing

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.

Re-wetting

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!

Availability

In Europe

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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?

Stats

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

Pros

*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.

Cons

  • 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!

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Where to Get It

Official Website

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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?

Stats

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

Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  • 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

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

Art Supply Review: Faber Castel Pitt Artist Brush Pen

I got this pen specifically because of its lightfastness. I was pretty upset to find out that Copics are not lightfast, and wanted to find an alternative that wouldn't fade on me. So I turned to the Faber Castell Pitt artist pen.

The ink inside is actually India ink, which is pretty cool. That's what gives it its lightfastness. Unlike most markers, which use dyes, this is a pigment-based ink.

It’s not the most popular pen around on instagram, but it's very easy to pick up in Europe for an OK price. So this was one of the first brush pens that I tried to letter with.

fabercasteltesst.jpg

Stats

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
fabercasteltesst.jpg

Pros

  • Very highly lightfast. Actually, some of the shades are so lightfast that they should last longer than 100 years!

  • Depending on what kind of paper you use, you can blend with these colors before they dry. It’s kind of difficult though.

  • I love that this comes in a range of grays, which is great for shadows and shading. I also love the fluorescent line, which is more of a novelty than anything else, but it’s fun!

  • Since they are waterproof, you could layer watercolors on top of the Faber Castell Pitt artist pen without worrying about it smudging or bleeding, which is awesome!

Cons

  • The tip of the pen is not conical, like some other brush pens. Instead, it’s kind of long and skinny. I find that I don’t really like this style for brush lettering because it doesn’t give you very thick down strokes.

  • When you first get this pen, it feels very stiff. However, with use it loosens up. The problem is that the very tip also becomes more and more blunt. That is super annoying when I’m looking for a sharp line. [1]

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

This is not one of my favorite brush pens, but it’s not one of my least favorite either. It’s a little too stiff for me and a little too blunt after a while.

However, it’s one of the only brush pens with a felt tip that I know of that is actually lightfast.

I wouldn’t recommend this to beginners because it can be a bit unwieldy, but it’s definitely an awesome pen to complement your collection.

Other Reviews Of This Pen

Price and Where to Find It


  1. Apparently, there’s a way to fix this problem: Sharpen your PITT pen - YouTube  ↩

Art Supply Review: Winsor and Newton Watercolor Marker

I'm not really sure what I was expecting when I bought this!

Something between a watercolor marker and a Copic marker? An alternative to the Tombow dual brush? Something to allow me to do watercolor lettering without lugging around paints and water?

Well, this pen is none of those. And that's not necessarily a bad thing!

Stats

Quality Where Does it Stand?
Ergonomics/Feel It’s a bit thicker than normal pens, so that can be a bit uncomfortable.
Tip Type Felt
Firmness Medium
Ability to Flex Medium
Tip Size Broad
Sharpness Medium
Ink flow Wet
Pigmentation Dark
Self Cleaning Unknown
Bleed No bleed
Watersolubility Watersoluable / Not Waterproof
Copic/Alcohol Marker Proof Yes
Smell No smell
Lightfastness Very Lightfast
Acidity Unknown
Toxicity Non-toxic
Color Availability 36 colors

Pros

  • Holy cow! This thing is pigmented. Just like the Faber Castell Pitt pens, these watercolor markers are actually formulated with pigments. However, instead of Indian ink, these markers use the same pigments that are used in watercolor paints. I really didn't expect the color to be so intensely pigmented, but they are wonderfully deep and rich. It is a very very wet pen.

  • In terms of handling, I would say that this is somewhat like the Tombow dual brush pen but a bit stiffer. It gives wonderfully thick downstrokes.

  • This is actually meant to be a watercolor marker, and the intense pigments definitely would result in beautiful hues for painting or sketching as well as calligraphy or hand lettering.

  • The colors blend out very easily with a bit of water.

  • You might not care about this if you're not into watercolors, but the fact that each brush is labeled just like a tube of water color would be makes it really easy for me to understand what is going on inside of the brush.

  • The color label is very accurate, so you don't have to second-guess what color will be coming out on the paper.

Cons

  • The nib is nice and flexible, but only to a certain point. It seems to stop somewhere halfway up the brush, which is kind of weird.

  • The tip of the brush is not very sharp, so upstrokes are not as thin as I would like.

  • Something about the brush seems a little squishy or unstable, so it's a bit harder to control than the Tombow dual brush pen.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Actually, this was very close to having five stars. I mean, high lightfastness, non-toxic, no odor, what’s there not to like?

However, I have a bit of difficulty managing this pen in comparison to the Tombow dual brush pen, so it gets knocked down one star.

Still, I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a highly pigmented, lightfast brush pen.

Other Reviews Of This Pen

Where to Get It

Official Website

Water Colour Markers | Winsor & Newton

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