watercolor

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.

Where:

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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.

Where:

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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.

Where

About

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.

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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!

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3. Kolinsky Sable Brushes (€27-€68)

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

Why:

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.

Where:

About:

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

Where:

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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

amegirl.jpg

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

Other Discussions

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

Other Discussions

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

Instructions

  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.

Wash

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.

Glazing

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.

Backruns/cauliflowers

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.

Granulation

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.

Softening

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?

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: 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

Elsewhere