Tuesday, 25 July 2017

QoR Watercolours by Golden - 24-colour set

I've recently obtained the 24-colour set of 5-mL QoR watercolour tube paints by Golden. Golden sells a number of paints and mediums under the QoR branding and they sell a number of sets - to be honest, I'm not convinced by some of the sets - who wants a "high chroma set" that doesn't have a proper blue? At least sell warm and cool triads, for example. You can also buy the loose paints, but they're not cheap. This 24-colour set cost me about US$80.00, which is about £60.00 or so - that's not THAT bad at £2.50 per tube, I guess, but I'm aware buying them as open stock or buying them in a lot of European countries is VERY costly. The 6-tube sets on Amazon UK sell for an equivalent of over £4 (US$5.20) per tube, which is a LOT. I got this set from Amazon USA where the price was more economical - I've not seen the 24-set for sale in the UK but on the basis of the 6-sets, I would estimate a sale price in the UK of somewhere near to £100 (US$130) for the set. You can get them fairly economically from Jackson's Art Supplies though:

Golden formulated QoR with a different binder to all other watercolours on the market. The conventional binders in most watercolours are usually gum arabic (from Vachellia seyal Delile (P.J.Hunter)) or gum senegal (from Acacia senegal L. (Willd.)). Gum arabic and gum senegal are both mostly composed of arabinogalactan, a gum polymer made up long chains that alternate between the pentose sugar arabinose and the hexose sugar galactose - so a bit like starch or glycogen, but they're both made up of the hexose sugar glucose. QoR watercolours use the binder Aquazol®, which is entirely synthetic.

Aquazols® (plural) are a range of polymers owned by Polymer Chemistry Innovations Inc. (PIC Inc.), which license the use of Aquazol® in watercolour to Golden. Instead of a mix of two sugars as the monomers of the polymer, Aquazols® use a single monomer - a derivative of the heterocycle 2-oxazoline, which is a 5-membered ring containing 3 carbons, an oxygen and a nitrogen. 2-ethyl-2-oxazoline (2E2O) is the monomer, so it has an ethyl group attached to the carbon in between the N and the O. On its own, 2E2O is a liquid at room temperature and boils at over 125° C (over 250° F or almost 400 K), where as the polymerised form is very different. Firstly, Aquazol® doesn't quite exist - it's a product family. The long chains of 2E2O molecules joined together aren't always the same length, so PIC Inc. separates the mixes into different average sizes and sells them under different names - e.g. Aquazol® 5 has a mean size of 5 kDa (kilodaltons, one Dalton is the atomic mass unit, the atomic mass of carbon-12 being 12 Da), Aquazol® 50, Aquazol® 200 and Aquazol® 500 are also sold, with mean masses of 50 kDa, 200 kDa and 500 kDa. Aquazols® are solid at room temperature and dissolve in water, making clear solutions, and this is why Golden promotes them as being "better" than gum arabic and gum senegal because those polymers are slightly yellow and thus slightly mask some pigments - specifically purples can in theory look slightly duller owing to neutralisation of the colour BUT in practice, I'm not convinced it's really an issue given how microspically thin the layer of polymer is over the pigments when painting watercolour! Aquazols® mostly find their uses for adhering metal gilt and for use as general adhesives in fine art restoration as they don't produce acid over time - and have been used this way for well over 10 years - long before Golden got hold of them.

Whilst I've not yet done a side-by-side road test for this, I have done a "first look" video of the QoR watercolours and swatched out this set:

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

So it's been a while...

As most of you know, I planned to take 4-6 weeks out to deal with some personal crap but it's ended up being more like 12 weeks really. Could not be helped but I've finally unearthed my tripod from the packing crates and hope to be back soon! Hopefully before 1st July anyway!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A little more disruption...

Won't be long. Hoping to be back to normal service levels some time around 5th June all being well - plenty of videos all lined up ready for when I'm back!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Service Disruption

Hello viewing millions. I'm going to need to take a break from YouTube and my website for about a month from now - so about mid-May when I resurface. I'm not going to go into details, but I will still be uploading a video or so each week on auto-drip-feed for the time being.


1) Do not email, tweet, comment asking me anything including 'just' "Are you ok?" - I'm sorry to say it but I'm hellishly busy and I honestly can't reply to that many comments/emails as it is right now - please respect my need for peace right now, as I'm up to my neck in things that need doing, so I want to take a vacation from my channel for a few weeks - I know most people will recognise that this is like Annual Leave from work and that you don't email people when they're on leave from work - but I also know from past experience of saying similar and getting 5 emails in under 24h from the same person, the first beginning "I know you said not to email you but...". I just want to avoid recurrences! 
2) Please don't speculate on or offline re: what's going on - it's no one's business but mine. It's nothing anyone needs to be concerned about, I'm just too busy to do much with my channel right now, in short, so I'm on vacation from it. The reasons don't matter to anyone but me.
3) Please don't send me anything to review/as a gift right now - I'm physically unable to DO anything with my channel right now and I have a queue a mile long of products I need to post reviews of - it's honestly not helping the backlog if people send me more stuff - I do appreciate the gesture but I would rather you gave to charity or something instead - The Albert Kennedy Trust is my pet charity.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Beginning my Daniel Smith watercolour exploration

I've started working my way through the Daniel Smith watercolours from the 238-colour spotcard that I have, after which I will also do the newer colours that are not found in that card. I have decided to cut these reviews down into the following series - you can see the first video over on YouTube already.

Standard Watercolours
I'm working through the basic colours from yellow through red, purple, blue, turquoise, green, neutrals, blacks and whites. I will break these down into a series of videos each covering about 24-36 colours.

PrimaTek Watercolours
These are the paints made from powdered minerals and which have exceptional texture and interesting granulation and depth. I have separated these out of the main series into their own videos, of which these will be 3-4 in total.

Mars Watercolours
These are granulating colours to which, effectively, black has been added or the pigments are ground course. I felt they would be more useful to my audience if separated out, so I will tackle them on their own.

Duochrome Watercolours
Each DuoChrome paint flips between two distinct, separate colours, for example, DuoChrome Saguaro can appear green-gold or copper. I will tackle all of these in one video.

Interference Watercolours
These are wonderful to have in watercolour! Usually we only get interference media in acrylic paints. They only really show up on dark backgrounds and change hue as you change position relative  to them. I will tackle all of these in one video.

Iridescent Watercolours
These paints reflect light and sparkle and shimmer like an opal. I will tackle all of them in one video.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A mini-haul and a surprise gift!

So, whilst it is lovely when my fans send me even just complementary emails let alone anything else, I've never asked for anything and never would, but I've had a series of really nice things sent to me in the last 6 months - mostly items people are keen for me to review - and I've been left a few tips in the tip jar on my website, which all helps to keep and improve my channel of course. I did get a surprise gift this week - a set of Royal and Langnickel scrubbing brushes for removing watercolour - I've no idea  who sent them as very often vendors don't pass that information to the recipient and I would like to be able to say thank you, so if it was you, please let me know! I gave them a really quick try out in this video but will do a proper review in due course. They certainly did the job lifting some Daniel Smith Moonglow that was long-dried onto a cheap scrap of paper, with far less effort that my usual scrubbing  tool (a sawn-off £2 hog bristle flat!) in any case!

This little haul is a couple of items I ordered from Amazon USA a few weeks back, namely:

Daniel Smith Watercolour Ground (Titanium White)
Amazon USA: US$10.92
Amazon Canada: CDN$38.32 CDN$30.84
Amazon UK: £29.68
Dick Blick: US$13.94 US$7.95
Jackson's: £9.99 £8.60

Prima Marketing The Classics Watercolours

Amazon USA: US$25.00 US$17.98
Amazon Canada: CDN$32.65
Amazon UK: £48.60 £17.56

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

How much does size really matter?

No, I don't mean men's willies, I mean size as in sizing on/in watercolour paper!

When paper is manufactured, sizing is added to reduce how much water the paper will absorb. Unsized papers are basically kitchen paper and so on - very absorbent and of course useless for art. Drawing papers are slightly sized ("slack sized") and have a bit of resistance to water, but watercolour papers are much more "hard sized" to make them very resistant. Now, within watercolour papers, we often refer to some as "hard sized" to mean "very hard sized" whereas the weaker sized watercolour papers are still "hard sized" in the context of all types of paper.

When paper is being put together, sizing can be added to the pulp, which results in "internal sizing", or, onto the surface ("surface sizing" - the latter is the much more water repellent form of paper.

In this video, I compared the following - the manufacturers are indicated as follows:
[DR] = Daler and Rowney
[SCM] = St Cuthbert's Mill
[C] = Canson
Chemical Pulp:
Aquafine Hot Press. This is a fairly low-end student-grade paper, which I only use for swatching normally [DR].
Optima This is not a watercolour paper - it's a mixed-media paper that I just added for a bit of a laugh really to see how it performed [DR].
Bockingford Cold Press. This is a very good paper that I use day-to-day [SCM].
Langton Rough. This is again, a decent day-to-day paper [DR].

Cotton Rag:
Langton Prestige Rough. This is a generally good paper that is a very good entry-level-to-cotton-papers paper, for people who are moving up from chemical pulp papers [DR].
Saunders Waterford Cold Press. This is pretty hard-sized and a very high quality paper [SCM].
Arches Cold Press. This is quite hard-sized but ultimately no more so than Saunders Waterford [C].
Millford Cold Press. This is almost an "extreme sized" paper, with a very strong surface sizing. There is nothing else like this  on the market [SCM].

I did my tests using French Ultramarine by Winsor & Newton in one of their large pans - these are VERY economical and well worth having for the colours you use the most:

Amazon USA No stock at the time of writing.
Amazon UK £20.99 £15.10
Amazon Canada No stock at the time of writing.
Jackson's £20.99 £13.64