Sunday 10 December 2017

Product Review: Lutea Watercolours

It was a wonderful surprise to receive an entire pack of the Lutea range (worth almost £300/EUR340/US$400) when I asked to review it, and honestly, they were a pleasure to review, and I've not been able to put them down! I was a little dubious at first - I'd actually bought 3 colours out of curiosity already, but I thought the palette of the whole range might be a little limiting - I actually found out that this is a REALLY versatile palette. Ok sure, there's no true warm red, warm yellow or warm blue, but the net effect of that is that all mixes are lovely and muted and soft and even though very few of the paints share any pigments, they're all "of a type" in hue and colour depth. I can see a lot of use for painting works at sunset or in subdued light, for example, which makes colours mute slightly, or for etherial dreamscapes and fantasy works. 

The Lutea watercolours are made by Anne-Sylvie Godeau in Belgium and they are available from Jackson's in the UK, who have international shipping at good prices. The palette is as follows - I talk in the accompanying video about how the paints are made and what plants they are from, so please consult it for more details. Whilst Lutea takes its name from the Latin feminine adjective lutea, meaning "the colour of saffron" (e.g. one could wear a stola lutea (saffron coloured women's gown) or calceus luteus (saffron coloured shoe) - the adjective changes gender to match what it describes), there is no saffron-derived paint - but you can make a similar hue with the Yellow and the Orange mixed together, of course ;)

Prices are for Jackson's and are for 9mL tubes - I've heard some people talk about these paints as "overpriced" but actually, if you look at the price per 5mL (standard watercolour size), you're looking at £9.50 to £12.78, which is well within the price ranges of Winsor and Newton Series 4 colours as well as Daniel Smith and Qor! Personally, for what they are and the effort required to produce them, and given that they use handmade pigments made in-house by a small company not a giant pigment house, I think the prices are actually really reasonable for a high-quality high-end paint.

Pink - Madder Lake (NR9 Madder Lake) [£19.50]
Red - Madder Lake (NR9 Madder Lake) [£17.10]
Carmine - Cochineal Lake (NR4 Cochineal) [£23.00]
Violet - Logwood Lake (NBk1 Logwood Lake) [£19.50]
Blue - Indigo (NB1 Indigo) [£21.50] [£23.00]
Grey - Strawberry Lake (N/A) [£23.00]
Brown - Walnut Lake (NBr7 Juglone) [£23.00]
Dark Green - Meadowsweet Lake (N/A) [£17.10]
Light Green - Meadowsweet Lake (N/A) + Indigo (NB1 Indigo) [£17.10]
Yellow - Goldenrod Lake (N/A) [£21.50]
Dark Orange - Thyme Lake (N/A) [£19.50]
Orange - Cosmos Lake (N/A) [£21.50]

The lightfastness ratings are all fairly good - relating to 50-100 years of normal display in most of the paints - I mentioned Violet was one of the lower ones in my video but some of the others are also a little low too. That said, for most painters, our work isn't going to be hung for 500 years so why worry? Quite honestly, it's a bit arrogant to assume you're so important that 100 vs 500 years really matters!

Lightfastness ratings of Lutea watercolours as determined by Green'ing International, Loire Les Marais, France. The Blue Wool Scale goes from 1 (poor) to 8 (excellent) but these paints were not tested for levels 7 and 8, hence those rated 6 I have listed here as "greater than or equal to 6" as further tests may show their lightfastness is even higher). I have also included the equivalent ratings on the ATSM Scale, which goes from I (Excellent) to V (Poor), along with how long such ratings correlate to normal display conditions - NOT based on direct summer sunlight, but normal display conditions
PaintBlue Wool ScaleATSMHow long should it last under normal display conditions?
≥ 6
50-100+ years
≥ 6
50-100+ years
≥ 6
50-100+ years
15-50 years
≥ 6
50-100+ years
15-50 years
15-100 years
Dark Green
15-100 years
Light Green
≥ 6
50-100+ years
≥ 6
50-100+ years
Dark Orange
15-100 years
≥ 6
50-100+ years

In this video I mention that these paints are particularly suited to a number of types of painter, and that I would spell out which colours are particularly useful for each group to just get started without needing to buy all the colours:

Landscape artists - Dark Green, Light Green, Blue, Brown, Grey, Yellow, Dark Orange
Seascape artists - Blue, Grey, Dark Orange, Light Green
Botanical artists - Red, Pink, Violet, Carmine, Light Green, Yellow
Portrait artists - Dark Orange, Brown, Grey, Yellow, Pink (and Zinc White Gouache - see below)

Products Used In This Video

In addition to the Lutea paints that I have linked above to purchase, the following other products are used in this video:

I have done a video about these brushes, I love them. I used the 1/2" flat and the 8 round in this video, which you can buy as a set.

Golden Acrylic Medium GAC-100
[£11.60 for 236mL bottle - I show the larger size in this video]
This is what I used to show that you can make acrylic glazes with these paints easily. It's a really useful medium for acrylic painting and one of a range that Golden produces.

This is what I used to show that these paints could be opacified with gouache - you can make awesome flesh tones with Zinc White gouache, Orange from this range and then use the Brown and Grey to add shading and shadow. I like the W&N Gouache a lot - it re-wets easily if you want to dry it down (add a drop of glycerine to each half pan so that it doesn't crack when dry) and it goes a very long way!

Colourworks BRUSHO - Black
[£4.26 for 15g jar]
I used this to add texture and interest to a wash - it's a powdered watercolour that is a lot of fun to use.

Winsor and Newton Gum Arabic 
[£5.60 for 75mL] 
This is really useful for making washes smoother and it makes the colours seem more vibrant. It's the vehicle used in most paint brands - some use Gum Senegal (aka Senegalese Gum Arabic or Kordofan Gum Arabic) instead, and Qor by Golden uses Aquazol, which I've explained previously. If you think about oil painting, adding extra linseed oil (the vehicle of oil paints) into your paints gives you longer drying times, more time to work the paint, a glossy finish and a more vibrant, transparent colour - Gum Arabic added to watercolours does exactly the same thing, and I found it worked beautifully with these watercolours by Jackson's - both the pans and the tubes.

Winsor and Newton Ox Gall  
[£5.60 for 75mL] 
I used Daler and Rowney's ox gall in the video but to be honest, I prefer the W&N one for both quality and price. Ox gall is a combination of bile salts from cattle bile obtained from abattoir waste - deoxycholate and so on - and they act as a surfactant to reduce the surface tension and promote better wetting of the pigment grains - just like soap would do when washing the dishes really. If you paint on some high-end papers such as Arches by Canson or Millford by St Cuthbert's Mill that have really very hard sizing, a touch of ox gall in your water can help to wet the paper without the water beading up - of all watercolour mediums, this and Gum Arabic (below) are the most useful. Ox gall is usually sold as a solution in a bottle which can be a bit inconvenient, but if you would prefer a solid ox gall that you can keep in your palette, you can also get that - I use it en plein air a lot and these Schmincke pans of it last AGES and smell of lavender, which is nice! 
Half-Pan Schmincke Onetz [£3.20]
Full-Pan Schmincke Onetz [£4.80]
If you would prefer a vegan alternative, there is one sold under the Qor brand by Golden [£9.60], which is particularly popular.

[£11.10 for 10" by 14" 12 sheet pad]
This is a great "every day" paper - it's chemical pulp (wood) so not too expensive and it's quite hard wearing - this is the paper I tell all beginners to move to as soon as they can and then once used to it, move on to a cotton paper - but even though I use a 100% cotton paper for actual works, I use Bockingford for day to day use, sketching, studies and warm-ups as well as en plein air work.

The Langton Prestige Cold Press 140lb 100% cotton paper
[£16.80 for 10" by 12" 12 sheet pad]
This is one of the more economical 100% cotton papers and it's good for beginners and every day use - I think it makes for a lovely sketchbook if you bind the paper sheets into a nice binding and give it as a gift or use it for all paintings around one theme. It's quite hard wearing but the sizing is not very hard so lifting isn't always easy - though it's hard-wearing enough to handle a scrubber brush.

Friday 8 December 2017

Christmas 2017 Gifts For Watercolourists

Buying for an artist isn't always easy, and with Christmas 2017 coming up and every shop in the market selling things at amazing discounts, I wanted to pull together some ideas for gifts for watercolour painters - most are items I have reviewed in the past 12 months but others are "old faithful" high quality products. Rather than day-to-day supplies like general paper blocks etc, I've focussed on things someone may not own or even consider so they can get a bit of a surprise with their gifts!

Jackson's Artist Watercolours - Set of 12 full pans
(£47.70 or EUR54.21 or US$63.78)
I've reviewed this set recently and absolutely love it. Normally priced at £53, it is current discounted. You can watch my review of it here.
[not suitable for vegans]

Daniel Smith PrimaTek Watercolours - Set of 6 tubes
(£31.50 or EUR34.66 or US$40.78)
This is a set of 6 paints formulated from finely ground natural minerals - Rhodonite, Amethyst, Jadeite, Piemontite, Hematite and Mayan Blue (a mix of copal, indigo and clay). They're a lot of fun and quite different to most watercolours as they have extreme granulation, for example. The set normally sells for £40.90. You can watch my review of the Primatek colours here.
[not suitable for vegans]

Golden Qor Watercolours - Introductory Set of 12 tubes
(£43.20 or EUR49.09 or US$57.76)
The Qor watercolours from Golden are unusual in that they use an artificial binder in lieu of gum arabic, and have very strong flow. They are particularly popular at the moment, and as well as open stock, a number of sets are available, of which this is probably the most useful as a gift. With an RRP of almost £59.96, this is an excellent price point! You can watch my review of the 24-set that contains all of the colours in this set here.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Japanese Watercolours Set of 12 large pans
(£15.48 or EUR17.60 or US$20.69)
These Eastern watercolours (stickier and more opaque than Western ones - very good on rice paper and for sumi-e) are very popular with card makers and this set of 12 very large pans is a good way to try them out. With an RRP of £20.06.
[not suitable for vegans]

Lutea Extra Fine Watercolours - Individual 9mL Tubes
The Lutea brand are entirely made from flower pigments and are exceptionally beautiful and may be a nice, unusual gift for an experienced watercolourist. The colours that may make the best gifts are as follows as they would make a nice primary triad, plus an unusual deep violet as a bonus feature. All are rated 5-6 on the blue wool scale (1-8, 8 being best) for lightfastness, which is around 3 on the I-IV scale many manufacturers use.
Violet (Logwood, NBk3 and NBk4) £19.50 or EUR22.16 or US$26.06
Red (Madder, NR9) £17.10 or EUR19.45 or US$22.86
Blue (Indigo, NB1) £21.50 or EUR24.44 or US$28.74
Yellow (Goldenrod, N/A) £21.50 or EUR24.44 or US$28.74
[not suitable for vegans]

Schmincke Horadam - Set of 12 half pans
(£58.00 or EUR65.93 or US$77.52)
These are beautiful fine-quality paints from Germany and are amongst the best watercolours in the world. This little palette contains Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Carmine, Cadmium Red Light, Prussian Blue, Finest Ultramarine, Phthalo Green, Permanent Green Olive, Yellow Ochre, English Venetian Red, Sepia Brown and Ivory Black, along with a little travel brush and a swatch card. They have very high pigment loads and are actually good value - they have an RRP of £68.35. You can watch my review of this little palette here.
[not suitable for vegans]

Nevskaya Palitra White Nights - Set of 12 full pans
(£15.60 or EUR17.70 or US$20.80)
White Nights paints are of very fine quality and are perfect for beginners and experienced painters as they are artist-quality but very economical. They are comparable in flow, colour and fine quality to Schmincke in many ways but they are far more economical. This set of 12 full pans has an RRP of £25.95. You can watch my review of some White Nights colours here.
[not suitable for vegans]

Jackson's Kolinsky watercolour brushes - set of 3
(£15.50 or EUR17.68 or US$20.78)
Really best suited to the more advanced painter, or the novice who is wanting to move upwards. Kolinsky is the non plus ultra of natural fibre watercolour brushes, and this set from Jackson's is nicely presented in modern, classy packaging and comprises the following range of sizes which are particularly useful for those painting fine detail such as in botanical paintings:
Round Size 1
Round Size 5
Round Size 7
[not suitable for vegans]

Jackson's Icon sable-synthetic watercolour brushes - set of 3
(£16.50 or EUR18.82 or US$22.12)
Suitable for beginners or advanced painters alike. These brushes blend sable with a pored-synthetic that gives the brushes snap and strength so they're not as delicate/fragile as pure kolinsky or sable can be, so they are better suited to beginners who haven't quite got to grips with brushwork yet. This is a lovely versatile set, with a good sized quill (pointed mop) for washes and loose work, a round for precision and a lovely flat that is SO good for glazing! You can watch my review of this set here.
Round Size 8
Quill Size 2 (aka Pointed Wash)
Flat 1/2" 
[not suitable for vegans]

Jackson's Speciality badger/squirrel watercolour brushes - set of 3
(£16.80 or EUR19.17 or US$22.54)
These brushes might be nice for a very experienced painter as they're the kinds of morphologies that you can get away without but once you have them, they make such a difference! They are specifically designed for painting foliage and in landscape painting but they're also useful for seascapes and in abstract work. The fan and comb are both made from badger hair, which is very stiff and excellent for making tight little marks when used vertically. The dagger is made of squirrel hair, which will paint lovely long lines and hold a long of paint - it's a sign-writing brush sensu stricto, and it's super-useful for painting fences, blades of grass and anything you'd normally use a rigger for - this is even sharper:
Stippler Fan, Medium
Foliage Comb, 1/2"
Dagger, 3/8"
[not suitable for vegans]

Jackson's Raven watercolour quill (pointed mop) - VEGAN FRIENDLY!
(£17.20 or EUR19.58 or US$23.01)
This is a totally vegan brush - the fibre is a synthetic designed to mimic squirrel hair so it will hold a lot of water - it's also a WHOPPING brush at 1.6cm in diameter, and, being a quill (pointed mop), there is no glue, oh, and the 'quill' is plastic. It's a lovely huge brush and would help loosening up and painting in a more expressive style, and is suitable for all levels of painter.
It comes in many sizes, but I'm recommending as a gift:
Quill, Size 6

Saunders Waterford Cold Press 7.5" by 11.0" 25 sheet spiral pad of 140lb
(£17.40 or EUR19.80 or US$23.28)
Saunders Waterford is a beautiful 100% cotton paper that the Royal Watercolour Society has approved. It is internally sized with gelatine and surface sized, so your colours will look vibrant and washes will stay wet for longer. It's a robust paper that you can scrub on with lifting brushes without causing any damage. I've reviewed this paper previously and shown what it's capable of and I recommend this as my personal favourite paper. I personally use the Rough finish in the 300lb weight, but I think the Cold Press finish is better for most artists as Rough isn't for everyone, so that's what I've picked out in this useful spiral bound book that could be used as a journal or for working on paintings all on one specific theme. Perfect for advanced painters as well as novices that have already moved onto cotton papers - I'd not suggest this for someone not yet used to cotton in the context of being a good gift. 

Friday 24 November 2017

Product Review: Jackson's Studio and Icon Watercolour Brush Sets

STOP PRESS (again)! A little notice for my viewers based outside of the United Kingdom in particular! The brushes in this review are all sold by Jackson's, and they have FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING on brush-only orders valued at £20 (US$27, CAN$34, AUS$35, €23) or over! That is a fantastic deal in my book and should mean you get things well in time for Christmas if you're planning to buy gifts! You can read more about their shipping policies, restrictions and information here.

Continuing from my review of Jackson's Artist Watercolours that I posted yesterday, I have also reviewed two sets of Jackson's Watercolour Brushes from two of their brush lines as follows - I've linked to all of the sets and open stock down below the jump in the "Buy These Products" section, and I've also linked to all the other products used in the video - the paints and paper etc.

The Studio line - intended for students, lower price point, cheaper handles, 100% synthetic, vegan-friendly and come in 4 different variety packs and come as Rounds, Flats, Riggers, Pointed Rounds and One-Strokes (Long Flats). They asked me to review their Set Of 3.

The Icon line - professional quality, higher price point, very nicely balanced satin-finish handles, synthetic-sable mix using a pitted synthetic that holds more water than a standard one. Sold as a Set of 3 (which I reviewed), which I guess is designed to give you a feel of the line and to be a useful set of sizes, but are mostly sold as open stock and come as Rounds, Flats, Quills (I would call them Pointed Mops or Pointed Washes, but some folk call them Quills!) and Mottlers.

I was highly impressed with both lines and I've summarised my views a little but down below in the "Buy These Products" section of this post - but you can watch the video to see how they compare with other brands - I compared them with - I've missed out the super-economy craft sable brushes that I tried out:
ProArte Polar White, Aquafine Goat Mops, Aquafine Sable, Winsor and Newton Series 7 Kolinsky, ProArte Prolene, ProArte ProlenePlus, ProArte Renaissance Squirrel and Daler and Rowney Graduate line in various fibres, plus probably some others I can't remember right now, but if you saw something in the video and want to buy it, leave a comment below! 

Bottom line - I felt both were great and that the Studio line was perfect for beginners and was more or less as good as Prolene, but as they don't hold a lot of water compared to Prolene or other brands, and they are very economical, they are really beginner-friendly. I do think a beginner should start with something that they can learn the basics with, without needing to worry about water-control too much just yet. The Icon line was comparable with 100% sable brushes or ProlenePlus brushes and the round and quill came to really sharp points. I could see a use for both lines in my own work and the Studio brushes would be great for me for lifting, for glazing when I want to work quite dry and when I just need a brush I don't need to worry too much about damaging as the cost is so low!

Buy These Products

Jackson's "Studio" Watercolour Brushes
These are excellent student-grade brushes and are perfect for beginners through to novices or just folk who want an extra set of cheaper brushes that they can brutalise without too much worry about replacement costs. They're 100% synthetic and have painted wooden handles with a gloss finish. THESE BRUSHES ARE VEGAN FRIENDLY. In the accompanying video, I reviewed the Set of 3.

Set of 3 - 8 Round, 10 Round, 1/2" Flat [Jackson's: £5.50 or US$7.32]
Set of 4 - 2 Round, 4 Round, 6 Round, 4 Rigger [Jackson's: £3.30 or US$4.39]
Set of 8 - 0 Round, 6 Round, 12 Round, 1 Rigger, 1/2" Flat, 1" Flat, 1 1/2" Flat and a black nylon brush case [Jackson's: £13.25 or US$17.63]
Set of 14 - 000 Round, 2 Round, 4 Round, 6 Round, 10 Round, 16 Round, 24 Round, 0 Rigger, 2 Rigger, 4 Rigger, 1/2" Flat, 1" Flat, 2" Flat and a black nylon brush case [Jackson's: £29.50 or US$39.24]
In open stock you can buy:
Pointed Rounds, One-Strokes (Long Flats) and Riggers, Flats and Rounds, starting at as little as £1.05 (US$1.40).

Jackson's "Icon" Watercolour Brushes
These are excellent professional-grade brushes and are very good value. They are a mix of synthetic and sable - the synthetic has been treated to cover it in microscopic pits so that it holds even more water/paint, and it has very good control and snap. They have handles with a satin finish. THESE BRUSHES ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR VEGANS. In the accompanying video, I reviewed the Set of 3.

Set of 3 - 8 Round, 2 Quill (Pointed Mop), 1/2" Flat [Jackson's: £13.20 or US$17.56]
In open stock you can buy:
Pointed Rounds - Size 2 to 12, starting at £2.28 or US$3.03.
One Strokes (Long Flats) - 3mm to 25mm, starting at £2.72 or US$3.62.
Quills (pointed mops) - Size 0000000000 (10/0) to 6, starting at £3.76 or US$5.00.
Mottlers - 25mm to 75mm, starting at £7.44 or US$9.90.

Other products that I used in this video:

Bockingford 140lb A4 (roughly 12"×8") Rough Watercolour Gummed Paper Pad. 12 sheets. [Jackson's: £8.00 or US$10.65] This is the paper I use in this video, and it's my go-to day-to-day paper. Bockingford is made by St Cuthbert's Mill - the same people who brought us Saunders Waterford and Millford watercolour papers - and it is a chemical pulp (wood) paper that is pretty hard wearing and you can do a lot worse than it - it's a great paper for a beginner wanting to step upwards but who's not ready for cotton papers just yet.

Winsor and Newton French Ultramarine Watercolour Paint - PB29 Ultramarine Blue.
The ceramic Large Pan that I was using in this video is from a line that has been discontinued, but you can buy the exact same paint in a range of sizes - it is one of my favourite Ultramarines - it has a huge pigment load and a pan or tube will last you a very long time.
Half-pan [Jackson's: £5.10 or US$6.79]
Full-pan [Jackson's: £6.40 or US$8.52]
5mL tube [Jackson's: £5.10 or US$6.79]
14mL tube [Jackson's: £10.10 or US$13.44]
37mL tube [Jackson's: £17.80 or US$23.69]

Daniel Smith Moonglow - PB29 Ultramarine Blue, PG17 Hydrated Chromic Oxide, PR177 Anthraquinone Red.
This is a lovely effects-paint that looks violet, grey or black depending on how much you use, but with plenty of water it splits into pink, green and blue to varying degrees. It comes in two tube sizes and as a Paint Stick, which can be used just like a pan or can be used dry on the paper somewhat like a pastel.
5mL [Jackson's: £6.80 or US$9.05]
15mL [Jackson's: £12.80 or US$17.03]
Watercolour Paint Stick [Jackson's: £10.90 or US$14.50]

ProArte Brushes - these are the main brush types that I use for comparison in this video - alongside Dalon, Series 007 and a myriad of cheaper brands - but these are the major ones.
Prolene - these are cheaper on the whole and hold less pigment than ProlenePlus and don't come to as sharp a point in terms of Rounds, but are really useful for wetting one's paper or for washes etcYou know which you have as the ferrule is always silver for Prolene. They come in Rounds, One-Strokes (long flats), Swords, Riggers and Fans. The bristles are soft and flexible, without much snap. You can buy the full Prolene line over at Jackson's, individually or in sets - brushes start at £1.52 for a Size 0000 Round (aka 4/0 Round). THESE BRUSHES ARE VEGAN-FRIENDLY.
ProlenePlus - these are higher quality and hold more pigment than Prolene and come to a sharper point. They also have beautiful faux-teak varnished handles. You know which you have as the ferrule is always gold for ProlenePlus. They come in Rounds, One-Strokes (long flats) and Filberts, including retractable travel brushes. The bristles are firm and have good snap. You can buy the full ProlenePlus line over at Jackson's individually or in sets - brushes start at £1.76 for a Size 0000 Round (aka 4/0 Round). THESE BRUSHES ARE VEGAN-FRIENDLY.
Renaissance Squirrel - these are 100% black squirrel hair and are thus not vegan-friendly! They reach a very sharp point and hold a lot of paint or water on the belly, so you can get a lot of mileage before you need to re-load. You can buy sizes 000 (aka 3/0) to 8 from Jackson's but the line does go up to a size 20. Brushes start at £5.04 for a Size 000 (3/0).

Thursday 23 November 2017

Product Review: Jackson's Artist Watercolour full pans and tubes

STOP PRESS! I should add that Jackson's could well have a Black Friday sale of some kind this very week - well, I'm assuming so, since most companies seem to have one, anyway, so I've front loaded this post with all of the procurement info so that you don't need to dig! These paints would make an amazing Christmas gift so don't forget to shop whilst the Black Friday sales are still on! You can buy the palette with 12 full-pans (£45.05) and/or pick up individual pans to use alone or with the palette. I do recommend adding a full pan of Phthalocyanine Blue as a better cool blue that the more mid-tone Cobalt Blue, and if you're anything like me, you'll want to get a Burnt Sienna whilst you're at it!

If you want to give this set to someone under 16 or so, or who is pregnant or breastfeeding, or you're just not confident painting with heavy-metal containing paints and want some options, I would recommend you just buy 3 extra paints as non-toxic alternatives:

Swap Cadmium Yellow Light for Jackson's Yellow Light (£2.81 - PY154 Benzimidazolone Yellow 154)
Swap Cadmium Red Light for Bright Red (£2.98 - PR254 Pyrrole Red and PO43 Perinone Orange)
Swap Cobalt Blue for Phthalocyanine Blue (£2.81 - PB15 Phthalocyanine Blue)

See the end of this post for sundries like Ox Gall pans you can add to your palette to give you stronger flow exactly where and when you need it!

This is an amazing set, but if you want to make it even better, you can add a few colours for not much money at all. In the video, I suggested some extra colours you might want to add - there is space for 2 more, but you can probably remove the black and fit 3 full pans or 6 half pans (you would have to pour the latter from tubes) in, and I would suggest adding:

Burnt Sienna Pan £2.81 Tube £4.85 (PBk7 Brown Iron Oxide)
Phthalocyanine Blue Pan £2.81  Tube £4.85 (PB15 Phthalocyanine Blue)
Cobalt Violet Deep Hue Pan £2.98 Tube £5.53  (PR122 Quinacridone Red PV16 Manganese Violet)

It's not very often that I'm genuinely bowled over by the quality of a product, but today is one of those days! A few weeks back I contacted Jackson's in the UK to see if they would let me review their Artist Watercolours. I explained that I really like to review a Cool Red, Warm Red, Cool Yellow, Warm Yellow, Cool Blue, Warm Blue, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna, as those 8 colours are what I think all beginners should start out with, and I like to be able to recommend paints to beginners, of course.

Julie at Jackson's very kindly sent me one of their 12-full-pan palettes, and she noted it had a Venetian Red instead of my preferred Burnt Sienna, so she also sent me a 21mL tube of Burnt Sienna so I could see the colour and try out their tube paints at the same time - great plan. I have also been sent 3 types of brush but they will follow in later videos.

The palette contains full pans of:

Lemon Yellow (PY3 Hansa Yellow 10G)
Cadmium Yellow Light (PY35 Cadmium zinc sulfide)
Carmine (PV19 Quinacridone Violet)
Cadmium Red Light (PR108 Cadmium selenosulfide)
Cobalt Blue (PB28 Cobalt aluminium blue spinel)
French Ultramarine (PB29 Ultramarine Blue)
Phthalo Green Deep (PG7 Phthalocyanine Green BS + PB15 Phthalocyanine Blue)
Permanent Sap Green (PB29 Ultramarine Blue + PY153 Nickel Dioxime Yellow)
Yellow Ochre (PY43 Yellow Iron Oxide [Natural])
Venetian Red (PR101 Red Iron Oxide [Synthetic] + PY43 Yellow Iron Oxide [Natural])
Burnt Umber (PBr7 Brown Iron Oxide)
Ivory Black (PBk9 Bone Black)

And they also gave me a 21-mL tube of:
Burnt Sienna (PBr7 Brown Iron Oxide)

The price point for the palette set of 12 full-pans complete with a really high-quality metal palette (with mixing surfaces that don't make your paint bead up too much!) AND a tree planted in the Highlands of Scotland by Trees For Life is £53.00 [US$70.61] but they have been reduced to £45.05 [US$60.00] recently. Now given those palettes are £12 or so on Amazon UK, you're looking at a price per full-pan of somewhere around £3.40 [US$4.53] at full price or £2.75 [US$3.66] at the discounted price - pretty hard to beat for a professional watercolour, right?! Not many companies make a charitable donation on a purchase, and I really admire Jackson's for taking the lead with that.

Most "own brand" paints are not that great - very generic, very chalky or gloopy and not fun at all. Jackson's Artist Watercolours are the polar opposite - to look at, they resemble the extruded pans of Winsor and Newton, but in use they lift as easily from the pan as Schmincke and have very similar levels of flow as Schmincke Horadam and Daniel Smith - you can see for yourself in my YouTube review video, where I go into a lot of detail about them.

If you're interested in the adjunct products I used in this video, they are:

Daler and Rowney The Langton Watercolour Paper 140lb Rough Spiral Bound Pad. [Jackson's: £7.60] This is a good quality chemical pulp paper - I use it for videos and for warm-ups and sketches - it's well made and a good option particularly for beginners who want to experience a professional paper. If you prefer a cotton paper, Daler and Rowney sell that too, and it really is a very nice paper and quite economical.
Daler and Rowney The Langton Prestige Watercolour Paper 140lb Rough Spiral Bound Pad. [Jackson's: £9.60]

ProArte 12 Round Prolene Plus Watercolour Brush [Jackson's: £8.16] Prolene Plus is my favourite synthetic brush fibre that I have found. It is based on Prolene, a form of polypropylene used worldwide as a surgical suturing thread, with a mix of different fibre thicknesses and so on to make these brushes superior to the standard Prolene line also by ProArte - they are very economical and I could not recommend them more strongly if you want a good synthetic brush. They're also very pretty, which is never a bad thing, right?! You can view the full range here.

Winsor and Newton Ox Gall 75mL [Jackson's: £5.60] I used Daler and Rowney in the video but to be honest, I prefer the W&N one for both quality and price. Ox gall is a combination of bile salts from cattle bile obtained from abattoir waste - deoxycholate and so on - and they act as a surfactant to reduce the surface tension and promote better wetting of the pigment grains - just like soap would do when washing the dishes really. If you paint on some high-end papers such as Arches by Canson or Millford by St Cuthbert's Mill that have really very hard sizing, a touch of ox gall in your water can help to wet the paper without the water beading up - of all watercolour mediums, this and Gum Arabic (below) are the most useful. Ox gall is usually sold as a solution in a bottle which can be a bit inconvenient, but if you would prefer a solid ox gall that you can keep in your palette, you can also get that - I use it en plein air a lot and these Schmincke pans of it last AGES and smell of lavender, which is nice! 
Half-Pan Schmincke Onetz [Jackson's: £3.20]
Full-Pan Schmincke Onetz [Jackson's: £4.80]
If you would prefer a vegan alternative, there is one sold under the Qor brand by Golden [Jackson's: £9.60], which is particularly popular.

Winsor and Newton Gum Arabic 75mL [Jackson's: £5.60] This is really useful for making washes smoother and it makes the colours seem more vibrant. It's the vehicle used in most paint brands - some use Gum Senegal (aka Senegalese Gum Arabic or Kordofan Gum Arabic) instead, and Qor by Golden uses Aquazol, which I've explained previously. If you think about oil painting, adding extra linseed oil (the vehicle of oil paints) into your paints gives you longer drying times, more time to work the paint, a glossy finish and a more vibrant, transparent colour - Gum Arabic added to watercolours does exactly the same thing, and I found it worked beautifully with these watercolours by Jackson's - both the pans and the tubes.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Product Review: Nevskaya Palitra's "White Nights" watercolours - full pans

I seem to be totally behind the rest of the world re: the White Nights line from Nevskaya Palitra ("the Neva palette", named for the Neva River which flows through St Petersburg, where they are based). A lot of you already love their paints and I've seen a lot of folk use them but I'd kind of never really thought they'd be very good quality. BOY WAS I WRONG! A little while ago, I saw that Jackson's in the UK sold them SUPERCHEAP and that tempted me to try them. 

Let me just give you a bit of an idea of how very economical they are:
For comparison - here are the RRPs of some major brands in full-pans of professional quality paint based on PR122 Quinacridone Red or PV19 Quinacridone Violet - both are similar in cost as raw pigments. Those indicated with "*" don't sell full pans, so I've doubled the price of a half-pan to give an approximation.

Winsor and Newton - Quinacridone Magenta [PR122] £9.25 [US$12.24]
Jackson's - Quinacridone Purple [PR122] £4.00 [US$5.29]
*Maimeriblu - Rose Lake [PV19] £16.54 [US$21.90]
*Old Holland - Magenta [PR122] £18.22 [US$24.12]
*Rembrandt - Quinacridone Rose [PV19] £12.10 [US$16.02]
Schmincke - Ruby Red [PV19] £9.79 [US$12.96]
Wallace-Seymour - Quinacridone Magenta [PV19] £7.55 [US$10.00]
White Nights - Quinacridone Rose [PR122] £2.55 [US$ 3.38]

See? Economical huh? Well, it gets better - Jackson's retail White Nights fullpans starting at just £1.70 [US$2.25] which is amazing value. I was fully prepared for something really chalky and low quality but to be honest, I was amazed. The quality is a lot like Schmincke but with a slightly more sticky texture in the pans, like Wallace-Seymour, as they are made with honey. Most of the White Nights line are single-pigment colours, and they are made with honey and Gum Arabic, just like the more expensive brands.

When selecting my colours, I went for a cool triad that was actually so cool it was technically in the CMY universe, which means beautiful bright and vivid mixes but a narrow gamut - this will make for challenges of the fun kind later. I also picked 2 random colours:

Lemon (PY3 Hansa Yellow G)
Rose (PR81 Rhodamine 6G)
Bright Blue (PB15:3 Phthalocyanine Blue BGS)
Blue Lake (PB1 Victoria Blue)
Voronezhskaya Black (PBk8 Vine Black)

I love them all very much and you can see my experiences over on my YouTube channel:

If you want to buy these paints, I highly recommend Jackson's as they have international shipping and the very low prices will probably mean the shipping breaks even.