Sunday 5 March 2017

Wallace-Seymour Vintage Watercolours

I finally completed the set of 4 different Wallace-Seymour watercolour lines and shot video reviews of all of them, which, as a reminder are:

ARTIST'S - sold only as full-pans from Turners of Manchester and aimed at general artists. They are high-quality paints with lift-off similar to brands like Schmincke. There are a wide range of colours, they are economical and some are made with unusual pigments but most are fairly mainstream. Vehicle is honey and gum senegal.

EARLY - sold only as half-pans by L. Cornelissen & Son and aimed at more experienced artists who are interested in early watercolour. They are very high quality paints but not like modern watercolour and need hot water to lift the pigments. They are a small range of under 20 colours, all of which are very traditional. Vehicle is gum tragacanth, gum senegal and honey.

18th CENTURY - sold only as sets of rounds by Turners of Manchester and again, aimed at more of a niche market. They are entirely made with 18th century pigments and even the more mainstream ones like Yellow Ochre are specially sourced natural pigments. There is an expanding range but only come as sets. Again, they don't resemble modern watercolour and need hot water to use. Vehicle is gum senegal, gum tragacanth and honey.

VINTAGE - sold only as 20mL tubes by Turners of Manchester and aimed at a more general market and those who want to make big washes with some more unusual pigments. Traditional, modern and more unusual pigments are used. They are sold individually. I don't know the composition of the vehicle but gum senegal and honey is fairly likely.

I have posted breakdowns of the pigments used in the 18th Century, Early and Vintage lines over on my Downloads Page.

The single most exciting thing about the Vintage line is the range of very rare pigments used. When deciding what paints to trial, I decided that because I had tried a warm triad (Ultramarine Blue Deep, Cadmium Yellow Mid and Cadmium Red Mid), I should try a cool triad, so I opted for Cadmium Yellow Lemon (PY35), Manganese Blue Genuine (PB33) and Rosa Magenta (PV19). A cadmium-based cool yellow and a quinacridone violet cool red are pretty bog-standard but Manganese Blue Genuine is VERY special because not only is it a beautiful, heavily-granulating cool blue, it's also not been manufactured in YEARS, and Wallace-Seymour use pigment made over 30 years ago to produce this paint. 

I wanted another triad and I spotted they had a Naples Yellow Deep Genuine (PY41), Indigo Genuine (NB1) and Sepia Genuine (NBr9) - these 3 paints in genuine form - Naples Yellows are normally made with PBr24 Chrome Antimony Titanate Buff Rutile, with varying amounts of white - but the real NY41 Lead Antimonate Yellow Pyrochlore is seldom used now owing to the toxicity of lead and antimony. True indigo is expensive (it's made from fermented plant material, which is not cheap and a bad crop can make it REALLY expensive in any given year) and true sepia is an animal product (but a byproduct of the food industry, much like cuttlebones are - and you can buy cuttlefish ink for food use, as well as cuttlefish, should you wish - I personally find it very tasty but if you overcook it, it turns into rubber - and don't worry about how much it smells raw, it's fine once cooked!) - so you won't see either in paints very often.

As you'll see in the video (below), the generous 20mL tubes are hand-filled and did find 3/6 of the paints had separated a lot from a watery vehicle, which I poured off and saved. I now think this was just excess water as the paint underneath is totally fine and not at all unusual in consistency. As is often the case, I would bet these paints have hung around in the shop/store room at Turners in the same position for a long while, so just shaking them and massaging them a bit will be enough to resolve this issue within a few days.

The colours are amazing and the yellow, red and blue are almost a CMY(K) triad - though the yellow is not close enough to a Process Yellow for this to really work, if you do mix them, you get something similar to a CMY triad - incidentally, if you do ever fancy painting the CMY universe in watercolour, I would recommend you use Cerulean Blue (PB35), Quinacridone Magenta (PR202) and Cobalt Yellow (PY40) - though you could equally use Diarylide Yellow FGL (PY97), Quinacridone Red (PR122) and Cobalt Blue (PB28).

Manganese Blue is so pretty that I will do a Colour Chemistry episode focusing on this colour, but if you like it, get it while you can: Wallace-Seymour are using up vintage stocks to manufacture this and once it's gone, it's gone - I'm going to stockpile whilst I can!

If you want to buy these paints...
...then you need to visit Turners Art Materials (who WILL ship outside of the UK but you will need to contact them by EMAIL and NOT place an order on the website - if you run into issues, you can tell them that The Spin Doctor had confirmation from them on Twitter 21st February 2017 - if need be, you can show them their own tweet which I've linked.


  1. Thanks for his. I read of the Wallace Seymour line and went to Turner’s but when I tried to check out they said they don’t ship to my country (U.S.) For over 200 BPS for an order I hope they make an exception as I have found no supplier in the U.S. and my regular UK one (Jackson’s) doesn’t carry the whole pans. I’ll contact them via e-mail with my order and hope we can figure out a way for me to pay and then to ship. Thanks again.

    1. A lot of shops across Europe have stopped shipping to the USA because of customs rejecting things even though the paperwork was all completed correctly - that could be why - I saw a Swedish shop the other day had a notice to say they would not ship to the USA for that reason, and I think it's getting more of a problem.

      Wallace-Seymour are only sold by Turners in the UK - there are no other retailers. There are shops in the USA that have (past tense) stocked them but none at present though I am aware of one in Australia from Jane Blundell's website - they may be able to ship to you.


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