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.

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