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. 

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