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?
Pink
≥ 6
II
50-100+ years
Red
≥ 6
II
50-100+ years
Carmine
≥ 6
II
50-100+ years
Violet
4-5
III
15-50 years
Blue
≥ 6
II
50-100+ years
Grey
5
III
15-50 years
Brown
5-6
II-III
15-100 years
Dark Green
5-6
II-III
15-100 years
Light Green
≥ 6
II
50-100+ years
Yellow
≥ 6
II
50-100+ years
Dark Orange
5-6
II-III
15-100 years
Orange
≥ 6
II
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:

[£16.50]
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.

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