favourite watercolour brand

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favourite watercolour brand

Postby button » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:04 pm

Hi guys,
I have searched the whole forum but couldn't find this exact topic yet, so here it is :) Which brand of watercolours do you prefer and why?

I have Schmincke and Winsor&Newton (both student grade so I don't get anxious to "waste them"), but I'm always interested in knowing what else is out there. I have found that my sketches are always a bit pale, but don't know if it's the paint's fault or just me not using enough pigment for the colours to get vibrant. I'd love to get them to look like this: http://dannygregory.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/aegnfku0lacprfzdpiptyq7_wl85schbkx1i1efgz702c8f2loazk7guhy8meixi1trae2slm2c7h86pksp4ydeq2caaxklpf0q3axgyhpbc7wndzbepww4wvba3twtrudcim2cnpoixae2fqjtd2xnucxl0r0suq4rjknlnzim6gjwvhq2cg.jpeg

I might need to start spraying a bit of water on the pans before starting to paint, as I heard it makes them more vibrant and easier to lift.
- Tanja

(look inside my sketchbooks:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/button_bird/sets)

“Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.”
- Irwin Greenberg
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby mdmattin » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:25 am

It does help to spritz them a bit. Do that and wait a few minutes for the water to sink in. Some paints will always rewet better than others, so you'll have to get a feel for your particular palette.
I would also suggest springing for a least a couple of artist grade paints for the more intense colors like cadmium red or yellow. These are the pigments that get diluted in the student paints, precisely because they are expensive. Going from a Cotman cad red to an Artist's is like going from Kansas to the land of Oz.
I use a variety of brands, mostly W&N, DaVinci and Schminke. The DaVinci's are generally good and not too expensive. I've also tried the M Graham line, which are made with honey and are very juicy as a result.
Matthew
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby Andre Jute » Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:23 am

button wrote:Hi guys,
I have Schmincke and Winsor&Newton (both student grade so I don't get anxious to "waste them"), but I'm always interested in knowing what else is out there. I have found that my sketches are always a bit pale, but don't know if it's the paint's fault or just me not using enough pigment for the colours to get vibrant. I'd love to get them to look like this: http://dannygregory.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/aegnfku0lacprfzdpiptyq7_wl85schbkx1i1efgz702c8f2loazk7guhy8meixi1trae2slm2c7h86pksp4ydeq2caaxklpf0q3axgyhpbc7wndzbepww4wvba3twtrudcim2cnpoixae2fqjtd2xnucxl0r0suq4rjknlnzim6gjwvhq2cg.jpeg


I went to look and was about to demand, "Whatever do you think is wrong with it?" when I realized it is someone's work you're holding up as an example to yourself. I also glanced at your site, and the third or fourth piccie I saw told me something that may be useful to you.

You hear all the time that good tools won't make a good artist, like street corner gossip turned into a mantra. It's true, if you have no talent whatsoever, good tools won't help you make better art. It's nonetheless a silly thing to say. Bad tools can obscure such talent as you have, so good tools are nothing less than essential, and more so for the less accomplished artist. I saw your sketch of your water brush, a Pentel Aquash. It's very likely the culprit here. I bought one the other day because the saleswoman at Green & Stone in Chelsea when I ordered a W&N Bijou Box said they had them on sale. The thing bleeds water like it's giving big at the Red Cross. It dilutes your paints. I noticed that everything I painted was paler than when I used my favourite waterbrush, the cheap Royal & Langnickle AquaFlow or the Koi. Put the Pentel aside, try another water brush, see if you don't get better control with it.

Also, though I have no experience, having never used them, student watercolours are loaded with fillers, and these chalky additives would perhaps give your result a sort of a whitish cast. Whether it is as serious as having too much water out of the brush remains to be determined. I don't know that it is necessary to go as far as switching to real cadmiums, as has been suggested, because for me the glory of watercolours is the transparency, which the cadmiums just lose, and sometimes interfere with for the other colors. The problem with saying anything hard and fast here is the Cotman student colours are reputed on the net, said by no less a luminary than Bruce McEvoy, to be better than the artist grades of some other makers... However that may be, you can buy a set of Winsor & Newton's Artist Grade watercolour cheaply right now, because W&N is changing their packaging and dealers are selling off old stock. Here's a set of Artist's watercolours, which works well for field sketchers because the presence of the water bottle leaves open the opportunity of going back to plain brushes, reduced to the price of the Cotman sets: http://www.artistmaterial.co.uk/product ... FF%29.html
Image
I have this set (though I should have waited until it was on this fire-sale!) and it's a fabulous box and the watercolors are excellent. W&N tubes are also on sale at many net dealers currently.

Let us know which water brush solves your problem, and if the artist grade of water colours is less whitish/more intense than what you currently use.

You might also look at the way you handle the watercolors. When I was a portrait painter in oils, I would work straight out of the tube with a painting knife; some days I wouldn't even pick up a brush. So I started working with watercolors with what I knew already and never used the mixing space (indeed, the homemade bronze painting box in my kit for the last year didn't even have a mixing space), using the paints straight out of the half pans, mixing them on the page. I was actually having problems getting pale colors, exactly the opposite of your problem, because the colour on the pages loaded up so fast, and in the phtalos stained so fast before I could blot them. Even so, I haven't yet emptied even one of the half pans, so there is no question of "wasting paint".

***

As an aside, just trivia really, watercolours are so expensive, painting with good pigments is as much luxury today as it ever was. You'd think the huge numbers of hobby painters, and the efforts of the industrial paint manufacturers (a lot of watercolour pigments, for instantance the quinacridones, owe their efflorescence to the automobile industry), would reduce the cost, but that hasn't happened to any great extent. So, if painting is a luxury, like wearing a minute repeater watch, you may as well have the best, and not worry about how much of it you consume! It's certainly a more economical hobby than drinking, or automobiling or even buying books.
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby button » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:58 am

So guys, this is exactly why I love this website so much - I have a question and within a few hours I get more helpful advice than I could have gained anywhere else in days. You are awesome.

@Matthew: I have two artist grade pans in my Schmincke kit right now, a dark red and a really stunning turquoise, and I totally agree with you there that at least with the turquoise it does indeed make a difference. I need only think of using the turquoise and it's already spreading its vibrance all over my palette. But I have also heard that this effect is very inconsistent with Schmincke colours (the artist grade ones), as in, some have that extreme satiation and others just don't, so the turquoise might be on the extreme side there. What I plan to do is using up the student grade colours I have now and see it as practice, and then re-fill the pans with artist grade tube colours. I read that this is the most economic way to switch from student to artist grade, because you get several refills out from a tube where you only get one pan for about the same price. Bonus: self-filled pans always look so cool! :lol:

@Andre: wow, thank you so much for taking the time to type such a long reply! When I read what you said about the Pentel waterbrushes, I instantly realized how much paler all sketches look that I coloured with these. So they are leaking water, that's explaining a LOT. I'll try out a different brand and see what it does for my on-the-go sketching.
I too have heard a lot of good things about the Cotmans, but since I almost exclusively used them with the Pentel waterbrushes en route, I might have not yet realized what miracles actually lie in that little box... a shame! I'll give them a try with standard brushes today, as now I'm really eager to see what they can do when not diluted unnecessarily. That price drop of the little field box you posted is spectacular, I'll see if the shop will ship that little treasure to my country :D


Apart from that, it might very well be that my squeamishness in using my colours may have been the major part of the problem. I sat down rather late at night yesterday and tried to colour a loose sketch with more vibrancy simply by actually daring to USE the paint, and voilá! Much much better results:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/button_bird/10464416053/sizes/o/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/button_bird/10464232615/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Especially the first one with the dark sofa turned out much as hoped, simply by being a little more courageous. Those are the Schmincke colours, but with them I already assumed it was my fault because they are said to be one of the absolute best, even in student grade. Sometimes I really am my own worst enemy :?
- Tanja

(look inside my sketchbooks:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/button_bird/sets)

“Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.”
- Irwin Greenberg
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby Andre Jute » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:49 am

That's a good strong line you have there, and your colours are looking good too now that you're not longer economizing on them!
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby button » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:33 pm

Thank you Andre :D I hope I can post some good new results in the gallery soon. Now that this problem is solved, I feel a complete new enthusiasm!
- Tanja

(look inside my sketchbooks:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/button_bird/sets)

“Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.”
- Irwin Greenberg
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby Studio-1-f » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:57 pm

My absolute favorite are Schmincke pan watercolors. The pigment load and the vibrancy is so marked that it's almost like using gouache. I have a whole palette of them which I use almost daily. Excellent quality. I very much recommend them.

Daniel Smith has a few fun and unique tube colors that I like and use often.

Jan
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby johunter » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:47 pm

Resurrecting an old thread here to mention my favourite new watercolour palette by St. Petersburg brand "White Nights". I picked these up because I was getting a little tired of my Sakura Koi pans and wanted to try something new. I'm not sure how widely available these are but they are extremely affordable in the UK. I paid about £13 for a 12 pan palette and bought some new pans to fill it (£1.50 - £2 a whole pan). I was a bit skeptical as to how good these would be even though they are labeled as "Fine Artist" but a lot of Russian artists on instagram seem to prefer these. They use a lot of good quality single pigments and I am surprised by how intense these colours are. My swatches were made with a moist brush across new dry pans. I've never used anything semi-moist but these pick up colour like nothing else. Definitely worth at least a try.
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby mdmattin » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:10 pm

I hadn't heard of this brand before, so I did a little searching. The company is reviewed on Bruce McEvoy's Handprint, which is my first stop for all watercolor questions. The author has several concerns, the most serious of which is the lightfastness of some of their pigments:
http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/pigmt2.html#whitenights

However, the review is from 2003, so it was possible that the formulations had changed. I found a listing of White Night pigment numbers here:
https://www2.securesiteserver.co.uk/stp ... ategory=30

McEvoy referenced Scarlet as using fugitive pigments. The Scarlet listing includes PR2.

PR2 shows up on the list of suspect pigments below as "PR2 Napthol Red FRR ASTM rating of V"

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=319360

Professional paints usually have ASTM ratings of I or II. V is not acceptable if you are at all concerned about preserving your work (which you may not be).

I didn't check any more pigments (lunch hour is over) but that one is probably representative of a wider problem.
Matthew
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby johunter » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:30 pm

Thanks for that Matthew, I did double check (most) of the pigments that of the colours I chose and didn't find any fugitive ones though I reckon it probably varies. For example the Quinacridone Rose in my set is PR122 which is the same pigment in some of the larger makes (W&N Quinacridone Magenta, Schminke Purple Magenta) and Cobalt PB28 are both rated very highly in terms of lightfastness (overall, it varies). Like you said I'm not the most concerned about lightfastness just yet (these are mostly watercolour practice/sketches) but I made sure to try and buy as many colours rated highly for lightfastness. I guess what made me look at them in the first place was seeing a number of professional artists that use them in Russia. Whether they are using them for their commercial work vs sketchbook stuff I can't say for sure. Maybe they've improved their formula over the years.
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby Alitogata » Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:58 pm

The thing with this watercolors is that the company that produces them is a small one and has ( or had in the past) some kind of problem with its pigments' supplies. So some colors were fine and well pigmented and some others were not that good (this is the reason why you can find very contradictory reviews online).
But in general it produces very good watercolors and on a very competitive price. And by the time that you took care not to buy the colors that have fugitive pigments ( the "classic" pinks and purples and a couple of yellows that are the fugitive and fade in all brands) you will not have problem.
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Re: favourite watercolour brand

Postby Alitogata » Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:21 pm

mdmattin wrote:I hadn't heard of this brand before, so I did a little searching. The company is reviewed on Bruce McEvoy's Handprint, which is my first stop for all watercolor questions. The author has several concerns, the most serious of which is the lightfastness of some of their pigments:
http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/pigmt2.html#whitenights

However, the review is from 2003, so it was possible that the formulations had changed. I found a listing of White Night pigment numbers here:
https://www2.securesiteserver.co.uk/stp ... ategory=30

McEvoy referenced Scarlet as using fugitive pigments. The Scarlet listing includes PR2.

PR2 shows up on the list of suspect pigments below as "PR2 Napthol Red FRR ASTM rating of V"

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=319360

Professional paints usually have ASTM ratings of I or II. V is not acceptable if you are at all concerned about preserving your work (which you may not be).

I didn't check any more pigments (lunch hour is over) but that one is probably representative of a wider problem.
Matthew


Handprint is very informative but as you said Matthew is not up to date. Many companies changed their ranges and new companies got in the market with synthetic colors that are brilliant and lightfast.
Regarding the lighfastness tests thread on wetcanvas, if you read it you'll see that there are specific pigments that are fugitive no matter which brand uses them. To tell you the truth I don't know and I can't understand why companies keep on producing them and artists buying colors that have such pigments. ( I don't accept that it were used in the past.. they were used in the past because there were no alternatives).

Not to mention here that nobody is going to hang a framed painting on his or her southern window facing direct sun light and so the way that they do these tests is not valid. I wrote to them that if I ever bother to make a similar lightfastness test in my southern looking window under the Greek sun, there would be no brand or pigment that will withstand this test, because the light is so intense that whitens even concrete.

Watercolors have very specific way to be treated. When you sell a watercolor painting you have to warn to your client. When you store a watercolor painting, you have to store it away of direct sun light. Period..
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