Please use this discussion to ask or discuss watercolors and watercolor pencils only. What brands do you like best? Beginners what are your questions regarding watercolors and watercolor pencils?
Welcome and hope you find this forum helpful in your watercolors and watercolor pencil endeavors.

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I primarily use Winsor Newton/Cotman watercolors in the studio. However friends have passed on or supplied me with Reeves and Sargent which I will use for quick sketches or in a travel kit. For whites I will use Grumbacher's white gouache or permanent white gouache. I will extract the colors from the tubes and set them up in pans or half pans.

When I am stepping back to the18th century, I have three small glasses and only use the primary colors, I will mix them on the painting or a separate sheet.   Below is a sketch done on a recent re-enactment

What is the difference in Cotman and Windsor/newton?

There is no difference the label reads Winsor Newton Cotman Watercolors

Hi Ed, I ask because I bought a travel set of Cotman, and I love it, but when I went to expand with colors, I found differences in price. So...when you replied, I went online. To condense all I read, the difference is in longevity, fillers, vibrancy. Because of the filler issue, I will not be able to glaze like I do. Some of the cotmans just will not retain their clarity. I do love Cotman, so I think I will just buy Windsor Newton where needed. Cotman is more suited to my budget. Thank you for taking the time to answer.....judy

Hello Thank you for this wonderful group. I am wondering if there is a cheap option for a pallete box for watercolours that is pocket size or does anyone have any ideas on making one.  I thought about getting a pocket size plastic box and inserting the pans.  Any ideas are welcome. Thank you.

I have a Sketcher's Pocket Box Set by Cottman, it holds 12 half pans and a small brush.  I've had this for several years and when I used up the half pans I would fill it from a tube of the Winsor Newton watercolor. I carry this in my back pack when traveling. The current price through Blick's is about $19.00.

Hi Ed, thank you. That sounds like a good idea.  I had thought of making one, but too much trouble.  I think I'll take your suggestion and find a small cotman.  I'm travelling at the moment and the one I use is a Van Gogh 18 pan, too big to handle when outside working.  

I have done some research on the differences in watercolor brands and quality.  Here are some things I have found:

  • Winsor and Newton's Cotman is a less expensive so-called "Academic" quality.  I have some and it works great.  However there are drawbacks.  I believe the quality of the pigments used are not quite as good.  From a glance at the tubes, there is no mention of fillers.  So, I imagine that it is the pigment quality.
  • As above, most brands have an "Academic" quality and an "Artist's" quality.  (I thought we were all artists, but go figure).  The Artists quality have brighter colors and the pigments are less opaque, therefore glazing goes a bit better and when you need a color the stand out and smack you in the kisser, use the Artist's quality.
  • My budget is very low, so I buy fewer colors and mix whatever else I need.  I like the ideas of Stephen Quiller and his "Quiller Wheel".  Read his book, I got my in the library.  Don't follow his ideas slavishly, but think about mixing instead of buying convenience colors.  (Quiller, Stephen, Painters Guide to Color, 1999).  Make a color copy of his Quiller Wheel or buy the book, it comes with it.
  • If you are a true "Watercolorist", you are not supposed to use "Opaque" (horrors, the very word makes me blush).  I use Opaque Watercolor all the time for small finishing touches.  I also use hard pastel, charcoal, and a pocket knife to add details.  I am sure there is a special place down below for folks like me, but I will end up there for other reasons as well.
  • I have seen Grumbacher has an Artist's quality out.  I have been told that this is formulated the same way they did years ago.  I used Grumbacher in the 1960's in my first art class (I was 12).  I used to buy Grumbacher in the local Sherwin Williams store (yes, no kidding). 
  • I have heard raves about Rembrandt as well and the prices seem to be a bit more reasonable than others. 
  • I am not picking on Winsor and Newton.  They make great products and their prices are pretty good.

Just some thoughts.

Dave Capuano

Brunswick, Maine, USA

Thank you Dave for you generous advice.  I 'm not familiar with Grumbacher, so will check it out.

 Thank you Dave,

I have used Grumbacher in the past. I have also used some of the higher end manufacturer's in the past also.  I even used Dr. Martin's Dyes but have always enjoyed the way the Winsor Newton colors work. That doesn't mean that I will stop trying other brands, I will always look at different pigments and brands. However for a modest budget, I thing the Winsor Newton/Cottman watercolors are the best buy. At the same time we also need to consider, what paper is being used? The photo above is a journal with smooth cold press paper. When in the studio I use a Strathmore watercolor block.

I use Strathmore paper as well.  Also, I started looking at Grumbacher because of the nostalgia factor.  However, Grumbacher the company I knew and loved back in the day, is no more.  This company has been bought and sold a few times.  For all I know, they may decide to start making washing machines in a couple of years.

I have start looking a Maimeri blu.  Their prices a pretty good for most colors, but I have no experience with them.  Has anyone else used them?

Ed Kane said:

 Thank you Dave,

I have used Grumbacher in the past. I have also used some of the higher end manufacturer's in the past also.  I even used Dr. Martin's Dyes but have always enjoyed the way the Winsor Newton colors work. That doesn't mean that I will stop trying other brands, I will always look at different pigments and brands. However for a modest budget, I thing the Winsor Newton/Cottman watercolors are the best buy. At the same time we also need to consider, what paper is being used? The photo above is a journal with smooth cold press paper. When in the studio I use a Strathmore watercolor block.

Dave, in your research, have you come across a medium that can be applied to a dry painting, or added to the actual color on your palette, that will give a student grade paint the light fastness of artist grade?


 
David Capuano said:

I have done some research on the differences in watercolor brands and quality.  Here are some things I have found:

  • Winsor and Newton's Cotman is a less expensive so-called "Academic" quality.  I have some and it works great.  However there are drawbacks.  I believe the quality of the pigments used are not quite as good.  From a glance at the tubes, there is no mention of fillers.  So, I imagine that it is the pigment quality.
  • As above, most brands have an "Academic" quality and an "Artist's" quality.  (I thought we were all artists, but go figure).  The Artists quality have brighter colors and the pigments are less opaque, therefore glazing goes a bit better and when you need a color the stand out and smack you in the kisser, use the Artist's quality.
  • My budget is very low, so I buy fewer colors and mix whatever else I need.  I like the ideas of Stephen Quiller and his "Quiller Wheel".  Read his book, I got my in the library.  Don't follow his ideas slavishly, but think about mixing instead of buying convenience colors.  (Quiller, Stephen, Painters Guide to Color, 1999).  Make a color copy of his Quiller Wheel or buy the book, it comes with it.
  • If you are a true "Watercolorist", you are not supposed to use "Opaque" (horrors, the very word makes me blush).  I use Opaque Watercolor all the time for small finishing touches.  I also use hard pastel, charcoal, and a pocket knife to add details.  I am sure there is a special place down below for folks like me, but I will end up there for other reasons as well.
  • I have seen Grumbacher has an Artist's quality out.  I have been told that this is formulated the same way they did years ago.  I used Grumbacher in the 1960's in my first art class (I was 12).  I used to buy Grumbacher in the local Sherwin Williams store (yes, no kidding). 
  • I have heard raves about Rembrandt as well and the prices seem to be a bit more reasonable than others. 
  • I am not picking on Winsor and Newton.  They make great products and their prices are pretty good.

Just some thoughts.

Dave Capuano

Brunswick, Maine, USA

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