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 like the sound of the Grumbacher watercolor paints.  They are very economical but the postage to Australia is way too much. If I lived in the Us  I think I would definitely try them.

I like the look of the Windsor and Newtown small pocket size pan sets.  But they are really pricey here in Australia.  I think I need a trip to the Us to buy paints haha

I like my winsor newton pan paints, but also will use koi for the brighter colours - at least I have found that my koi seem to maintain the brightness best.  My new favorite 'watercolour' medium is derwent inktense pencils and blocks - I know that they are not 'watercolours' but they work like a watercolour to me - and the colours are so vibrant and stay bright even when layered and dry.  I've discovered a technique - I'm sure other artists have as well - but thought I'd throw it in here - where I will use the pencils - a combination most often of derwent inktense and WH Smith pencils - and then 'blend' them with a copic or other alcohol based/permanent  marker - they do wonderfully this way, and you can really get some nice shades with that combo.  Sometimes I find the pencils to be a bit grainy when applied to certain papers, etc - and with the marker blending they smooth right out beautifully.  I've also used rubbing alcohol along with the inktense as a 'blender' or to waterdown the colour for shading, etc.  I like that technique on canvas or yupo or a high quality watercolour paper, or even the copic/marker paper. Blending with markers take away the buckled water effect that you can get (or at least I do - artist on a budget ;) )  on some papers that are not designed to take as much water as others .


No I haven't.  However, I have improved on the brightness of the student color with hard pastel (NuPastel).  The drawback is that then you have to spray your work with fixative and that tends to darken the work. 


Judy Schaffer Firneno said:

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

I don't know how where they market Grumbacher, but it is a large company and someone must be importing it to Australia.   I saw‎ on-line.  They must import from around the world.  

BTW, Have you looked at Holbein?  The name doesn't sound it, but their producsts are made in Japan.  Much closer to you.

Pauline Donohoe said:

I like the sound of the Grumbacher watercolor paints.  They are very economical but the postage to Australia is way too much. If I lived in the Us  I think I would definitely try them.

I have tried many artist grade watercolors--Daniel Smith, MaimeriBlu, M Graham, SoHo, Mijello, Holbein, Turner, ...I could go on. I always come right back to DaVinci. DaVinci seems to do best for me.
I used white knight watercolours and love them, they have honey in them and are so soft and creamy. I use pans and the colour lifts really easily too.

I have made several...I buy empty plastic pans that fit in the metal palettes.  I use rubber cement and glue them in a variety of containers.  I have two different size crayola tins, and a discarded cigarette holder I made travel palettes from.  There is even room for a brush or two if I saw off the length or get a travel brush.  Each has a bit of gummed eraser and a piece of an old plastic card for scraping and embossing. Any tin will do...I save white lids from everything from toothpaste tops to water bottles.  I use these to share a bit of paint or make a wash.  My favorite homemade palette is my mother's antique pill box.  In the three compartments I put the three primary colors, and I love it.  For mixing I use styrofoam plates when I use these travel palettes.

Pauline Donohoe said:

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 used Maimeri Blu and they are remarkably transparent.  I like them most for skies.  For more vivid color I use DaVinci.

David Capuano said:

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.



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