This review is my addendum to Bruce MacEvoy's excellent research on other professional grade watercolor paints that can be seen on his website. It is also a response to a company that, until recently, was welcoming and supportive of me and appreciated my applied and shared knowledge of art practice. Note : results of my review are based from careful reading of labeling (comparing to 2016 ASTM lightfastness ratings) and personal use during a handful of demonstration opportunities in store. No personal lightfastness or microscopic tests were held.
From the price, these paints are much more affordable than standard professional grades, leading to my first consideration of them as mostly suited for students - much like the Cotman line of Winsor & Newton. From this point, it is difficult to admit to the large amount of faulty information in their line of watercolor paints compared to other professional watercolor brand standards. Not to say that other professional brands do not take at least small liberties in labeling - they all do, to the detriment of the artist. In terms of performance during demonstrations I was fairly unimpressed with their fluidity and pigmentation load. The binder was lacking and more chalky in feeling as compared to other professional brands. Those reasons, and cheaper alternatives in pigment selection, may support why there is an overall lower price.
After analyzing the 63 paints, the significant problems initially encountered were incongruities in labeling. Most notable were misnomers (decisions mostly made for marketing and not standardization purposes), such as hues named Yellow Ochre and Raw Umber typically single pigment paints, Cadmium Orange using red pigment, Quinacridone Red using violet pigment, an unspecified Phthalo Blue (Red Shade or Green Shade?), Titanium white buff, typically an off-white, as bleached Titanium white, and 12 other paints undesignated as hues. Also, moderate and fugitive (III / IV) pigments were used in at least 8 paints, including Crimson Golden (original convenience mixture), Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Magenta, Magenta, Quinacridone Violet, Dioxazine Purple, Indigo, and Van Dyke Brown - while 4 others, Naples Yellow, Alizarin Rose, Permanent Alizarin, and Brown Madder, may have been needlessly rated with low lightfastness according to 2016 ASTM results. Of the other paints, ratings of I or II to 19 paints (30%) are falsely advertised.
At the end of the day, it usually comes down to personal preference and your experience utilizing them first-hand. However, this is a notable percentage of errors in labeling, especially compared with the Utrecht line of watercolor paints. The few positive aspects of this line are its reasonable pricing and consistency in quality. The pigments, although widely inaccurate in label, are finely milled. They offer 2 original convenience mixtures, Crimson Golden and English Red, along with 2 oddly named variations from PV 19, Alizarin Rose and Quinacridone Rose. There are better options to choose from if you are spending a large amount of money on professional grades, especially now that the bulk pricing substantially lowers the price of each tube the more you buy. Consider other more notable brands of Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, Utrecht, or M. Graham - among select others - for the best of the colors you need.
- 41 : single pigment paints
- 18 : faulty naming [Yellow ochre (hue), Cadmium orange (PR 108), Quinacridone red (PV 19), Phthalo blue (RS / GS?), Raw umber (hue), Titanium white (PW 6:1)]
- 19 : faulty positive LF ratings
- 4 : possible faulty negative LF ratings (Naples yellow, Alizarin rose, Permanent alizarin, Brown madder)
- 4 : original convenience mixes (Crimson golden, Alizarin rose, Quinacridone rose, English red)
- 8 (11?) : fugitive paints (rating III-IV) [Crimson golden, Alizarin crimson, Quinacridone magenta, Magenta, Quinacridone violet, Dioxazine purple, Indigo, Van Dyke brown]
Mixing Set — This set contains 5 colors in 14 ml (.47 oz) tubes, including Alizarin Crimson, Ivory Black, Lemon Yellow, Naphthol Red, and Cobalt Blue.