I was going to start the reviews on watercolor/sketch journals this Saturday, but there was inquiry after the Daniel Smith Part II post about luminous colors. I thought it would be more timely to offer this information. There are a lot of options out there for luminosity, sheen and sparkle. I like gold in things. I use it outright, or sneak it in a bit. On Social media forums that I’ve participated in, everyone always wants to know what golds people are using, so I’m laying it all out here. This week features a few different brands of gold/luminous/pearlescent watercolors, gouache, and ink options. Brands featured- Finetec, Holbein, Pebeo, Liquitex, Yasutomo, Sakura, Winsor & Newton, and Daler Rowney. There’s short examples of a folded nib pen, ruling pen, and dip pens. Supply pictures and a few examples along the way, and then swatches at the end on both white and black papers. This is the first time I’ve done a post with so many different products, I hope it doesn’t seem too disjointed.
Finetec Artist Mica Watercolors are manufactured in Germany. Sets feature metallic shades in Golds, Silver, iridescent and pearlescent colors in Shining Pink, Red, Fine Lilac, Red Violet, Blue Pearl, Blue Silver, Green Pearl, Blue Green, Bronze, and Red Brown. Many calligraphers use Finetec. Most of the images in an online search will be photos of calligraphy- but these are watercolors. That thing next to the palette in the photo below is a folded nib pen, it also might be referred to as a ruling pen- an example, for the curious at heart. Besides the Holbein Brilliant Gold Gouache, presented below, these are my favorite. They need some warm up time before with a couple of drops or spritz of water prior to painting.
Description from the Finetec site:
“MICA is a natural product and comprises a group of minerals. FINETEC PEARL COLORS are light-fast.The PEARL COLORS can be dissolved with water and mixed with each other to achieve different shades. They can be applied on all absorbent materials like paper, wood, gipsum and other surfaces.PEARL COLORS allow for fantastic effects and can be laid upon other colors to achieve astonishing results. They just invite for experiments.”
The sun’s rays are Finetec over ink and watercolor.
The best prices that I’ve found are from Merri Artist– in the link, scroll down to below the pencils. They also sell single pans. I bought the single pan of Arabic Gold, pictured above, to try before buying the set of six. The sets of six are around $13, metalic set of six $19 the full set of twelve is around $22. Merri Artist has quick shipping. These are more expensive on other sites, especially the full set or the all metallic sets. Dick Blick also sells a couple of sets, and single pans, at a higher price. I think it would be rare that anyone would be disappointed with the quality and luminosity of these watercolors. A set of six of these is around the same prices as one tube of Daniel Smith’s Luminous line.
Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent Watercolor Paint Cakes 16– $6.71 on Amazon, $3.74 at Merri Artst. They also come in a set of 21 colors. These are around a few dollars for a reason. There isn’t much paint in the pans, the iridescence is weak. I think I got this set from my local Michael’s craft store. If you want something like this, I recommend putting the money towards a Finetec set. See swatches below.
What I would like to try from Yasutomo, are one of their Sumi-e Porcelain Pan Watercolors. I find the porcelain container presentation to be very attractive. But if it’s the same quality of paint as what’s in the set above, I’ll skip it.
Before I continue, I want to provide a definition of what gouache is for those that are not familiar with it. Basically it is an opaque watercolor. Traditionally it is rewetable like watercolor, however, there are acrylic versions out there by Holbein and Turner– these do not rewet. Definition from Wikipedia:
Gouache (/ɡuːˈɑːʃ, ɡwɑːʃ/; French: [ɡwaʃ]), body color [a], opaque watercolor, or guache, is one type of watermedia, paint consisting of pigment, water, a binding agent (usually dextrin or gum arabic), and sometimes additional inert material. Gouache is designed to be used with opaque methods of painting.
Holbein Artist’s Gouache in Brilliant Gold- $13 at Dick Blick– I love this paint. There are other brands that make gold gouache, for example Winsor & Newton and the Pebeo pictured above. To me, this tube is where it’s at! That’s the Holbein gold on the palette above. It does not rewet well, so I work at using that small blob. I would recommend using it from the tube only. Oh the sparkle! The first two examples below are watercolor and Brilliant Gold on Yupo synthetic paper.
In this example, the gouache was layered for a solid effect. It needs to dry between layers.
Pebeo Studio Gouache is a student grade paint. Color chart here. I like the silver in this brand, that’s a spot of it in the round palette above. These rewet well. I can’t remember where I got my smaller tubes from, but I found these on Dick Blick, they are large tubes for about $10. I can’t see most people wanting a giant tube of silver or gold though, unless they are really into making large paintings with it. See below for swatches of these.
There are iridescent mediums that can be mixed with watercolors. This one is by Winsor & Newton and is less than $6. You could iridesce all over the place with this bottle!
Other options are acrylic inks, which can be used directly from the bottle or thinned for washes. Liquitex is around $7 a bottle, it’s also sold in sets of regular colors. FW Artists’ Acrylic Ink by Daler Rowney comes in a pearlescent line. I don’t have any of these, but they are an option – Dr. Martin’s Iridescent Calligraphy Ink, which look really sparkly from the pictures. None of these rewet once dry. For making lines, these can be used with a liner brush, dip pen or ruling pen– see below for more info and picture.
Sakura Gelly Roll pens, sold in sets, but can be purchased individually. In a pen, the gold ink that I like best is Metallic Gelly Roll. The ink can be smeared or manipulated before they dry. I’ve tried other brands, but none have been as nice as these. If you’re really looking for some sparkle from a pen, check out the Gelly Roll Stardust– I like the clear. Just want to try one or two of them, try your local art store for open stock.
This example uses Finetec around the edges and in the circles. The Gelly Roll Metallic silver was used on the flowers and lines below on the black. The gold pen was used for the grid and the large circle. Other mediums used were PanPastel and watercolor.
Quick info on dip and ruling pens. Pictured below is a Deleter nib holder, Tachikawa nib holder and nibs, and a Pro Art ruling pen. Speedball brand is usually what can be found in stores- I got aggravated with that brand and found these. Scrub new nibs off with a toothbrush before use. Rinse and wipe the acrylic ink off of the nibs often while in use. The dip pens also work well with fountain pen ink. I don’t want to go on too much about these. If you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.
FW Pearlescent Acrylic Ink, sold individually or in sets of six. Online retailers and places like Michael’s craft store sell them, as well as local art stores. If purchased from Michael’s, be sure to find the 40% off coupon online. These work fine on paper, but they really look awesome on Aquabord.
Here is a 2:20 minute video overview of FW Inks.
I added these into the post last minute, the quick swatches should give you the idea.
Yeah, this one got a little messy, I was in a hurry to leave for work.
And finally, the swatches for everything else- all of these were on the more difficult side to swatch and photograph, especially on the white paper. The paint palettes didn’t come with paint names, they appear in the same order they do in the palettes.
Swatches were done on Starthmore 400 Series Watercolor paper. Click to enlarge.
- Row 1- Finetec
- Row 2- Pebeo Gold & Silver, then Holbein Brilliant Gold, W&N Iridescent Medium, Liquitex Ink in the last two squares
- Remainder of rows are Yasutomo Niji, and then gold & silver Gelly Roll Pens
These swatches were done in a square Derwent Black Book. The colors and luminous quality on the first three rows really pop compared to the last three rows.
- Row 1- Finetec
- Row 2- First square Finetec Arabic Gold, then gold & silver Sakura Gelly Roll
- Row 3- Pebeo Gold & Silver, then Holbein Brilliant Gold, W&N Iridescent Medium, Liquitex Ink
- Remainder of rows are Yasutomo Niji
There are others options out there, gold leaf is one that I would like to try. Calligraphy inks come in gold, Winsor and Newton has one too. Other brands, for example- Golden, have various medium options, and Daniel Smith if you would like to stay within the realm of watercolors.
This is an ongoing series of watercolor and art supply reviews. Up next- watercolor journals/art journals/sketchbooks. They are big topic to cover, and something that many artists have deliberated over. I hope that this post was illuminating😉 and that the information provided is helpful to your artistic exploration!
If you haven’t heard yet- July is World Watercolor Month! Charlie, the creator of Doodlewash, went and did something awesome and now there is an official month for watercolor. Out of 18,000 submittals, his was one of the few picked! Click that link above for details and to join the Facebook group for all the watercolor fun in July.
Happy sketching and painting!