Woo hoo, half way point of World Watercolor Month! High five to everyone participating! The word agog came to mind when I was reflecting on the week. So much amazing and diverse art beauty being shared! Today’s stop on the world tour of watercolors is beautiful Russia. This post begins with a look at a 36 full pan set. To assist those in the market for a set of watercolors, we will also take a look at a short cost comparison between comparable artist quality pan and tube watercolor sets.
“The factory was found in 1934 and started as a small varnish-and-paint factory which was built by the English production engineer Julius Fridlender in 1900 on the river Chernaya. Nevskya palitra’s materials are used for restoration works in such museums and monuments as the Hermitage, the State Russian Museum, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Church of Christ the Savior, St. Basil Cathedral, the Grand Kremlin Palace and many other monuments. Our permanent buyers are masters of unique folk Handicrafts of Palekh, Mstera, Kholui, Zhostovo, Pavlov Posad, many icon painting workshops and churches.”
These are vibrant and a really great buy. Most sets come with full pans in 12, 24 or 36 colors in a plastic palette box. The pans are in a translucent pliable plastic.
“The extra-fine artists’ water colours of the “WHITE NIGHTS” series are manufactured with finely dispersed and lightfast pigments. The paint structure also comprises gum Arabic. This results in a quality paint, giving artists full assurance when completing important artwork.”
I ordered this from St. Petersburg Watercolours in the UK because there was an offer for a free Kolinsky size 4 brush. Back when I ordered, it was no more expensive than Amazon. I think I paid around $75, that included shipping and tax. I gave the brush to my mom, so I don’t have a picture of that. The site is still selling the 24 and 36 sets with a free Kolinsky brush and free shipping in the UK. They sell Kolinsky brushes sizes 0 thru 7 on there too. Pan sets now also come in metal palette tins and that the pan material has changed to white hard plastic. Presently, the 36 pan set which includes the free brush, is going for 38 pounds, which roughly converts for about $49 us dollars. With shipping and tax to the US, it’s about $67 dollars. I don’t think their site is deducting VAT for those purchasing outside Europe. Seems like a super easy set to obtain in Europe.
The pan presentation isn’t the prettiest and these were kind of crusty when I unwrapped them. By crusty I mean the adhesive used on the pan labels was brittle and fell everywhere. The foil wrapper was also stuck to some of the paints and little bits stayed stuck in the pans. I thought I had gotten an older box of them, but I have a friend that experienced the same with her set. The paints are always a little sticky. Makes me think that they contain honey. The plastic palette box has a space to keep a brush and a plastic detachable mixing area that folds up into the box. Mixing area in the lid also, so plenty of mixing space. It came with a swatch card to paint them on yourself, and it fits inside the box. There is not a lot of info on what these are made out of other than pigment and gum Arabic. Their chart below says 37 out of the 55 pigments are mono pigment. It also says “unsurpassed price-quality ratio,” and I agree.
To be honest, I wasn’t that excited about this set, until I started using them to write this review. It has turned out to be nicer than I expected. I even ordered a set for my mom. It’s a surprise🙂 . She’s been a total trooper and has really gotten into World Watercolor Month. The colors are super vibrant, rewet instantly, and I like how they move on the paper with wet in wet technique. Yellow Ochre looks a little weak, and I’ve read a few reviews where people comment on the earth tones being weak. I haven’t used the earth tones a whole bunch, but from doing the swatches, they seem more transparent compared to some of the other colors. This set comes with both Raw & Burnt Sienna, and Umber & Burnt Umber, as well as lots of earth tone options. Right now I’m in love with the entire set. Many of the pigments are more opaque than other brands, for example, Holbein. I have an extra pan that I ordered with this set- Cobalt Blue Spectal, but I don’t see it available on their site any longer, so I’m not able to link to it.
Swatch done on Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor paper. Click to enlarge.
Paint names are in order of appearance in the box and the swatch. Their spelling is a little different, for example, Hanza instead of Hansa and things like that, but I used the common western spelling.
Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Med, Hansa Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Golden, Golden Deep, Titian Red, Ruby, Cadmium Red Light, English Red, Quinacridone Rose, Carmine, Madder Lake Red light, Quinacridone Lilac, Violet, Ultramarine, Blue, Cobalt Blue, Indanthrene Blue, Turquoise Blue, Indigo, Cerulean Blue, Yellow-Green, Emerald Green, Green(Russian), Olive Green, Oxide of Chromium, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Umber, Burnt Umber, Mars Brown, Sepia, Payne’s Grey, Neutral Black, Zinc White
I threw the wrappers out back when I got the set, but on her blog, Guest Doodlewasher Jane Blundell says that the wrappers contain what the pigments are and lightfast ratings. One star, not so lightfast, three stars lightfast. If you have an interest, she has the pigment numbers listed for a 24 pan set.
Full pans are also sold individually in 55 colors, silver and gold metalic available. They also come in tubes.
Their watercolor chart below, and a link to the color chart with lightfast ratings and a downloadable PDF. The key indicates which pigments are opaque, semi opaque and transparent… if you can see that tiny! It’s easier to see the small print in the link.
Examples using these watercolors. I don’t use a light touch when it comes to color. I tried above with the fruit to provide a sample with a lighter wash. My first time painting fruit! These were done in a small Pentalic Watercolor Aqua Journal and a Stillman & Birn Beta Journal.
It can be confusing out there with all of the paint options. After this month, many of the more popular major artist quality brands, will have been reviewed. Because I think it might be helpful for people new to this medium, here is a list of other similar sized artist quality sets. All these brands come in other size, or pan/tube container options. Links on the brand names will take you to the reviews that are available on them. For the sets, I linked to mostly Amazon, only because it’s easy to compare, and their prices are usually good. I have no affiliation with any retailer and all of these brands can be purchased elsewhere from online retailers, or your local art store.
- White Nights- 24 full pan set– $38
- Holbein– 24 5ml tubes $49
- Mission Gold– 36 5ml tube set with palette- $58
I have not done reviews on Winsor & Newton, Schmincke or Sennelier yet, but they are coming up this month, and possibly something short on MaimeriBlu.
- Winsor & Newton- 25 half pan set– $145
- Schmincke- Horadam half pan set of 24– $191
- Sennelier- 24 half pan set- $124.00
- MaimeriBlu- 24 half pan set– $93
The sets below only come in tubes. With the exception of the 24 tube set from QoR, the others only have small introductory sets, other than the regular tubes that they sell.
- Daniel Smith– 5ml tube intro set of six– $25
- M. Graham– 15ml tube set of ten– $98- bear with me here on the review I’m linking to. It was my first one.
- QoR- 24 tube set– $84
- Da Vinici- 15ml tube palette set of 6– $40
I have tried all of these brands, except Da Vinci. I like them all, but they are all different. And by no means is this all that’s out there. If I was starting out and looking for an affordable and good set- I would pick the White Nights, or Holbein. These give a little more freedom of not having to stick with a tiny half pan. But any of the sets listed above would make an artist happy. If the brand doesn’t come with one, like Mission Gold, keep in mind that the price of a palette has to be factored in if buying tubes. These Mijello Fusion palettes are nice. If you are a seasoned watercolorist and want to add to your existing paint collection, the world of watercolor brands is your oyster, and you probably already know what you like.
I am not brand loyal, and I don’t get caught up much in a die-hard favoritism. Ask 10 different people on their preference for paints and you will get as many different answers. Brands, paints, brushes, paper are all a personal choice and there are so many different things that factor in to our choices. I have total respect for anyone’s personal preferences. I write these posts in hopes that they will aid people in finding what works for them and to share the art love.
If you are new to watercolor, but are serious about learning the medium, try artist quality paints- if you can, or save up for them- instead of using chalky cheep stuff like this, or this. I have chalky and cheap sets, and I’ve had fun with them, but to get those luminous and translucent works that are so lovely, those sets don’t work. For another comparison- this Winsor & Newton student quality Cotman 24 half pan set is $42. It’s a nice set, but it costs about the same as a couple of the artist quality sets listed above. Why not get the better quality? You and your artistic expression are worth it! Above all else, go with what speaks to your heart and what feels right to you.
One of the things I appreciate about painting is entering into that flow state. It’s that state where you are very focused, don’t know how much time has passed, and don’t care how much has either. The worries and mental chatter fade as the painting is being created. It’s possible to slip into that meditative and wordless state. It doesn’t happen for me every time, but it does often enough. Have you noticed this happening while you create? To me it feels like sweet relief!
I don’t know of or have art books by Russian artists, so I’m offering these:
Chinese Painting Techniques for Exquisite Watercolors by Lain Quan Zhen. This book is amazing! Zhen combines Chinese and Western styles for amazing nature painting results. There is also instruction on how to do sketches on birds, fish and flora. Not a total beginners book.
Perspective Made Easy by Ernest Norling- not a book on watercolor but very useful on perspective. I like it because the examples he uses are simple and the info is straight forward.
I try to check any book out from my library before I make the purchase investment. Sometimes I forget about this option, so I’m passing it along.
This is an ongoing Saturday series of watercolor and art supply reviews. All previous review posts can be found under “Reviews” on the menu or click here. If you haven’t already joined the Facebook group for this first ever celebration of World Watercolor Month, come join us, we are having a lot of fun over there! The rest of the Saturdays in July, we continue on with the world tour of watercolors, next stops- Germany, France and the UK! Cheers to less TV, and more painting🙂
Peace, love and watercolor.