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.

White Nights Watercolours are one of the paints manufactured and distributed by Nevskaya Palitra of Saint Petersburg, Russia.

White Nights Watercolour 36 palette set with swatch card

“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.”

White Nights Watercolour pans

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.”

White Nights Watercolour palette closed with hand for size comparison

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 36 full pan set on Amazon is around $52 , 24 full pan set is $38- with free shipping- this is a screaming deal.

White Nights Watercolour 36 palette set with swatch card

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.

White Nights Watercolour pans and palette

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.

White Nights Watercolour 36 palette set with watercolor swatchs

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

fruit painting by jessica seacrest using white nights watercolors and daniel smith
Fruit White Nights, Background Daniel Smith

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.

White Nights Watercolour chart

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.

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.

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.

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.

White Nights Watercolour 36 palette set

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.

White Nights Watercolours heart mandala by jessica seacrest in a petalic watercolor journal

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.

Posted by:Jessica Seacrest

Hi I'm the Doodlewash Supply Blogger and offer biweekly reviews of various types of art supplies, watercolors, and helpful tips. I approach artistic expression with a light-hearted point of view. I love to see, and support others opening up to, and embracing their creative process with any medium or creative expression.

36 replies on “DOODLEWASH REVIEW- White Nights Watercolours

  1. Wonderful post, Jessica! White nights are just coming in in my country and people are drooling over it because it is artist grade and cost much less compared to other brands. One of these days I might get a set. Yay!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carrie! Nice seeing you over here, yay! That’s exciting that this brand is available where you live now. If you get a set, let me know how you like it. Thanks so much for commenting🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for another great review. I had heard mixed things about White Nights, so it’s great to have the depth of review you gave us. And thanks for the book recommendations – the book on perspective is definitely on my wish list.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just received my White Nights set yesterday. The colors are vibrant on their own and do rewet easily. I am new to watercolors and bought my first set in June. I had ordered the White Nights then, but it took about Three weeks, via Amazon, to get to Denver. So, I have bought other paints in the meantime. I got a class on Craftsy that shows how to use basic primary colors, cool and warm shades of blue, red,and yellow to achieve luminous colors. I got that Daniel Smith intro set for the class,as that is what the instructor was using. I did the color charts as instructed, mixing gradient amounts of a cool blue with a cool yellow, warm blue with cool yellow, warm red with warm blue, cool red with warm blue, and so on.
    I did the same with the White Nights, trying to get similar reds, yellows, and blues as the Daniel Smith colors. I found great differences. The DS are more translucent and brighter when mixed, while the WN are more opaque and a little duller. Not that this is a bad thing. Just something I would not have realized if I had not taken that class. The 36 color set of White Nights gives a lot of choice and the price is good for the pan size. Please remember, I am new at this and more experienced watercolorists will have different results.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you are off to an outstanding start Terry! Thanks for sharing your experience! I totally appreciate you comment. Happy painting to you!


  4. I haven’t tried White Nights! I did read that the earth colors are not as intense, especially when mixing. I’ve been trying to use different sets that I have and I keep reaching for my DS and Holbein.. And now, Sennelier.. Would love to try Schminke.. Thanks, Jessica!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sennelier is another favorite of mine. I’ve been doing a lot of testing tonight…and it’s decided, hehe. Thanks so much for your comment Kari!


  5. Well, you talked me into it. I think it was the phrase “screaming deal” that did me in. Can’t pass that up! I do need a new pan set as I feel I’m juuuuust starting to outgrow my Koi field set. Thanks so much for your thorough reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe, hi Lisa. It is a screaming deal! I’ve seen what you’ve been doing. Yes! Get something other than the Koi🙂 Yay you!


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