Today for the world tour of watercolors celebrating World Watercolor Month, we will take a look at brands manufactured in three different European countries.  Schmincke from Germany, Sennelier from France and MaimeriBlu from Italy.  All watercolors presented are artist quality.  I also have a short watercolor paper comparison between student grade and artist grade, and a couple other odds-n-ends.  As usual, there’s quite a bit going on in this post!

Schmincke, Sennelier, MaimeriBlu watercolour tube, pans and samples


Founded in the year 1881 in Germany, by Hermann Schmincke and Josef Horadam.   The Horadam line was patented in 1892.  One of my favorite artist’s- especially his landscapes, Emil Nolde, used these paints.  They come in a range of 110 colors, 69 are single pigment. Sold in full and half pans, 5ml and 15ml tubes, and numerous different sets


“The motto of the founders of the Schmincke Company was “Meliora Cogito” (I strive for the best). 120 years later, we find today’s owner continues to strive for the best products to meet the demands of today’s artists. Schmincke watercolors contain the best raw materials, such as rare gums, water soluble resins and the finest quality artists’ pigments in the highest possible concentrations. Schmincke quality control is very exacting. For instance, Kordofan Gum Arabic from the Southern Sahara region is a principal ingredient. Like most natural products, quality differs from year to year – like good wine. To maintain consistent quality, Schmincke’s laboratory conducts extensive tests and selects only the best crop of the respective year.” 

Presented below- the Schmincke Half Pan Watercolor Pocket Set, it came with a size 5 Da Vinci Cosmotop Spin travel brush.  

Schmincke metal watercolor travel palette with a da vinci size 5 travel brush

The Horadam pans have no info other than the brand on the bottom of the pan, I wrote the paint name on with a Sharpie.  Pans are a bit smaller in size than other brands.  Schmincke is more on the expensive side of paints, at least in North America.  It’s a very nice paint, but sometimes there is a huge price difference on sets if you are in the US, when compared with other artist grade paints.  Paint sets that are just as nice are available for more reasonable prices. Individual tube prices seem slightly higher compared to other brands. Shop around for this brand if you are interested in purchasing- a few links provided below. This is a very popular brand, but I don’t feel that it stands out over other well liked artist quality brands, especially for the price.

I took the railing out of this metal palette box to fit more pans in.  I put a small amount of rubber cement on the bottom of the pans to secure them in.  Rubber cement is a removable adhesive, inexpensive, easy to use, and works fine.  See the post on Metal Travel Palettes for more ideas.  In the second palette photo up there, the metal box contains Schmincke pans and the MaimeriBlu reviewed below.

Watercolor swatches done on Strathmore 400 Series watercolor paper.

Schmincke watercolor swatches on strathmore 400 series watercolor paper

Rows 1 & 2 are from the original set, row 3 I added in.

  1. Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Carmine, Ultramarine Finest, Prussian Blue
  2. Phthalo Green, Permanent Olive Green, Yellow Ochre, Venetian Red, Sepia Brown, Ivory Black
  3. Cadmium Orange, Brilliant Purple, Helio Green, Helio Cerulean, Payne’s Grey Bluish

Colors are vibrant and transparent.  The Cadmium Orange flowed really nicely out of the tube.

Here is a downloadable PDF with info, lightfast and opacity ratings and color chart. It contains extensive information on these paints.  For more technical info- see

Schmincke small box with Da Vinci travel brush 12 half pan set on Amazon- $90.

Schmincke large box, without brush, 12 half pan set on Amazon- $61.  Cheaper and room for more pans in the rails.

Full Pan Set, 12 Colors in a metal box at Dick Blick- $140

Every year Wet Paint sells a limited edition 12 pan set for a really good price.  I don’t remember what time of year this happens, but if you are a member of any Facebook art groups, word gets around.

A little price comparison of the tubes between brands.  I used the price of Burnt Sienna for all brands and linked to Dick Blick for this example.

Sennelier– Watercolors Made in France using traditional methods:

Founded by Gustav Sennelier, this company has been around since 1887 and started making watercolors in 1893 and it looks like their l’Aquarelle line went through a revamp in 2012. They are well known for their oil paints and oil pastels.

“L’Aquarelle Sennelier has been produced in the same way for more than a century using the best pigments and top quality Kordofan Gum Arabic as a bonding agent. This mix of natural ingredients produces colours which have a smooth, bright texture and offer lively, colourful shades. The Gum Arabic and honey combination offers incomparable quality of application, producing superb washes. Then, this base is mixed with pigments and carefully ground. Sennelier makes sure to wet the pigments in purified water (with no mineral salts) for 24 hours before mixing them in with the bonding agent. This improves the way in which the colours and bonding merge together, in turn bringing out the full beauty of the colours”

Sennelier aqua-mini watercolour with watercolor half pan and l'aquarelle sample tubes

This brand is so lovely- comes in 10 ml and 21 ml tubes, half and full pans and sets, in 98 colors. Out of the brands featured here, this one is my favorite.  The price of their individual tubes is also great. Somehow I ended up with this sample pack. I think I wrote to them sometime last year and they sent it. I’m waiting to squeeze the samples into pans, it’s a lot of paint and I need to decide some stuff before I open them. Sennelier also sells their own brand of paper.  That’s a small 4.25″x 6″ block below, I got it from Cheap Joe’s for $11.25, which was the best price I could find.

Aqua-mini– this is a cute little travel set that comes with a tiny little brush.  The brush isn’t super useful, but I love this set.  It’s totally worth getting if you want to try this brand- $22 on Amazon. More options listed below.

Sennelier Aqua-mini and sample painting in a Moleskine watercolor journal

The pigments are so clear and vibrant.  I like that their watercolor pans have the brand name and pigment number on them, but it would be nice if the color name was printed on them also.  I wrote it on with a Sharpie.   They rewet with a touch of the brush.  The paints are made with honey, the pans aren’t as sticky as M. Graham or White Nights. Although, I haven’t filled my own pans with tubes to make a further stickiness comparison.

Watercolor swatches done on Strathmore 400 Series watercolor paper. Colors listed below and I bought a half pan of the last one, which is Neutral Tint.

Sennelier watercolor swatches on Strathmore 400 series watercolor paper

Primary Yellow, French Vermilion, Cinereous Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green Light, Sap Green, Burnt Umber, Payne’s Grey, Neutral Tint.

Watercolor Chart with lightfast and opacity key.  Technical info available on  Not a stellar review from him, which surprised me, but I only have this small set to show.  His review might be outdated. I stress might because of updates made to the Sennelier line since the initial Handprint review in 1999.

Metal box 12 half pan set Amazon- $60, which is $30 cheaper than the small Schmincke box, but it does not come with a brush.

At the time of writing this Dick Blick has a Half Pan Metal Case, Set of 12 (plus 6 FREE!) for $60.48- that’s 18 pans total. The Aqua-mini is $18. The 12 Half Pan Metal Pocket Box is $53.48.

3:05 minute video from Sennelier of pigments being mixed and processed and packaged.

MaimeriBlu watercolor from Italy:

“Founded in 1923 by noted Italian impressionist painter, Gianni Maimeri, who was searching to satisfy his own burning desire for artistic excellence in paint.”

MaimeriBlu watercolor tubes and half pans

These are “handmade” watercolors with a gum Arabic binder from Kordofan, in 72 colors, of which 52 are single pigment.  Sold in 15 ml tubes and half pans.  Two of the pans I filled from tubes. The others are the most disappointing pre-filled pans I’ve ever seen.  When I first opened these, I went…hey wait a minute, look at this shrunken little paint pad rattling around in here!?  There are no color or pigment labels on the pan, only the brand name.  Again, I wrote the paint names on with a Sharpie.

They rewet nicely.  A lot of pigment shift from wet to dry and they look dull.  I wouldn’t buy this brand again, it’s the most disappointing artist quality paint I’ve used. I’m not going into this brand much, because your money would be better spent on another brand. Full disclosure, all other reviews I came across had nothing but praise for this brand.  Because opinions vary- here is the link to a review done in 1999 on he gave them a good review.  17 years ago was a long time, maybe something in their paint recipe changed.

MaimeriBlu watercolor swatch samples

Naples Yellow Redish, Indian Yellow, Garnet Lake, Venetian Red, Cobalt Blue Light, Green Blue, Indigo

Their color chart.

MaimeriBlu watercolor chart

Paint swatch comparison of all three brands, you can see how different the MaimeriBlu looks compared to the other two brands.  All swatches done on the same day and photos taken consecutively, in the same light.

Schmincke, Sennelier, MaimeriBlu watercolor swatches
MaimeriBlu Left, Sennelier Right, Schmincke Bottom

So far, I always do swatches on Strathmore 400 Series watercolor paper.  I use it because I have some, it keeps all the swatches in one place, it keeps things consistent, and a lot of people use it.  I’ve also said a few times that I don’t like painting on this paper, today I show why. Bellow is a comparison, not only in the three different brand of paints, but artist grade paper vs. student grade paper.  Or two brands of paper at least.  Three simple sample paintings done with Schmincke, Sennelier, and MaimeriBlu.  Arches cold press artist grade watercolor paper on the top, and Strathmore 400 Series student grade watercolor paper on the bottom.  I did them all in a row. Paper makes a huge difference. I’ll make the disclaimer that I paint wet and most of the composition of these were painted using wet in wet technique.  Usually I’m a little heavy handed with the paint.  I stuck to doing a lighter wash for example purposes🙂

Schmincke, Sennelier, MaimeriBlu watercolor painting samples on Arches watercolour paper and strathmore 400 series watercolor paper
Schmincke, Sennelier, MaimeriBlu

The second half of the post from last week had a price comparison of sets from different brands- here it is if you would like to check it out.

Below is a full sheet of Fabriano Artisitco 140lb Italian watercolor paper divided into 16 small sheets. A pack of ten 22”x 30” sheets is about $35 at Jerry’s Artarama, about $3.50 a sheet. It works out to be cheaper to buy full sheets and tear them to the size you want, these are approximately 5.5″x 7.5″.   I used the bone folder to crease the fold back and forth a few times, and then to tear.  There was something satisfying about doing this.  If creasing and tearing paper, make sure your hands are clean without lotion or oils.  I ended up doing this on my kitchen floor because it’s tile, and the largest surface I have.  Someone asked why not scissors when I posted this photo on IG, which is a logical question.  Scissors won’t give that hand torn look, and then there is also the risk of not getting a straight edge.  This lady uses a karate chop- here in her 1:53 minute video!  I might go Karate Kid on it next time.

fabriano torn watercolor paper and bone folder
Fabriano Artistico

Urban Watercolor Sketching by felix scheinberger

Urban Watercolor Sketching by Felix Scheinberger.  Put simply- I love this book.  I’ve shared it before.  Since there are a lot of new people, and it was translated from German so it goes with the theme, I’m sharing it again. It’s super lively, creative, and fun.  I checked it out from the library and liked it so much that I bought it.  I love his section on pigments, and there are a lot of tips throughout the book.  The whole thing is illustrated by him with a lot of expression.  I wouldn’t exactly classify this book as classical Urban Sketching.  It’s kind of wild and unruly- which is what I love about it.

World Watercolor Month is also a non-profit initiative.  The Dreaming Zebra Foundation is an organization that brings art supplies to underprivileged kids in need.  Please click image below or here – it takes you to the Art Room Aid Project on Dick Blick to donate.  OR if outside the United States, then please donate directly to The Dreaming Zebra and let us know it’s for World Watercolor Month in the comments with this link.

Art Room Aid Promo Banner with Dreaming Zebra Foundation for World Watercolor Month 2016

watercolor painting by jessica seacrest with Maimeriblu and shmincke watercolors
Schmincke and MaimeriBlu

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! For the last Saturday of World Watercolor Month, we will visit the UK!

Happy Painting!

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.

47 replies on “DOODLEWASH REVIEW- Schmincke, Sennelier, MaimeriBlu

      1. Sure! Back then, when I picked up water colouring, all I remembered was how my mother (a trained artist) told me how difficult it is. So it was scary! But not too scary to try😉 But, starting out, I could not find much useful advice on materials to get. All I found was painting technique advise. Had I stumbled upon your advise earlier, I probably would have spared myself of many a disappointment. Oh well, coulda woulda shoulda – all that matters: found you and your fabulous insights you share with us!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This is totally why I write these posts!! I’m super glad it’s been helpful for you! We are all here to help each other🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I appreciate this post also..I am truly a novice..but I love that sennelier mini set I bought an extra one..and another for my daughter.
    In June I visited Sennelier in Paris..a highlight!♥
    I also recently bought that book..not sure yet:)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow Monique, that’s so awesome that you visited Sennelier! Sounds like a wonderful trip. Wishing you and your daughter a lot of enjoyment with the mini set- yay! 🙂


  2. Thank you Jessica for the review. I have tried a couple of sennelier half pans and they are wonderful. So far, I am so satisfied. Saving up for the much coveted daniel smith paints (they are like gold here….so very expensive but a dream to have). Happy to share with you that today I got my first fabriano artistico cp block. Woot!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awesome Carrie Lynn! Let me know how you like the paper🙂 I’m sure I will see some of your lovely work with it on IG! Daniel Smith- totally worth saving up for. Yay- happy painting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Jessica, great review. I had never heard of the Italian brand before. I do have some of the other two brands. Mostly gouache from Schminke. That seems the best type of gouache. I was able to get a special set at 50% off retail from Wet Paint earlier this year. It was a set put together by Roz Stentahl. I also got a great little set of Sennelier from Amazon earlier this year. I have not used it yet for some reason. But I have one tube I bought separate and I use that paint all the time. Great paint. I have an incentive to get that set in use now. Thank you for the visual on the paper comparison. Very interesting. I recently tore down full size pieces of artist paper for a journal I made. I used the bone folder approach you did too. That was very satisfying, I agree. I liked the teared edges too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We must be on the same supply wavelength Nancy, hehe! Sounds like you got some really great deals- yay! Thanks for commenting and happy painting!🙂


  4. I really enjoy your reviews, very though! I would like to see your thoughts on Rublev paints, they are a small company in Northern CA, and James Gurney mentioned them in his blog at one time. They are also known as Natural Pigments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cathy, thanks so much! I’ve never heard of Rublev paints, but I’ll check them out. I keep saying I’m not buying more paints, but sometimes I don’t exactly stick to that. Oye!😉 I’ve checked out a couple of handmade brands lately and at least one I will be reviewing.


    1. Ahahaah, I am so amused by this! Thanks so much Cathe! You help me to stay encouraged🙂 Sometimes I feel like a crazy junky for having all this stuff! But better paint than crack I always say😉


  5. Wow, there is so much to digest here Jessica. For the record, I started out with Mameriblu and dint like either. Went right to D. Smith which I love, but have been trying some other brands.
    And that little set, oh, I think I need one. 😄
    That book sounds interesting also. Good thing I have Amazon Prime😄😄😄

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was taught in Commercial Art classes 40 years ago to ALWAYS buy the best! WE were urged to by Winsor Newton Artists Watercolors and Acrylic and Oil paints.I still do but gladly use the other brands I was sent with an order of art supplies from Jerry’s Artarama! I haven’t ordered from them in many years and go to Michael’s or AC Moore’s for supplies. I do need a new supply of WATERFORD creamy white unbleached hot pressed watercolor paper though. I used to get that in 20″ X 30″ sheets of 10. Now so expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree about getting the best if at all possible! I’ve not tried Waterford paper. Next time I order I will try some. Thank you for your comment🙂


  7. Ha, I should have held off on my email to you about paper until this post came out! The painting comparison between the Strathmore and Arches paper was so helpful and really illustrates the difference in paint flow. I’m almost relieved to know that changing paper will likely help with some of the issues I’ve been struggling with. The side-by-side comparisons of the paint swatches are also really helpful. Thanks to your reviews I’ve been able to narrow down the brands I’d like to try to a manageable list that I’m slowly making my way through!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome Jen, I’m super happy that my posts have been helpful. I’m so happy that we emailed! I feel like we are all here helping each other out and encouraging each other. One of the things I appreciate about Doodlewash is the opportunity to interact and learn and be inspired from so many different people. 🙂❤


  8. I have had only student grade paints until this last May when I received the 18 half pan set of Sennelier’s paints for a birthday present. OMG, these paints are wonderful! They’re highly pigmented, vibrant, and transparent. The colors in the 12 + 6 set are marvelous for a first set of paints. Blending is easy and creating mud is hard! Who could ask for more in a watercolor set?

    I thought I loved Lukas 1862 watercolor paints, but since receiving this Sennelier set I only like Lukas 1862, and love the Sennelier set! I just wish I was a better painter so I could use them to their full potential. I hope one day I live up to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello,
    Since you do lots of review, please tell me your experience on Sennelier Watercolors and Holbein Watercolors both in its own pans and tubes, and tell me why you pick and use that brand over the others.

    i am currently using Holbein Watercolor Tube, and i love the transparency of its transparent line of paints, Holbein is very transparent , vibrant and very smooth when compared to other brands, but i read a lot of review about the Sennelier paints are glowing so it made me think of switching brands. I usually paints Anime and Manga most of the time and some Architectural Paintings. That’s why let me know your experience with Sennelier Paints, is picking sennelier over Holbein worth it?


    1. Hi Haru,

      Sorry for the late reply, I was out of town and offline.

      I have so many reviews because I use all of these brands- picking a favorite is not easy. I’ve found that, as with everything in life, it comes down to the person’s personal preference. As an example, a lot of people like Schminke- it’s not my go to brand, but there’s no real reason for that, other than it’s expensive in the US. I normally buy tubes because that’s how most artist quality are sold, and you can fill whatever pans you want with them. If you don’t want to hassle with buying pans and filling them, buy prefilled. It looks like you have commented on the Sennelier post, so you know what I have to say about those and there is a swatch sample. I have Holbein sets, and I have a bias towards Japanese products and aesthetics. You can read the Holbein review here, there are big swatch samples:

      Both Sennelier and Holbein are artist quality and vibrant. Most brands vary slightly in appearance from one another, and each have their signature color(s). Sennelier is affordable and a very nice watercolor. The best way to figure out what you like is to try an inexpensive small sample set of the brands you are interested in. Perhaps find one of the Sennelier AquaMini sets and give it a try? What you already have is also great.

      Sometimes to make comparisons, I copy and paste photos into Word so I can look at them side by side. Maybe you can do that with my swatch photos of Holbein and Sennelier? Or save a couple of them to you phone and look at them that way? I take them all in the same place, and similar lighting. I also believe both were done on the same type of paper.

      I would love to know if you end up trying the Sennelier, and if so, how you like them. Best of luck in your artistic journey!


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