I looked at the Prima Watercolor Confections sets so many times and told myself no. Partly because I don’t need any paints, seriously, you know this if you’ve been reading these reviews. The other part was my inner art supply snob- I told her to shut it. My plan is to use these in my planner and art journal. At the end of the day, I care that these bring joy to my experience. I don’t care if they are lightfast, or transparent- I’m using them in an art journal for personal expression, not professional endeavors. To coin a silly phrase- I’m a funfessional. I’m in it for the fun of it, and discovering about myself. If you’re a funfessional too, you might like this review.
These are distributed by Prima Marketing, an arts and crafts supply company based out of Chino, CA. They are sold/marketed as “artist-grade,” but that means different things to different people. These are not the same quality as Daniel Smith, Winsor & Newton, Holbein, and the like. But hey, I’ve seen awesome things created using a can of spaghetti as a medium, or this guy who paints with a flame. Cai Guo Qiang uses fireworks- if you haven’t seen the documentary Sky Ladder, I recommend it.
These paints make me hungry for sweets! Especially the Pastel Dreams with their dream-frosting-like quality. All kinds of frosted baked goods dancing around in my mind. Many of the paint colors have food or vacation names.
All sets are twelve colors and come in a nice metal paint tin with a numbered swatch card. The swatch card is weird, it has a laminated coating on it. I’ve read some comments that the pans are loose in the rails and pop out easily. No need to attach magnets are do anything fancy, just bend the metal rails in a bit, and voila! They snap in perfectly. There are ways to modify these little tins to hold more pans. See this post for that info. From these side views of the pans, you can see that the paint cube surfaces have a rough look/consistency to them.
The Pastel Dreams set is not very transparent. All but the browns seem to have white paint in the mix. That of course, is how they get the lovely pastel colors. They also have a bit of a strange consistency, a little grainy, they don’t appear grainy on paper though. For the most part, they rewet pretty well. I had to scrub my brush around in them a bit more than in a professional quality brand. The journal swatches and examples are in a 4″x 6″ Stillman & Birn Gamma Series. Not going for fine art here, more like a Christmas tree spaceship kind of look. Also used some matchy matchy Gelly Roll pen colors. Love #39 Crimson paint.
The first four pans in the Decadent Pies set have a subtle shimmer/iridescence to them. The fourth pan #28 Rose Petal, is very delicate color and didn’t rewet as easily as the other pans. Next time, I’m going to put a drop of water on that pan before I start to paint. The blues- #35 Blueberry and # 36 Berry Syrup, and the brownish-red #30 Dark Chocolate, are intense colors. Again, not very transparent.
Below is the color chart for their entire line of watercolors and the lightfast ratings. The rating is 1-3, three being the highest. According to their chart, all but three paints- #34 Pistachio, #25 Frosting and #2 Candy, have Excellent lightfastness. I’m not sure how their’s correlates to standard lightfast ratings, if at all. I emailed them and asked for this chart, and additional information about their watercolor products. I received the chart with no additional comments.
I taped this tiny painting to a south facing window in Southern Arizona- almost always sunny. I used a few paints from the Pastel Dreams set, and a bit of gold gouache that’s not translating well in the photo. It hung in the window for three weeks. It takes way longer than this to conduct a proper lightfast test. But, I did what I could. There was no noticeable change or fade.
My conclusion- these are lovely colors, if you think these sets are attractive and fun, then get them. Just be aware of what they are. No telling if they are fugitive, or what pigments are used. The Decadent Pies set was only $15 on Amazon, an additional clue on quality. I paid a little more for the Pastel Dreams- $23, when I wrote this, the price had decreased by a couple of dollars. There are five different sets available. I wouldn’t buy them to mix up a bunch of colors from, go with known single pigment paints for that. I typically don’t mix for colors, and let them do what they want on the page. My bet is that these make mud quick if mixed on the palette. I’ve seen some really lovely paintings/sketches by people using these sets. If you are a fine watercolor connoisseur, or want something for professional pieces, you might want to skip these. Most likely, you already have.
If you are new to watercolor and are learning the skill, invest in the highest quality paints that you can afford, or save up for them- a small set is all you need. Probably not the first time you’ve heard this recommendation. This might seem opposite of what I said in this review. But when you are starting out, you want to give yourself the best chance at learning this fascinating medium, with the least amount of frustration. Lots of reviews here on Doodlewash on many brands of artist quality paints if you need help deciding.
The painting below makes use of both sets. To get a good sampling, I went to town- used about eleven of the colors. I love painting non-reality into a reality. We are here to create and learn.
I can be found on Instagram- @jessicaseacrest, where all my creative outlets are entertained, and sometimes telling signs of what will be reviewed next can be found- like those Miller’s travel brushes in a couple of today’s photos…
All previous review posts can be found under “Reviews” on the menu or click here. Doodlewash has a Facebook group called World Watercolor Group. Huge variety of folks from all over, and a wide variety of painting styles and skill levels. The group is large and growing every day! We have a lot of fun over there, and there are many kind and helpful people in the group. There are also monthly themed daily painting prompts for those interested. If you haven’t already, please join in and share your watercolor creations!