Hello! It’s been over a month since my last supply review. As things tend to, something’s popped up for review. Today’s post is on Anthesis Arts handcrafted watercolors out of Gainesville, Florida, USA. Feast your eyes on these! Seriously.
If you’ve been following my reviews, you’re used to me telling a little info about the people and/or company, as well as the product presentation and info, and sometimes little odds-n-ends here and there. It’s the people with their unique experiences and artistic vision that make a product special. This is not a short post, and there are lots of photos. So here we go!
Angelique Bochnak, the creative force of Anthesis Arts, is a Renaissance woman! After being inspired by the texture and depth that comes from painting with beautiful Greenleaf & Blueberry handmade paints, she decided to start mulling her own. Anthesis Arts launched their line of handcrafted watercolors on March 5th 2017. The shop also carries hand carved brushes, and will carry hand turned calligraphy pens and, hand bound art journals. As a girl, Angelique’s grandfather taught her how to carve and turn wood, and she continued on with that skill into adulthood. A little more about Angelique:
“I am an environmental scientist and chemist (partly why I love making paint, it’s like running a lab at home). I grew up in the hills of southern Ohio, running the woods and splashing in the creeks. My love of the outdoors led me down my career path as an environmental scientist. I spend a lot of time outside for both work and recreation. I love plein air painting, especially landscapes and flowers. I never leave home without a camera, I never know where inspiration will come from. The best part about living in Florida now is the range of tropical flowers I can grow. I am an orchid collector as well. My love of orchids is how I came up with the name Anthesis. Some flowering plants can be so ugly without their blooms, but once that blooming period begins (anthesis), their true beauty emerges. My goal as an artist is to take something simple and ordinary and turn it into a beautiful work of art. I view my paints as a work of art.”
First, I have a few unboxing photos to share. They shipped quickly and came in a nice little box.
I came across pre-shop opening posts for these on Intstagram- @anthesisarts. The presentation, product photos and swatches are all beautifully done and that is what initially attracted me to them. I offered to review, and Angelique generously sent some for me to try. As far as I know, to date, this is an exclusive review, so a sneak peek of sorts. Generally, handcrafted watercolors go quick once people find out about them. If you are interested in these, I recommend getting them sooner rather than later. Just like a few other handmade watercolors out there – I predict these will be something one has to stay vigilant for an update to obtain.
Not only did these arrive with a hand painted swatch card of all three sets available, each set comes with a hand painted removable swatch card in the lid. I really liked this and it saved me from having to cut paper to size. The package also included a information card about the paints. A little piece of natural sea sponge came in each tin as well as desiccant packet to keep moisture to a minimum. Remember these ship from Florida, it’s humid there. I thought it was smart and caring to add these little packets. I left all images full size so that you can get a good look. They can also be clicked on to enlarge.
The wrapped paints look like little candies. Pans come individually wrapped with the color name printed, and hand painted on the wrapper band. The name is written on the bottom of the pans and there is a little magnet attached to secure them to the tins.
The three different watercolor palette sets that they carry are Coastal, Meadow, and Forest. Each palette comes with eight unique paint colors, so no cross over between palettes. I will be reviewing the first two listed. If you haven’t seen or experienced handmade watercolors that use earth pigments and minerals, I’ve found that they always lend depth and texture to painting. All of the the “Petal Cap” pans were nicely filled, with a little muffin top action going on.
They are sold in four different sized sets- whole pans, half pans, or the “Petal Cap” sets with small round caps- slightly less than a half pan, and large round caps- slightly more than a full pan. They also carry Pocket Pearl Duos and sets, which are luminous pearl paints. No individual pans sold at this time, but I believe they have plans to add them later. The presentation of the sets is lovely. The small round Petal Cap sets I have here go for $58 each, the larger sized pan sets of course, go up from there.
Coastal Palette– Horizon Blue, Breeze Light Blue, Cordgrass Earth Green, Sea Salt Grey, Dusk Earth Mineral, Driftwood Natural Umber, Lemongrass Light Yellow Ochre, Sand Dune Titanium Buff.
All swatches and paintings were done on Fabriano Artistico 140lb/300gsm cold press watercolor paper, unless otherwise noted. I tear full sheets to the sizes I want. To give some info on what I did on the swatch below- the top black line is drawn under the undiluted paint and the second one over the dried paint, these are to show opacity. The white spot of missing paint is to show how well it lifts. They all lift easily. All handmade watercolors that I have tried lift easily. I added a little too much water when I washed out the Horizon Blue swatch and it resulted in a back flow. I’m sure most of you are familiar with this occurrence.
Meadow Palette– Tulip Mayan Red, Daffodil Mayan Yellow, Monarch Colonial Yellow Ochre, Foliage Green, Danselfly Mayan Blue, Iris Mayan Violet, Amaryllis Earth Mineral, Chestnut Warm Umber.
Pans take a long time to dry, up to three weeks for some colors. Above, I left one wrapper in the photo because some paints remain tacky, so unwrap carefully. I kept the wrapper for the Foliage Green so that I could use the small amount of paint that stayed on the wrapper. The Horizon Blue above was also tacky, but it didn’t leave much on the wrapper.
The third set sold is the Forest Palette– Stellar Mayan Indigo, Conifer Mayan Green, Lichen Turquoise, Sulphur Yellow Ochre, Purple Heart Earth Violet, Rust Earth Red, Bark Dark umber, Shadow Black.
All pigments used are artist quality. All are single pigment, with the exceptions of Horizon Blue and Driftwood Natural Umber. Those two colors list two pigments on the color index on the actual pigment label. Anthesis makes their binder from raw products- gum Arabic, honey and other natural ingredients- no fillers. The lightfastness of all of the pigments they use are Good, Excellent, or Permanent. The pigment and lightfast info is provided in the description on the shop listings.
With what I’m about to say in the next few paragraphs, I’m inserting this swatch from the shop in here so it can be referred to if needed. I’m not commenting on the paints in the middle section because I don’t have those.
These are indeed highly pigmented, I was surprised how much so. Tulip Mayan Red, Iris Mayan Violet, Daselfly Mayan Blue, Cordgrass Natural Green, and Driftwood Natural Umber have some granulating properties. They all rewet nicely. Beautiful paints. The shop and Instagram feed have some really nice swatch photos that show four gradations of each color.
The day these arrived I wasn’t feeling my painting mojo very well, so I did the above swatch. There’s a lot I’m saying here- so bear with me. The large middle columns are wet in wet that I let blend together. This swatch also helped me to see possible similarities in colors. At first glance, the two red earth pigments appeared similar wet in wet, but they are in separate palettes. The Dusk Earth Mineral in the Coastal Palette on the right, has more depth and texture, there is an interesting dark undertone that comes out when used in a wash. I used the Amaryllis Natural Mineral from the Meadow Palette on the left, in my sunny skies to give them a warm glow (see below). It wasn’t easy to distinguish between the two blues in the Coastal Palette when they washed together using them wet in wet. There is a definite delineation when they are not as diluted, seen on the top right corner, where they compliment each other. I used both blues in that palette when painting the sea and they worked nicely together (see below). The darker blue- Horizon, and Dusk Earth Mineral in the Coastal set mixed nicely to make a dark cloud color for stormy skies (see below). I like how the bottom three colors in the Coastal Palette- Driftwood Natural Umber, Lemongrass Light Yellow Ochre, and Sand Dune Titanium Buff blended and washed together. And that bit of rainbow action happening on the left from the Meadow Palette, I like that too.
Top left I used only the Meadow Palette. Top right I used only the Coastal Palette. Bottom two I used both palettes to get what I wanted. That Iris Mayan Violet- yowza! I love it…and the yellows and earth red used in the skies. I love the warmth I was able to obtain in the desert painting. I had a lot of fun painting these. I found each exercise to be an interesting discovery.
The set of four small sample paintings, were inspired by David Bellamy’s book- Skies, Light & Atmosphere in Watercolour.
I did a couple other paintings that are not fit for sharing. This is always the hardest part of a post. But I will show this one. I was practicing water, and painted from a photo I took looking out at an intense sky over the Kilauea lighthouse from Anini Beach, Kauai. I’ve taken to keeping the paints in the lids until I put them away. The lids can be mixed in, but I used a separate mixing dish. The little hand bound leather watercolor book is filled with Arches 140lb/300gsm cold press hand torn watercolor paper, and was made by The SpeckledKat. I’ve really enjoyed this journal, it has a lot of pages and I paint on both sides. Lots of lovely journals in her Etsy shop.
Since the dawn of expressing ourselves, humans have been using ochres and earth pigments to paint on rocks and cave walls. While painting with them, I think about this, and the connection that using them brings with our ancestors. Handmade watercolors handle and feel slightly different than commercial brands, they have a natural depth and character. I consider handmade watercolors to be a creative investment. One of the best things I’ve ever done for personal growth, is invest creatively in myself. I have learned so much from this investment. This doesn’t have to mean expensive supplies, it could mean to simply honor your creative process, practicing deep listening, or setting aside time, connecting with other creatives, or using what’s at hand. Which could be paints, a pencil, or a stick to draw in the sand with. As always, the spirit of my reviews is to share what I learn with the intention that it helps you make a more informed decision about a medium or supply, and to help you invest in you, and your growth. When I can, I like to feature and support small business makers that create lovely products. Thank you, for spending the time it took to read this review. It exists because of you.
From corresponding with a few people that make and sell handmade paints, I’ve come to learn that a lot of research and trial and error goes into figuring out the right formula to mix and make artist quality watercolors. It is a time consuming process. It takes dedication and really is a labor of love for those that make them. I’ve reviewed handmade watercolors from three other small women owned businesses- Greenleaf & Blueberry, Pfeiffer Art Supply, and Redwood Willow, all of which, I think are wonderful. Many other art supply and watercolor reviews can be found under “Reviews.” Presently, new art supply reviews happen when they happen, but always post on a Saturday.
“The highest value currency is not money or faster machines; it is the ability to see and see and keep seeing the world through different eyes- and then do something with the unique way you see it.”
Cheers to the creative visionary, visionary, visionary in you.
Happy painting, sketching, and creating!
I can be found on Instagram @jessicaseacrest, where I’m generally up to something and sharing whatever that is.
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