Today’s review is on artist quality Greenleaf & Blueberry Handmade Watercolors. Hold onto your eyeballs, I took a lot of photos for this post!
Jess and Matt, owners of Greenleaf & Blueberry are all-around awesome sounding people. They are rock climbers, she carves one of kind watercolor paint brush handles, and they use a muller and slab to make handmade watercolors. They are passionate about life, creativity and the products that they make and sell. I highly recommend checking out their website. She also writes a blog. Lots of photos on her Instagram- @greenleafblue.
The packaging of the watercolor pans is beautiful. They hand paint the color on each one of the wrappers. The photos of their swatches and paints in their Etsy shop are beautifully done. Full and half pans come in 24 colors, and limited editions.
The 24 regular colors:
Red Ochre, Mayan Red, Orange Ochre, Yellow Ochre, Mayan Yellow, Green Earth, Celadonite, Malachite, Mayan Green, Viviante, Mayan Blue, Mayan Blue #2, Purple Ochre, Violet Hematite, Mayan Violet, Pipestone, Brown Ochre, Cassel Earth, Slate, Graphite, Shungite, Magnetite, Eggshell, Barite White.
They are all single pigment paints, many are ground minerals, with a gum arabic binder, honey to prevent cracking and a small amount of preservative to prevent mold- no fillers, no dyes. These are beautiful, natural looking watercolors. More information on the watercolors and the ingredients can be found here.
Worth a mention- the pans are fat, as in filled to over the brim. They have a muffin top. Not some shrunken square rattling around in the pan, like I’ve received from some commercial brands. I consider Greenleaf & Blueberry paints to be a treat for any watercolor enthusiast.
Filled Half Pans
“Greenleaf & Blueberry is about providing you high-end portable tools for living creatively. We create handmade watercolor paints, hand-bound sketchbooks, hand-carved paintbrushes, thoughtfully selected color palettes, and a few other carefully constructed items.”
“Made traditionally in small batches with muller and slab, and only using natural pigments that can be traced to geographical areas and geological sources.”
The blog is super helpful. Checkout her Watercolor Characteristics post.
Their Etsy shop also features printable charts- a Color Chart, Coloring Mixing, and Color Characteristics. The charts are beautifully done. Last year their shop always had paints in stock. Due to recent growth and popularity, you’ll probably have to pay attention to when their updates take place to purchase pans or sets. They have been selling out quickly.
When I purchased my half pans, most were selling for $7 to $8.50. More expensive pigments cost more- I splurged on the Malachite- $17. They also sell portable watercolor pan sets, with more colors, or small sets with primaries, Wild Bird’s Egg set, The Sketch Kit, and other small sets. I have read threads on various forums and social media where people remark about the price. Yes, these can be more expensive than some commercial brands. I consider this a creative investment that will last a long time. I would rather buy paints than Starbucks, cable TV, or a movie on weekends. We all have our recreational and/or creative priorities. I also like supporting a small business. As always, the spirit of my reviews is to help you make an informed decision about a medium or supply.
I collected these individual pans over time, so there are a few that might seem out of ordinary order, but my palette contains:
Yellow Ochre, Orange Ochre, Red Ochre, Purple Ochre, Mayan Yellow, Mayan Green, Mayan Blue, Mayan Blue #2, Mayan Violet, Malachite, Green Earth, Celadonite, Pipestone, Violet Hematite, Cassel Earth, Slate, Graphite, Shungite, Zinc White, Brown Ochre, Mayan Red, Côte d’Azur Violet.
Swatch- Fabriano Studio Watercolor paper, 140lb hot press.
“Our line of watercolors is a professional grade, lightfast, quality artists’ material. For a variety of reasons, we have made a point of only using natural Earth, Ochre, Mayan, and Mineral artist’s pigments. One of these reasons is the proven lightfastness. These are the same pigments that were used in cave paintings tens of thousands of years ago and throughout Art History. They have stood the test of time. We believe that artists deserve to have complete confidence in their materials.”
I take them at their word about lightfastness, I figure they know their product. Since I’ve seen people question the lightfastness on different forums, and a friend asked me about it, I did a 20 day test. The swatch was taped to a window- in always sunny Southern Arizona. No change in color, not even a little.
Two of the grays they offer are my favorites- Slate and Graphite. The Graphite has a sheen to it.
Here are a couple of other close-ups on the swatches:
I also did a second lighter swatch sheet on Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor paper.
Painting with these feels slightly different than with commercial watercolors. As you can see from the swatches, many of them have granulating quality. Celadonite is very granulating. They rewet well. It’s been my experience that they all lift very easily from the page, sometimes I’ve had mild frustration with this. I like to put drops of water on them prior to painting, although it is not necessary. Some of the colors remind me of the Daniel Smith PrimaTek line.
This sample was done in a Pentalic Watercolor Journal, love the paper. See this post for more info on the Pentalic. The fountain pen pictured is a Platinum Carbon, the ink is waterproof. I really like this pen, writes on the first try every time. The brush is a Raphael SoftAqua 3/0. Colors used in this sample painting: Yellow Ochre, Mayan Green, Mayan Blue, Mayan Blue #2, Malachite, Cassel Earth, Brown Ochre.
If the photo is enlarged, you might see some gold flecks in the pan of Brown Ochre, these are NOT part of this paint. That is leftover from using Holbein Brilliant Gold Gouache on other paintings.
The example below is in a 4 x 6 inch Stillman & Birn Alpha Series journal. Alpha Series is my favorite, although the Gamma has been growing on me. Since this Stonehenge-esque painting was done before I knew I would be doing a review, I’m not sure of all of the colors used other than: Slate, Graphite and Violet Hematite, some of the ochres and blues & greens.
There are not a ton of photos floating around out there of paintings using these paints. I ended up doing one more quick example with the watercolors. Below I used- Mayan Blue, Mayan Violet, Mayan Green, Mayan Yellow, Purple Ochre, Yellow Ochre, Malachite, Green Earth, Celadonite, Violet Hematite, and Slate. Granulating qualities are visible in the foliage and cacti.
This is in a Stillman & Birn 4 x 6 Gamma Series. It gives you a little comparison between the two Stillman & Birn papers. They are the same 150 gsm./100 lb. weight paper. Alpha is white, Gamma is Ivory. The brush in the photo is a 1/4″ Series 770 Sable Blend Sword Liner made by Rosemary & Co.
Here is a 10:00 minute video review by a woman from the unboxing, to painting with her set of Greenleaf & Blueberry paints.
The Postman’s Knock blog features Greenleaf & Blueberry paints on many calligraphy tutorials.
If you are on Instagam, check out the #greenleafblueberry tag.
This is an ongoing series of watercolor and art supply reviews. Your comments are appreciated.Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Art Supply Reviews
40 thoughts on “DOODLEWASH REVIEW: Greenleaf & Blueberry”
Another great review! (K)
Thank you 🙂
Thanks Beverly, I’m glad that you liked it 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to do all the product reviews and sharing the info. It’s greatly appreciated. Did not know this brand existed. Very “earthy” colors that appear excellent for landscapes.
Hi Linda, they are earthy :). Thank you for your comment.
Really tempted to try these, but unfortunately none are available at the etsy shop…
I know, they haven’t had an update it a while and last time they did I think things sold very quickly. I lucked out getting these when everyone else was questioning them. It was my dumb luck! If you follow on IG, she announces updates and other info. She’s had some health issues and that has been the reason for the shop update delay. I just didn’t want to put that in the post. I wish you good luck in getting to try them!
Just wow, Jessica. You make very thorough reviews and I appreciate this very much. Like the way you researched and the photos to show your results. I’m going to look into this watercolor product and maybe request some as a birthday gift. Also like your mention of journals, this is helpful. I’ve always painted on sheets of hot press but never thought much about using a journal, makes so much more sense. Thank you.
You’re welcome Sharon, and thank you for your comment! For me, sometimes working in journals feels like it takes the pressure off, and there is a freedom in that. Let me know if you give a journal a try! Stillman & Birn make a smooth series paper journal- Epsilon or Zeta series. I use an Epsilon for ink paintings. I hope you get some of these paints for your birthday 🙂
Thanks for an introduction to these unique, awesome paints. You give such informative descriptions and the pictures are amazing! Thank you, Jessica!!
Thanks Carol, I’m glad you liked the review! It’s easy for me to get into doing them. I sometimes worry that they are too long, but I’m trying to switch out every other week with shorter ones.
I like the long and the short, and your pictures make it even better!
Oh dear Jessica this is a wonderful review! I love the nature of these beautiful watercolors and that they are created from nature. I experimented to paint with dragon-fruit and turmeric so I am very curious to see how these watercolors works, your images are fantastic! With Greenleaf they are doing beautiful products, I love their packaging and I gave a visit to their Blog and favorite their Etsy shop! 🙂 Jessica I agree with you when you say “I would rather to buy paints than Starbucks, cable TV, or a movie on weekends” I rather to get something like this too. Also the sketchbook are interesting definitely to check them out! Thank you for writing such great reviews filled with all the beautiful details and photos! You’re awesome! <3
Thank you so much for this comment Carolina! Hehehe, I let the cat out of the bag about no cable. People always look at me funny when I say that in a conversation. I have NetFlix though. How did you like how your turmeric and dragon-fruit paintings came out? Sounds fun! I see people painting with coffee a lot. Because of some comments I’ve been getting, I’m probably going to do a post on journals. Seems like it might be helpful to people. Wishing you the best!
You’re welcome Jessica! I leave you the link of my post “Watercolors from Nature” https://yesterdayafter.com/2015/09/17/watercolors-from-nature/
I actually like how did turned out and I loved the experience I have to say that the colors in 8 months are still the same nothing is changed I am keeping an eye on it for now they are still vibrant like when I painted. I have seen people using coffee I haven’t give it a try yet! It sounds interesting! Best to you too <3
I love them! Your painting turned out beautiful! Love, love, love the color of that dragon fruit! I have a thing for that color 😉
Yes I love that color too is beautiful! The sender address on the envelope you sent me is yours? 😉
Yep, it’s mine 🙂
Ok great! Thank you 😉
Your painting using the dragon fruit and turmeric is so pretty. I saw a picture someone did using red wine as “paint” and that too came out really well.
Thank you so much Jen I am happy to know that you like the painting. It was fascinating to paint with the dragon fruit and turmeric in the moment I cut open the fruit I loved the color so I got the urge to paint! 😉
Thank you for doing the review. I’m now very intrigued by these water colors! Your art is beautiful, I love them.
Thanks so much Ranae, I really appreciate this. The toughest part of doing the review is putting my own artwork in them! But it’s also helping me to get better. Best to you 🙂
Jessica, in addition to journals, would you consider doing a post on brushes in the future? More than anything, I am lost when it comes to picking out a good brush. There are so many choices, and I struggle with finding the right tools!
Yes, I will do that Jen! Funny, I put these same two supplies, journals & brushes, as questions on next week’s post to see if anyone would be interested in them being reviewed. Thanks for letting me know!
Yay! In the meantime, could you recommend a good, but not super expensive multipurpose round brush? I’m not even sure what size I would need – something that works well for washes, but also could be used at least a little bit for slightly detailed painting. I’m using a No. 10 round brush mean for acrylics, and it’s kind of difficult to create the soft effects I want.
I like all the two types of Raphael brushes that I’ve tried, the Kaerell Pointed Round and the SoftAqua Quill- I love this one, good for washes and for details. I think they are reasonably priced, but the shipping adds a little. Blick has a $4.95 flat rate shipping. I will tag you on a pic on IG of the quills if I haven’t already. Are you looking to shop at your local art store? I’ve bought a few Princeton Select at mine and they’ve been fine and inexpensive. I hope this helps. You can always DM on IG or email me at email@example.com
I have a Blick gift certificate, so I think I am going to order the SoftAqua quill and one of the Raphael round brushes. My nearest Blick is a two hour drive, which would probably eat up more in the cost of gas than the shipping costs! I’m also going to order however many new paint colors I can get with what’s left of the gift certificate. That DS Perylene Green will finally be mine!
Wonderful job on this Jessica! Love my three that I started with and want to get more, when they get back in business.
Hi Teri, thank you! it’s been fun seeing your paintings done with them :).
Drooling over that set of Greenleaf & Blueberry!!! I’ve been trying for a year to buy any of the palettes they make, they sell out almost instantly. But these paints are definitely #1 at the top of my “Extravagant Art Supply Bucket List” Thanks for the post. New subscriber!!!!
Good luck with grabbing a set Kimmie! Thank you for your comment 🙂
I love all your reviews Jessica!!! I’m absolutely smitten and fascinated by the world of watercolor and getting more n more obsessed by the day! I’m a newB and constantly discovering new art materials to explore, your website is an amazing resource, I absolutely adore it. Thanks a lot for doing these. I wanted to know how GB colors compare to DS primatek colors, it would be awesome to see them side by side 🙂
So happy you found this helpful Laasya, and I appreciate your comment! I will have a new review coming out this month (March 2017) that you may be interested in.
Great review! I have been wanting to buy her paints for about a year. I am so happy to say that tonight I was able to finally get the Landscape & the Alpine palette!!! I can’t wait to try them!!!
Oh wow Eilene! What an order! I hope you enjoy the heck outa’ them 🙂
I was very attracted to this company for a long time, but I could never buy any of their paint. They announce when they will have paints in stock on Instagram and in 10 minutes, it’s already sold out. I know it’s a small company, and I’m happy for them that they sell every bit they can produce, but you have to really want their paints and be there right on time or forget it.
Hi Livia, it is a lovely company, and difficult to obtain these days. If you like, I can recommend some other handmade watercolor makers that might be easier to purchase from.
Over the course of two years I eventually bought their entire 24 colors in half pans and then added a few of their limited editions. I removed the black, gray and white to a different tin and took this tin and a sketchbook with me on a day trip to San Juan Capistrano. I loved working with them and the sketches I did came out quite well. They mix with each other nicely. It was a slight learning curve compared to my Daniel Smith as these do not rewet as well, but with sprays of the mister interspersed with some patience they were very nice to work with. Some of the colors are just outstanding for urban sketching.
Yes they are pricey but they are hand made watercolors.
And yes, they remind me of Daniel Smith’s Primatek line, which I also love.
While they don’t really suit my style for studio work, I do love them for sketching.