Pfeiffer Art Supply wrapped half pans and tins and handpainted swatch card and Redwood Willow watercolor sample dot card

DOODLEWASH REVIEW: Handmade Watercolors- Pfeiffer Art Supply & Redwood Willow

It’s a wonderful thing for someone to be moved and excited to make something, and then to venture forth and share that creative endeavor, especially handmade watercolors!  What a magical creation to share with the world!  I imagine that there would be quite a bit of trial and error to get them just right, and all that hand mulling might tone up the triceps and biceps. Today we will take a look at two new makers of handmade watercolors, Pfeiffer Art Supply and Redwood Willow.  They each have completely different palettes from one another, pretty awesome.

Pfeiffer Art Supply Handmade Watercolors

Jennifer Pfeiffer, located in San Diego, California, loves nature, art, and working with color- Pfeiffer Art Supply was born in June of 2016 from the love of these three elements.

I found out about the paints on Instagram.  A lot of the time, I go with how things make me feel.  What do they call that nowadays- the “feels?”  There is something very cheerful about these.  The paints, my interaction with Jen and her enthusiasm made me feel good, and happy to be supporting this small business.  I recommend checking out their Intagram account @pfeifferartsupply for additional photos, some are of the raw pigments.    

“Pfeiffer Art Supply began with wanting to craft pure, vibrant, non-toxic pigments and other natural ingredients such as: organic honey, a natural preservative, and gum Arabic into beautiful, buttery watercolor pans of paint. These are not paints bought from your local art store and squeezed into paint pans. The pigments are all mulled by hand on a glass slab. Also, each paint is poured by hand into their half or whole sized pans. Each color takes about a week from start to finish to create and no two will look “perfect” or alike. It is normal for some cracking to appear.  We allow the color to dry multiple times to shrink and then refill so that you get the most amount of color for your dollar.”

All the paints are non-toxic artist grade paint- no fillers and from what I can tell, just about all of them are single pigment.  Paints come in whole and half pans $12 and $6, respectively. As handmade watercolors go- these are nice prices. Travel sets are also sold, they come in three different sized tins, and you can choose the colors you want.  I love that you can choose your own set.  I purchased the six half pan set, it came with a small waterbrush- $36.  They also have an eight, mixed size pan set for $65, and a four pan set for $24.  The pans are secured into the tins with little round magnets and sets come with a small hand painted swatch card.  Personalized tins available with a name and date if you request it!  My order experience was great.  Jen responded quickly, shipping was reasonable and quick.  I ordered from their website, but they also sell on Etsy and have all 5 star ratings.

Pfeiffer Art Supply unwrapped half pans with watercolor paint names

All colors are named after birds.  The colors that initially caught my eye were Rosefinch and Yellow Bill.  Paint name and color are printed on the sides of the pans- I give a big thumbs up for that. The paints offered are:

Falcon- Red Ochre, Toucan- Orange, Cardinal- Red, Goldfinch- Dark Yellow Ochre, Yellow Bill- Lemon Yellow, Motmot- Soft Green, Parrot- Green, Tanager- Turquoise, Macaw- Ultramarine Blue, Magpie- Blue, Babbler- Blue, Wood Nymph- Dark Blue, Cuckoo- Lavender Blue, Rosefinch- Rose Ultramarine, Heron- Gray Ochre, Crane- Titanium White, and another new color that was just created- Kingfisher which looks to be a dark red.

On the site, pigment, composition, lightfast rating and other info is listed individually for each color.  For example, this is Tanager- Turquoise:

“Composition: Natural Base G7 (74260)
Chemical Formula: Si4010(OH)2Mg3-Co3Ca-Cr203
Lightfastness: Excellent
Color stable to 330 degrees F.”

Swatches done on Fabriano Studio cold press watercolor paper.

Pfeiffer Art Supply watercolor swatches on fabriano paper
Pfeiffer Art Supply
The six I chose for my travel set were- Yellow Bill, Toucan, Rosefinch, Parrot, Tanager and Magpie.  She was very generous and sent me Babbler, Heron, and Crane to try along with a little bit larger tin to store them in.  I did not receive anything in exchange for a review.   As you can see from the swatch, Yellow Bill and Crane are the most opaque.  The word that comes to mind for these paints is smooth.

These abstract landscape examples were painted on Fabriano Artistico 140lb cold press watercolor paper.  The paints rewet easily, mix nicely together and flow well.  They lift easily. I find them to be vibrant and I like painting with them.  There are a few other colors that I wouldn’t mind having.

Pfeiffer Art Supply abstract landscape watercolor paintings by Jessica Seacrest and watercolor half pans

Redwood Willow Handcrafted Watercolors

Founded by Josie and based out of Connecticut, they also started selling paints in June 2016. Looks like June was a fortuitous launch month for handmade watercolors.

redwood willow handmade watercolors sample dot card

I also came across these on Instagram @RedwoodWillow– and decided to try the dot card, it was $6.75 and that includes shipping.  The shop is on Etsy with all 5 star ratings.  These are artist quality earthy pigments- all paints are single pigment.  I enjoyed painting with them and they rewet nicely.  Some of the colors I really like and I plan on doing more small paintings/sketches with the card. Half pans go for $9 each.  Sets are also sold. So far I’ve seen a four half pan set- Urban Limited Palette- $36, available when I wrote this. The Popsicle Set is a six pan set, and there is an Antique set which is a full set- not sure on the prices of these.  Other unique tin palette sets are also sold.  Recently they came out with two new colors, Slate Gray and Prussian Blue LUX.  Not a lot of stock in the shop, but Josie expressed to me that she is committed to growing the business.  Update announcements are made on Instagram.  I would be very happy with a set of these paints.  They are absolutely beautiful.

“They are made with pigment, my own binder that includes honey, and a natural preservative. All of the paints are made from the finest pigments and are mulled by hand for at least an hour to ensure the pigment has mixed with the binder. Majority are completely lightfast. The only color that has a SLIGHT change in color if exposed to straight sunlight for an extended period of time is Buff Titanium but it is very minimal. It’s a small enough change that you wouldn’t notice unless you had them side by side and are actively pointing it out. All other colors have not faded or changed in my extended tests.”

Redwood Willow watercolor dot card

The dot card I have came with:

  • Buff Titanium, French Ochre Light, Raw Sienna Italian, Fawn Ochre, Gold Ochre Light, French Ochre Havane
  • Green Earth Light, Burnt Umber Cyprus, Dark Burnt Sienna No. 3, Venetian Red, Burnt Umber Dark Brown, Indigo Genuine, Vine Black

I ended up doing a swatch of them in order of a set of six that I would like, plus three more because there was room.

Swatches done on Fabriano Studio cold press watercolor paper.

Redwood Willow watercolor swatches on Fabriano paper
Redwood Willow

Calm/Storm sample paintings on St. Armand rough watercolor paper.

Redwood Willow watercolor painting by jessica seacrest on St Armand paper

The review of Greenleaf & Blueberry handmade watercolors can be found here.  Some observations. When G&B first started becoming known, people were hesitant to buy and I saw a lot of questioning of quality on Facebook group comments- absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Now G&B are not as easy to come by. There is a lot of interest, and one has to be there ready and waiting to purchase when an update is announced, poised to click quick.  Handmade stuff doesn’t come in large quantities.  I received comments about being lucky after sharing that post. Luck had nothing to do with it, a fondness for trying new things and seizing the moment did.  If you are interested in what was reviewed, get them- if it feels right to you, before they become more challenging to get. Handmade watercolors are a treat for any watercolor enthusiast.  It may sound kind of corny to some, but I know when I’m painting with these, I’m painting with the maker’s passion and with all their dreams that went into making the product a reality.

Jean Haines Paint yourself calm watercolour book

Jean Haines’ new book came out in July- Paint Yourself Calm: Colourful, Creative Mindfulness Through Watercolour.  I checked this out from the library.  It is free flowing fun and expressiveness, and very abstract.  Definitely full of color!  No advanced instruction here, it’s for those that want to get into the feeling of things.  To be honest, sometimes painting stresses me out because I put pressure on myself.  This book is more about the “feels.” ;). After using that twice in this post, I may never use that slang ever again.  

World Wide Tribe watercolor painting by Jessica Seacrest
World Wide Tribe

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. We have a lot of fun over there, join in if you haven’t already!

Supply posts are every other Saturday. See you next time!

Happy painting!

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Art Supply Reviews

30 thoughts on “DOODLEWASH REVIEW: Handmade Watercolors- Pfeiffer Art Supply & Redwood Willow

  1. Aarrggh- so many colors, so little time LOL. Very interesting post as usual, Jessica. Question: how is it possible to mull by hand for ONE HOUR? Other question: how do these handmade colors compare with fresh paint in tubes, which you said you prefer?

    1. I know M.L., I know! Ha! I’m not knowledgeable about the process of making handmade paints. I appreciate that someone else is doing it. One hour does sound like a workout. The consistency of her paints if very fine and lovely, I was impressed by them. In my experience handmade handles a little bit differently. The ability to be lifted seems more pronounced than commercial brands. Between the two handmade brands that I have pans for, their is a similar consistency and feel to the paints. It’s hard for me to give preference, because they are unique and I like to experience different kinds. Most of my paints are from the tube.

  2. Jessica, I look forward to your reviews of hand made watercolors. What a task of love and effort goes into this business. I haven’t the knowledge or technical skill to even consider making paints so am doubly in awe of those who do. Thanks for complete info about these paints and the people who make them.

  3. I spent large part of my professional life in the pigment industry (not for art) and I’m fascinated seeing someone making watercolors hand production for passion! It must be a great passion!
    Now for my own use it would be nice to paint with them but as an absolute beginner I’m afraid it’s to early…maybe I’ll order some anyway for when I’ll be ready to use such a specialty! Thanks for the review!

    1. Hi Robert, sounds like you were in an interesting profession. Never too early to enjoy nice paints. I started off with good quality, nothing wrong with going for it!

  4. Once again, you bring us tantalizing treats and I have placed an order with Redwood Willow (you enabler, you – smile) who is almost in my back yard. I appreciate your endorsing using the best products even when learning. How is a beginner to learn about products if they practice with poor quality materials? I’ve never been much for painting in a journal, but you are beginning to prompt me to that action. Thanks for your thoughtfulness.

  5. Thanks Jessica, great review as always. I ordered the sampler for Redwood Willow. I have yet to try it, but something tells me when I do, I will want some. I started on good watercolor, not artist quality though. I wish sometimes I had started with artist quality. I think that would have a made a difference for me. The biggest thing though, is I need to practice and practice. I think I have said that before in my posts on your reviews. I love hearing about new products.

      1. Hi, I did a sample page this afternoon. I loved the colors. The paper seemed to soak the paint up more than other brands. Is that usual with this type of paint?

        1. I didn’t experience that. The paper could have something to do with it. Have you tried experimenting on different papers? Thanks for sharing your experience!

  6. “It may sound kind of corny to some, but I know when I’m painting with these, I’m painting with the maker’s passion and with all their dreams that went into making the product a reality.”

    Not corny at all, most especially, I’m guessing, to the people making this stuff. I am sure it means a lot to them when someone truly appreciates and feels all that goes into a handmade product. You’re a great ambassador for the medium, Jessica!

    1. Aww thanks Jen, very sweet of you! I feel like people are often overly critical of themselves and others. I like to express a voice in another direction. Thank you for your comment! 🙂

  7. Thanks for the great review! I’ve tried Greenleaf & Blueberry, and Pfeiffer art supply watercolors, and I just love them! So different from commercial brands. It’s really hard to resist. I’ve been looking for a bigger set from Redwood Willow since the postage to my country is so high, but still no luck. Will keep looking! However, I found yet one supplier of handmade watercolors on Etsy, MatteoGrilliArt, and I bought some, so it’ll be interesting to try! The most fun is to see the difference in between brands, and how they handle.

    1. Hi Lisa! I think you paint the unusual faces (greendot)? We are kindred spirits when it comes to watercolor enthusiasm :). I really enjoy using a variety, although sometimes I wish that I didn’t- ha! It can be an expensive obsession. And wow, are MatteoGrilliArt paints beautiful! I would love to see what you paint with them. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  8. Thanks for another great review! It is so great to learn about paints I never would have come across. I am looking at the box from Pfeiffer – fantastic that there’s an option to choose your own 6.

  9. Hi, Jessica. Wondering if there are Italian made, handmade paints. Would love to buy some as souvenirs from my visit to Tuscany. Wouldn’t a pan of burnt siena…actually made in Siena!! …just be the nearest thing ever for a watercolorist?!?!

  10. Hi, Jessica. Wondering if there are Italian made, handmade paints. Would love to buy some as souvenirs from my visit to Tuscany. Wouldn’t a pan of burnt siena…actually made in Siena!! …just be the nearest thing ever for a watercolorist?!?!

  11. Hi Jessica,

    I just wonder how a pigment containing oxides of Chromium and Cobalt be labelled as non-toxic ?

    Tanager- Turquoise:
    “Composition: Natural Base G7 (74260)
    Chemical Formula: Si4010(OH)2Mg3-Co3Ca-Cr203

    I find that many people are quite ignorant about what’s in their paints? Its more of a hazard to the paint maker than the end consumer.

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