Hi! My name is Jessica Seacrest and I am a Doodlewasher! After this introductory post, I will post a series of watercolor paint reviews every Saturday. Posts will also include money saving tips, and hacks. Check back this Saturday for a new post.
Whether you find yourself to be a hobbyist, a dabbler, a professional, or just curious, this series of supply reviews are for those interested in creative process. Personally, I’m a hobbyist, but also one that went all in on the artistic path. I’ve tried many mediums, but my first and true love remains watercolor.
My reviews will start out with this medium and may eventually include other mediums. I will be reviewing a whole spectrum of different watercolors, opaque watercolors, and gouache, from the least expensive up to several artist quality brands. We hope that these reviews will help you decide on what paints you might want to try, along with saving you time and money.
How did Charlie get those brilliant colors in his paintings of the Umbonia Spinosa and the Peacock Mantis Shrimp? Look no further than M. Graham watercolor paints. These highly pigmented artist grade paints are made by nine folks and a part time stray cat, inside of a 3000 sq. foot warehouse surrounded by hops fields in rural Oregon, USA.
M. Graham makes these highly pigmented paints with a binding agent of gum arabic and blackberry honey.
“As an essential ingredient in our binding medium, honey contributes to moistness for smooth, easily controlled applications, increased pigment concentrations, and freedom from over reliance on preservatives. Because of the honey medium, our watercolor resists hardening on the palette, or in the tube. It dilutes easily, often after months of disuse.”
Paints are sold in half ounce individual tubes and sets- a ten color set, and several sets of five. The five tube sets are grouped with a “scape” theme or in colors theme- Basic, Jewel Tone, Quinacridone Quintet, Cobalt Mix, Landscape, Cityscape, Marinescape, and Shades of Summer. They have a couple of paint colors that I believe are unique to them- Quinacridone Rust and Terra Rosa. A full list of their colors and lightfast ratings can be found on their website.
These are available for sale at local art stores and many on-line retailers. On Amazon their five color sets go from around $43-$55, but I’ve seen the Quinacridone Quintet going for around $25 at times. Keep your eye out for price fluctuations. I did get a duplicate Sap Green in these two sets pictured below.
The paints rewet instantly. Because of the honey, filled pans take quite a while to harden, longer than other paints do. This is my M. Graham palette with full pans that I filled and put into a bamboo watercolor paint box that I got from Dick Blick. It comes with a slide lid and the swatch I did fits in the groves and slides in with the lid.
First Row: Bismuth Yellow, Scarlet Pyrrol, Yellow Ochre, Nickel Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Rust, Terra Rosa
Second Row: Permanent Green Pale, Sap Green, Olive Green, Cobalt Teal, Cerulean Blue, Anthraquinone Blue
Third Row: Ultramarine Pink, Quinacridone Violet, Dioxazine Purple, Burn Umber, and…room for two more!
See Charlie’s My Little Palette post for his travel palette set-up and the list of M. Graham paints that he uses.
A tip I learned from the Guest Doodlewasher Jane Blundell on filling pans that is genius – only fill them part way, and at an angle. This creates a slanted surface for your brush to slide in, and a little reservoir at the bottom for more diluted paint. This works much better than stabbing the brush into a full pan. I angled these when I squirt the paint into the pan, and did a little tapping of the pan on my desk. On a couple, I used a palette knife to get the angle.
Below are three color swatches showing more of the colors. These were done in a 9×9 Bee Paper Company Super Deluxe Sketchbook with 93lb. paper. Even though I did wash these out on portions of the page, I tend to be a little heavy handed with paint. Like all watercolor, these can be diluted for transparent washes.
This wild sky desertscape shows the vibrancy of these watercolors. I used everything in my palette, with the exception of Burnt Umber. I’m not shy when it comes to using color and love to paint intense skies. It seems like I barely touched the Anthraquinone Blue in for the clouds and they came out extremely vibrant. This paper is a handmade cotton rag paper by Saint-Armand Papetiers.
I would like to know what paints you would like to see reviewed. Spring is upon us and summer coming soon, would a different travel palette set-up review interest you? Let me know in the comments below! You can also find me on Instagram @jessicaseacrest, where there are a couple other recent paintings using M.Graham paints.