Let me start this review by saying the MIYA Solid Water Colors Palette is a watercolor kit created for children. As someone who by-passed adulthood, going directly from childhood to second childhood – I love it. That said, at less than $20 USD, it has features that make it appealing from a practical standpoint as well.
Miya Arts was looking for reviewers on Instagram, which made my greedy little heart go pitty pat! I immediately applied, was accepted, and received my set the very next day! I was flabbergasted!
Miya Watercolor – Solid Water Colors Palette Specs
- Contents: 18 pan watercolors/waterbrush/six sheets (bookmark size) watercolor paper
- 6.3 x 7.5 x 2.5 inches
- Shipping Weight 13.1 ounces
- Metal lid & mixing space; plastic palette
- non-toxic through SGS test
- environment friendly
Look and feel
Although, I find the case and overall set to be ‘cute’, I think the paint palette itself is handsome. I received the green set. It also comes in yellow, blue and pink. The bird is painted on the lid, not a sticker.
The palette is a mix of metal and plastic. The lid and mixing tray are metal. The palette holding the paints is plastic.
The mixing tray folds under the palette rather than over. I like that, myself. It means if you have wet paint on the tray it gets on the bottom of the palette, where it can easily be wiped clean, instead of running into the paints.
Miya Arts calls these paints ‘solid’ watercolors. Here in the U.S. they are called ‘pan’ paints and, in some places, they are called ‘cake’. It simply means watercolor that has been poured into the wells of the palette and allowed to dry to a solid state, rather than being sold in tubes. In this set, the paint is poured directly into the palette. I prefer the paints to be in separate pans so that you can easily pop them them out and move them around. But that does add expense, so I find it a minor inconvenience.
Sometimes solid watercolors will shrink, and when that happens, they can fall out of the palette. Strangely, that usually occurs with more expensive sets because they are using real minerals for pigments. I’ve had this set for well over a month now, which would be plenty of time for the problem to occur. It hasn’t – all the pans are secure in the palette.
(Note for beginners: It is common for pans to be shaken loose from shipping, when you first get a palette. As you use them, most will settle in and stop falling out. )
The 18 colors included are White, Lemon Yellow, Medium Yellow, Earth Yellow, Orange, Red, Peach, Dark Red, Tehran, Purple, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Yellow & Green, Green, Tree Green, Burnt Umber, Adai Umber and Black.
There is no pigment index or information. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect these are dye-based rather than pigment-based paints. That is common for sets in this price range. This lessens the need for additives, which are often used in cheap pigments, and it gives you a more even transparency, consistency and performance. It also means you lose some characteristics such as granulation and the colors are not archival.
The set comes with a carrying case, a waterbrush and six sheets of watercolor paper that are approximately 4.75 x 2.25 inches in size.
The case is molded plastic, though the top looks and feels like metal. I think it is what we call ‘pot metal’ locally, meaning it’s a cheap blend of metals. It all feels sturdy. It has a handle for easy carry. The lid doesn’t have any locking mechanism, but snaps on tightly. I shook the case with some force and the lid stayed on. It comes off easily when pulled though.
One oddity – the green of the paint palette and the green of the case aren’t quite the same. Probably because one is plastic and one is metal. The color is close enough to count for horse shoes and hand grenades.
The palette and the paper fit into the case. Unfortunately, the waterbrush is too wide and you can’t snap the lid shut, even with the lid off. You can sit the brush in the open case while painting, though. A small pen would fit in the closed case, and I found that some of my smaller travel brushes fit.
The watercolor paper comes in an envelope. They are sized to fit perfectly in the lid of the paint palette, so you can use it as an easel while painting. This is particularly handy for on-the-go painting. Once you’ve used up the paper that comes with the set, it would be easy enough to cut more to size, if you like painting so small. They make nice bookmarks or tags.
The waterbrush is pretty standard. I’ll be truthful and tell you that I don’t care for waterbrushes. The plastic bristles limit your strokes, and it is hard to control the amount of water you are using. But, I’ll admit, for urban sketching and other plein air painting or traveling, it’s nice to have your water source right in the brush.
My first impression of this set was ‘How Cute!’ But cute only goes so far (and for some of you, I’m sure it’s a downside). How do the paint, paper and brush perform?
Miya Watercolor – Performance
On the Amazon website, Miya makes this claim: “Our watercolor paints are professional and the colors are beautiful, they are easy to mix and apply. Bright color, high saturation, smooth hand feeling, easy to melt, fast drying, durable, no fading.”
I had to think about this statement. I believe it describes the set well, but not always in terms, I easily recognized. Here is how I would have written that statement based on what I discovered in using the paints. (Note: I may be wrong in my interpretation of the statement and it is in no way official. I’m just rewriting to say this is what I found to be true in my experience).
“These watercolor paints are professionally-made and the colors are beautiful, they are easy to mix and apply. Bright color, high saturation, giving smooth washes, easily re-wet, fast drying, durable, no color shift.”
To explain my changes:
- ‘professional’ to ‘professionally-made. By its very nature, a set made for children would not be a professional set.
- ‘smooth hand feeling’ to ‘giving smooth washes’. None of the paints *granulate and they don’t easily streak. The paint flows nicely. *granulate – a pebbly or mottled effect that some paints have once dry
- ‘easy to melt’ to ‘easily re-wet’. With just a little water, the top of the ‘cake’ turns liquid.
- ‘no fading’ to ‘no color shift’ Most watercolors lighten as they dry (even the most professional – it’s the nature of natural pigments). A few colors darken. The other meaning of ‘no fading’ would be that the paints are archival. I would not expect that from a children’s set or any set that only cost around $20.
Miya watercolor wets easily, almost immediately, and always to the same consistency, no matter how much water you use. You don’t have to worry so much about how much water to use – definitely a plus when using a waterbrush. The paints re-dry quickly even if you’ve created quite a puddle. Easy to re-wet, quick to re-dry – that’s good if you’re on the move while painting. You don’t have to worry much about drips or paints running together.
The colors are bright, transparent, and have a good range of bold, modern and earth colors. The paper is good allowing some fussing before there is damage, and it has a nice texture. I had sets with more intense color. For myself, I prefer a set like this that has bright color, but can also be used for muted effects.
This is the painting I did in the video. I used masking fluid, masking tape, pen and did some lifting and repainting. The texture is a bit rough for pen, but ink covered well even after painting, and the lines are dark. The nibs didn’t catch or drag on the paper.
Color lifts decently while still wet, but once dry, the color just gets ugly rather than lifting off the paper. It actually did better than I suspected it would, though.
Overall, I’d call this student grade paper, but good student grade.
I used the waterbrush for the paintings above but felt it limited me severely – and as I mentioned before, I feel that’s a fault with all waterbrushes.
So how does the paint and paper perform with different brushes?
This was done on the back of the lizard painting. I used a soft quill brush, and was able to get much looser strokes and a more even coverage.
What about different paper?
I used a rough textured paper for the turtle and a medium soft brush. For the alebrije mongoose, I used a cold-press paper and a stiff brush. These were both line and wash – I used a pen drawing under the watercolor. For the trees, I used a hot-press paper and a very soft brush.
Colors were chosen in each to show the range that could be achieved and that the paints worked well going from detailed to a very loose-style landscape.
The MIYA Solid Water Colors Palette is a children’s set with 18 colors, a waterbrush, six bookmark sized sheets of watercolor and a carrying case that will be ‘Cute as a bug’ for some, and ‘Too darn cute’ for others. The whole set is a great size for carry but the waterbrush doesn’t fit in the closed case.
The palette and case are both a mix of plastic and metal. The 18 colors are well-chosen, allowing for a wide range of subject and feel. The paper is good student grade and the waterbrush is a standard waterbrush. If you use a better brush, you are able to get a wide range of effects.
No, not the set for your great, museum quality art, and not even for your truly serious work. But for fun, practice, sketches, plein air, coloring book, journaling and on the go, it’s a fantastic buy for around $20 USD. Of course, that’s assuming the kids don’t steal it away and keep it for themselves!
- MIYA Solid Water Colors Palette – 18 colors
- Pebeo Drawing Gum High Precision Masking Fluid Marker Pen 0.7mm
- Hahnemühle Watercolor Cards 230gsm Cold Pressed 4×5.75 Inches
- Hahnemühle Watercolor Cards 230gsm Rough 4×5.75 Inches
- Paul Rubens Watercolor Paper Block, Premium Leather Cover Hot Pressed Paper Block
- Princeton Artist Brush Neptune, Brushes for Watercolor Series 4750, Quill Synthetic Squirrel, Size 4
- Princeton Velvetouch, Mixed-Media Brushes for Acrylic, Oil, Watercolor Series 3950, 4-Piece Professional Set
- Princeton Aqua Elite, Series 4850 Oval Wash 1/2 in
Miya Arts gave me a coupon to purchase this watercolor set for the purpose of a review. I received no other considerations, though this post contains affiliate links which help support Doodlewash community features. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
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