QoR Watercolor Products - Doodlewash

QoR WATERCOLOR REVIEW: QoR Mini Palette, Watercolor Grounds, And More!

QoR Watercolor is produced by Golden Artist Colors, Inc., an employee-owned company that produces a wide range of acrylics, oils, mediums, varnishes and … wait for it … watercolors. For this review, Golden sent me a large selection of QoR Watercolors including: a QoR Mini Palette, three different QoR Watercolor Grounds, Lift Aid, Masking Fluid and a tube of Permanent Scarlet and Quinacridone Gold Deep. Oh, I had fun this month!

QoR Watercolor Review QoR Grounds Masking Fluid

Before I get into the Mini Palette specifically, let me talk a little about QoR watercolor in general. QoR is pronounced ‘core’ and yes, the brand is spelled with a capital ‘R’ at the end.

Introduction To QoR Watercolor

Amazing research went into making these watercolors. Aquazol, a product common in the conservation field, is used as the binder.

If you are like me, you nod at this point, and then say – “But what difference does that make?” I’ve been using them since they came out in 2014, and this is what I’ve noticed:

  • When dried, the paints re-wet immediately with no need to pre-moisten
  • The colors all dry to same consistency (at least among the 40-50 colors that I’ve tried)
  • The colors are intense
  • The dark-to-lighter color shift is less than I’ve found with most brands.

Did I mention the colors are intense? If you prefer lower key colors, they might be too intense for you.

They dry to a smooth consistency that makes them great in a palette. They re-wet instantly, flowing smoothly, as though fresh from the tube.

With 83 colors to choose from, my main complaint is that I can’t afford all 83 colors.

QoR Mini Palette

QoR Mini Watercolor Palette

Until recently, QoR watercolor has only been available in 11 ml tubes or sets with 5 ml tubes. Earlier this year, the QoR Mini half-pan set was introduced.

The Mini comes with 12 half-pans:

  • Cadmium Yellow Primrose – PY35
  • Nickel Azo Yellow – PY150
  • Transparent Pyrrole Orange – P071
  • Pyrrole Red Medium – PR254
  • Quinacridone Magenta – PR122
  • Dioxazine Purple – PV23
  • Ultramarine Blue – PB29
  • Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) – PB15: 3
  • Sap Green – PG36/PR101/PY150
  • Paynes Gray – PB15:3/PBk7/PV19
  • Transparent Brown Oxide – PR101
  • Burnt Umber (Natural) – Pbr7

What did I first notice about the paints?

The pans were full, the paint curving up above the top of the pan. They seem to be dried hard and one paint had come out of its pan. I was a little worried that these paints were formulated differently from the tubes. That is true with some brands.

My worries were over as soon as I started using the paint. I decided to pre-moisten and gave the paints a good spritz with the water bottle. They splattered! From brand-new dry to one spritz of water and they were wet enough to splatter. With most brands, I have to spritz or drop water in and let them set for a second or two. After this, I’ve just swiped a wet brush over the top and that’s enough to start painting.

After I finished the above video, and the paints had dried again, I checked to see if any of the paints were still loose. They were not. I even closed the lid, shook the pan and checked to see if any fell out. They didn’t.

What did I note about the tin?

It fits in my hand (I have small hands).

QoR Mini Size Example

The tin is just slightly deeper than the pans themselves. This means it is easy to reach the paints and you can pick up color with the side of the brush. You get a better load of paint and it’s easier on the brushes.

Those bumps on the lid, which are present in all the QoR sets, turn out to be mixing wells on the inside. What’s new is the silicone mixing area between the half-pans. Silicone is non-staining so this area cleans up very nicely.

My palette looks like this after about three weeks of heavy use – lots of highly-staining phthalo blue and quinacridone rose, but it all cleans up except for the incised ‘QoR’ and the alphabetical characters under each pan.

QoR Mini Palette Interior View

Speaking of the alphabet. A blank chart is included so you can swatch the colors. The alphabetical colors incised beneath each pan is also printed on the chart so you can match the colors later.

QoR Mini Palette Swatches - Included Colors

In the initial run, of the mini set, there were some tins that came with two burnt umbers instead of a burnt umber and a transparent brown oxide. Golden is noted for their customer service. They recognized the problem, and set up a contact page and phone number for people who received one of these sets. The problem only occurred in the first run.

Transparent Pyrrole Orange is one of my favorite colors so I chose to make that the focus of my example painting.

Qor Watercolor Painting Example by Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

QoR Lift Aid

QoR Watercolor Lift Aid Photo

If you’ve ever tried to lift color from your painting once it’s dry, you probably know why Lift Aid is a good idea. You paint on the Lift Aid before you start painting, much as you with masking fluid. After the paint has dried, you run a wet brush over the area to lift some or all of the color. You repeat this until you reach the level of whiteness desired.

The paper matters. If the paper is sized for easy lifting, Lift Aid helps a bit, but mostly with staining colors like Phthalo Blue and Quinacridone Rose. With papers that don’t allow easy lift, Lift Aid can make a noticeable difference.

I tried several papers. I was never able to get all the way back to white but I’d say I got to 80% in some cases.

Lifting can damage the paper, and Lift Aid does help prevent that.

There is always a trade-off with these things. If you use Lift Aid over a large area, washes may be splotchy. Again, I found that the paper matters.

QoR Watercolor with and with Lift Aid Example

This is a paper that does allow easy lifting. I could get close to the same amount of white whether I used Lift Aid or not, but there was quite a bit more damage where I didn’t use Lift Aid.

QoR Watercolor Lift Aid Example Painting by Sandra Strait

If you are unsatisfied with the way color lifts on your paper, then Lift Aid may be the thing for you.

QoR Watercolor: Grounds

QoR Watercolor Image of All Three Available Grounds

I used all three grounds to paint tin lids. Dollar Tree has these kid’s puzzles that come in a tin so I bought up a bunch. I also had some mini-Altoids and pencil tins. Have I mentioned that I’ve had fun this month?

Despite the name, watercolor ground, I’ve never found a ground that acts like real watercolor paper. Colors are more opaque, lighter, and lift more easily so that it is difficult to glaze. Blooms and drips are easy to achieve. But you CAN use watercolor and get cool effects on non-traditional surfaces, such as wood, metal and canvas. I’ve even used it to paint over areas in my watercolor paintings that were messed up. It looks different than the rest of painting but does improve the mess.

You can use spatulas, foam brushes, Popsicle sticks and similar tools to spread the ground over your chosen surface.

In all these ways, I found the QoR grounds to be standard. Each of the three creates a distinct surface and depending on the tools you use, you can get different effects.

Light Dimensional Ground

QoR Watercolor Light Dimensional Ground Painting Example - Doodlewash

Ever frosted a cake? I had fun with Qor Watecolor Light Dimensional Ground, frosting my tin lid, whipping up curves and smoothing them out to create an entirely different look. I finally settled on something that made me think of ocean waves, my frothy look at the bottom allowing color from the tin to show through.

Color is dull, but you can glaze layers to deepen it and can get some amazing textural effects.

Once dry, the surface is slightly spongy. I deliberately poked at mine until I managed to scratch it. I do like trying to destroy things! The Light Dimensional ground isn’t a delicate surface, but I wouldn’t use it for something I carry around.

Watercolor Ground

QoR Watercolor Ground Example Painting Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

The QoR Watercolor Ground creates the smoothest surface. When wet, it’s slightly tacky, so when you lift your tool you leave a slightly raised area. With a tool large enough to cover the entire surface, you could get a completely flat surface. With smaller tools, you can get a fairly flat surface.

Compared to the other grounds, you get brighter colors and better detail. Not as much as you would get with actual watercolor paper, though. Waterproof pen works fine, though the lines won’t be crisp.

I had to practice until I figured out the water/paint ratio for the effects I wanted. Fortunately, I discovered it is easy enough to wash off the color while it is still wet and start over.

Cold Pressed Ground

QoR Cold Pressed Ground Painting Example - Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

As the name implies, the Qor Watercolor Cold Pressed Ground has a tooth similar to cold press paper. Color is brighter than the Light Dimensional but duller than the Watercolor ground. The water/paint ratio works about the same as the Watercolor ground.

It’s easy to get an even surface, but it has the gritty look and feel of cold-pressed paper.

Each of these grounds has its own appeal. I’m a watercolor tin palette addict and I love making my own. I’m glad I have all three grounds, giving me plenty of options for decorating tins. They make great little gifts too!

QoR Watercolor: Masking Fluid

QoR Watercolor Masking Fluid Image - Doodlewash

Like many masking fluids, QoR Watercolor Masking Fluid does contain natural rubber latex, and could cause an allergic reaction. It has a strong ammonia smell and takes quite a while to dry. I wait anywhere from 4-12 hours, depending on the humidity.

Additionally, some papers don’t handle masking fluid well, and you should always test before using it for something serious. See what I did below. Testing doesn’t have to be boring!

The color of the fluid is an off-white. It’s different enough that I had no problem seeing it while I painted and it didn’t interfere with my colors like some of the tinted fluids do. The fluid spread easily, and I could create quite thin lines using the beveled edge of a brush.

I had no trouble removing it on any of the papers I tried, just using my fingers to do so (though I don’t recommend that – you get oils from your skin on the paper).

QoR Watercolor Painting Example Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

QoR Watercolor: Permanent Scarlet and Quinacridone Deep

When asked if I wanted any tubes of paint, I asked for Permanent Scarlet and Quinacridone Deep (even though I desperately wanted to say – all of them. I want all of them! You can find Jessica Seacrest’s review of tubes and watercolor sets here)

QoR Watercolor Permanent Scarlet Example

I’ll be truthful. I got involved playing with all my other goodies and as I was sitting down to write this, I realized I’d forgot about these two! I did a quick swatch and painting, and I think I chose well for what I wanted.

I was hoping for colors that I could use for steampunk-themed work, some flesh tones (a bit exaggerated for realistic work, but good for what I have in mind) and a good range of pinks to reds.

QoR Watercolor Painting by Sandra Strait - Doodlewash

I got ’em all.


Golden Artist Colors, Inc. sent me all of the QoR products above for purposes of a review. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended10 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

53 thoughts on “QoR WATERCOLOR REVIEW: QoR Mini Palette, Watercolor Grounds, And More!

  1. I really enjoyed your thorough reviews, Sandra! Well done! I totally agree with what you said about the Qor mini. Great little set of vibrant colours and VERY easy to re-wet!

    As a fellow travel tin palette addict, I will have to give the ground a go. I have the watercolour ground but haven’t had a chance to use it yet. I know what my first project with it will be! 🙂

  2. After Jessica Seacrest’s review of QoR tube watercolors, I ordered a set of 24 tubes, which include permanent scarlet and quin gold (but not the quin gold deep.) I painted an 18″ x 24″ bird number chart for my 2-year-old grandchild. (She loves it but has no opinion about the quality of the paint.) I adore the tube colors as they saturate deeply and the colors are gorgeous. They allowed for some fun color applications. Shout out to Jessica, every bit as good as she said.

    Sandra, your review has me running (soon as I turn off the computer) to get puzzle tins from the Dollar Store. If I’m successful, I’ll get the QoR watercolor ground, prep the tins, and give them to my older grandchildren to see what they come up with. If they like the project, I’ll get more tins for a Girl Scout project later in the year – what a lovely gift for the girls to make for parents. Did I mention how much kids love to paint? And I plan to make some for me too. Who doesn’t need a tin or two?

    Will probably try the masking fluid also and maybe the Lift Aid.

    I love how you play with your paints, giving me ideas. Out here in Wee Budget Land, it helps if someone else has reviewed a product before I buy it. Shout out to you!

  3. Sandra, great review, thank you! I absolutely adore QOR. I think it may end up my favorite watercolor. I ordered the Qor mini at least 2months so and it went on backorder at Blick.
    Idon’t have it yet.

    1. Thank you, Karen! I know the mini has been flying off the shelves and stores have trouble keeping it in stock. I’ve seen a few listings lately so hopefully that means yours will be arriving soon!

  4. Wow! Sandra, you really gave us a lot of information. I have a couple of friends who always travel with small tins of watercolors, a water brush and small wc papers. This paint looks terrific. Is the color lift bleach? I wouldn’t want to use it if it lifted colors if spilled… I love how you covered the tins with your watercolorings. Nice presentation!

    1. Thank you, Pamitha! Lift Aid isn’t a bleach – you use it before you paint and area and it makes it easier to lift the color once it dries. You can use it over a painted area before layering another color, and then lift the second color to show more of the first. Always test first – this would work better with some papers and paints than with others.

  5. Seriously Sandra, thanks for this review. I’ve watched you use grounds before but never saw the appeal. NOW I get it. I could use this on canvas then use my watercolors instead of trying to learn a whole new media in acrylics! Thank you, now I GET IT. Great review and once again, I WANT THAT DANM MINI PALETTE, as if I need more paint! hahhaha

  6. Awesome review!!! Thanks so much, Sandra! I’ve been curious about them and picked up tubes of cobalt teal and cobalt green before leaving for vacation — they were on clearance as the store isn’t going to carry them anymore (what!!?) — haven’t had a chance to try them dried in pans but those colors are notorious for being hard to rewet so should be a good test! The colors were beautiful! And I’m a tin addict too, thanks for the puzzle tin idea!!!

    1. Thank you, Lisa! I do know that environment can make a difference, but I’ve never had any problem rewetting any of the QoR colors that I own. Their consistency has been one of the things I liked most about them. They’ve always dried flat in the pan and rewet instantly. If you have a different experience, please let me know. I like to keep track of brands that do react greatly in different environments.

  7. Fabulous review Sandra! I love my QoR paints, and want to try more of their colours. I have one mini-tin of the tubes, plus I ordered a few more. The swoosh is fabulous. I’ve learned some new things, too, as the Lift Aid is something I’d not heard about before your article. Thanks so much!

  8. Hi Sandra! I’m back from vacation and the pans were sitting out on my desk drying for a week. It’s been in the 100’s here — the air conditioner is set on 81 but the office where my desk is gets up to 85 most days — and I’m super happy to report that they rewet just fine!!! YEAH!!!! I ordered the mini set so I could try them outside and will report back — cannot wait!!

  9. Hello! I wanted to ask a question about your experience with QOR’s dioxazine purple– I got a tube with their high chroma set and I was really disappointed to discover that while it is a brilliant purple when wet, it dries relatively dull and desaturated. I’ve been trying to look up swatches of the same paint and it doesn’t seem like anyone else is having the same problem. Does your tube dry noticeably different than it looked while wet?

    1. Sam, I apologize for not answering earlier. I don’t get notifications, and just now saw your question. I can’t say that I have noticed QoR’s dioxazine purple as having more color shift or being more dull than other brands I’ve used and I’ve come to expect quite a bit. However, I’ve heard this complaint on a couple of QoR’s colors before. Even though I haven’t had the problem myself, I’ve seen enough complaints to believe it. I’m suspecting it’s a difference in the techniques that people use or possibly size – i.e. I paint smaller works, and it may be more noticeable when someone is painting large.

  10. Hi Sandra, I’m glad to read this review. I have the Qor introductory set now. I already had 1 Qor tube paint, but now I was looking for reviews and recommendations about putting them in pans or not. (Some very reliable (imho) youtubers say that the paint loses its vibrancy when you put it in pans), but here I read (and I consider this also as a very reliable source) that it does not affect the paint.
    I must confess… tins… I love them too. I have to stop buying them. There’s something about tins (and little boxes…)

    1. Thank you, Heidi! I certainly haven’t noticed the paint (of any brand) as losing vibrancy when put into pans. However, this is an ongoing argument that is as old as watercolor itself. Many argue that you must have color freshly squeezed from the tube and the other side argues that it doesn’t matter. I do know that with some brands, a pan is likely to have more additives to keep it solid, and therefore the color will be less vibrant. Some pigments (not necessarily brand related – more to do with the minerals used to create the color) are difficult to rewet and are better from the tube. I think with pans, it can be harder to judge your water/paint ratio. With fresh paint from the tube, the color is in a glob and you can more easily judge how much paint you are mixing into your water. With pans, you must run the brush over a flat surface and it is harder to tell how much paint is on your brush. In the long run, it’s a preference and I think you learn how best to use one or the other. I’ve just started using gouache, and I’m leaning towards fresh for it but I think I’ll always prefer pan for watercolor.

  11. Thanks for replying, Sandra. I usually buy tubes and put them in pans. So far I never had problems. Indeed, the mineral (primateks and other handmade watercolorrs with minerals, are known to a certain extend – some more some less – that they rewet more diff. but I don’t have those in tubes (although I have them… I remember now, from Sennelier, but I didn’t use them, shame).
    As for my question on Qor I found an interesting article from Cathy Jennings, a GOLDEN Materials Specialist. This is OK for me 🙂

  12. Oh, by the way, I almost always use full pans and fill them on the left side – I am right handed ( I put them a bit slant to dry) so that my brush has enough room / space to move. And in the empty side I put some drops of water to rewet the paint.
    I find this – for me – easy 🙂

    1. That’s a great method for rewetting the paint. I have so many different types of palettes that I’ve collected or made. I use a syringe and add a bit of water to the colors I intend to use shortly before I start painting – that works for any type of palette.

Leave Me A Comment!

%d bloggers like this: