ZenART has released four new cake (aka pan) watercolor sets — the Espresso, the Allegro, the Sereno and the Prezioso. Today, I’m reviewing the ZenART Allegro set.
ZenART Allegro Palette Video
The set has 24 colors, two brushes, a sponge, and room for mixing colors, all in a beautifully decorated box with hinges and clasp.
The photo above shows the bottom of the box. Every bit of this palette is lovely to look at and sets the tone for creativity.
The clasp and hinges are metal. They are lightweight, but well-aligned, the parts moving easily.
There is no attached fold-out for mixing, but there is a plastic insert to protect your paints, and I like to mix color on it as well.
One of the brushes is a faux sable flat, size 3 and the other is a water brush.
I took this photo after I’d been painting for a while, so you can see the bristles do stain. For a set at this price point, these are good brushes. There was no shedding, no bent bristles, and the ferrule on the faux sable was well-fitted.
The faux sable flat is a good all-around size, unless you paint very large. It doesn’t hold a great deal of water — about what I’d expect for a synthetic brush in this kind of set. It’s the right stiffness for a sable-type brush. It’s good for small to medium sized washes, swirly strokes and the corners are just right for getting into small corners.
The water brush has polyester bristles. I’ve had no leaking (I HATE when drops of water unexpectedly fall while I’m using a brush!). The tip comes to an exceptional point and it’s easy to control the flow of water. So easy that you can use it to moisten your paints just a little or a lot. It can serve as a source of water for short plein air (outside painting) sessions.
Overall, I’m not a water brush fan, but I like this one. I hope ZenART will sell them separately in the future.
The set also comes with a synthetic sponge, a plastic insert, and a pre-printed color chart for you to paint and keep for identification.
The chart is really nice, fitting neatly inside the set. It’s on decent paper, so you can get a good swatch of the color
The box also has a color chart on the back so, if you store the set in it, you can easily identify the colors in the set. That’s very handy when you have as many sets as I do, lol.
The paint cakes are set directly into a molded plastic insert rather than individual plastic pans. Compared to other sets with 24 paints and 2 brushes, the price of this set is lower than most. I suspect eliminating the individual pans help keeps the price down. The cakes look a bit smaller, but I don’t think they are. I pulled one out and compared it to other brands, and they looked about the same, side by side.
The cakes will not be available as individual paints. Selling them only in sets also helps keeps the price down.
The paints don’t come out of the tray easily. I held the box upside down and shook, and not one cake came out.
The molded plastic inserts are fairly flimsy, but I think that if they are kept in the palette box they’ll hold up to normal wear and tear.
The palette box itself is very light, which makes it nice for travel. I made a point of tossing it around and shoving it in with a bunch of other stuff over the past few weeks. I carried it in my purse for a week — that’s a test for anything, lol. I didn’t really slam it or do anything violent, but I treated it carelessly to see how it held up. There were no scratches, chips or dents. Overtime, it may pick up a few of these, but I think it will stay serviceable.
Even though a pre-printed chart comes with the set, I did a separate chart of my own because I wanted to show opacity, as well as the color at both masstone (the darkest it can get) and tint (lightened almost to white).
This is a student-grade set, so the colors are more opaque than then you would get with a professional set. That said, you can control the opacity with the amount of water. I played with layering the colors and only a couple of them ever got chalky, and only after several layers of color.
When the Allegro and the Sereno watercolor sets were being developed, thought was given to the psychology of colors, the mood, and mental well-being of the artist. As a result, the ZenART Allegro set has warmer colors that appeal to sunny and outgoing natures, while the Sereno set has cooler colors that are calm and serene.
I think I must be more calm and serene, as I was hoping I would get the Sereno set, because — purples! But, I do like the Allegro set, which has more yellows, oranges, and reds.
There is a concept in art about the temperatures of color — that those that lean to yellow and red are warm, and those that lean to blue are cool. It is very subjective because some reds are and yellows are warmer than other; some blues are cooler than others.
Temperature can make a difference to your color mixes. You get different results when you mix a warm color and a cool color than when you mix two warms or two cools.
I mention this because these sets are called ‘warm’ and ‘cool’, and that might get confusing. For instance, the warm Allegro set has both warm and cool reds, but overall it has more reds than the Sereno set. The ‘warm’ refers to both the temperature and the mood of the colors.
Unless you are an advanced watercolorist, who uses temperature specifically, it’s probably best to just think of the Allegro set as bright and happy and the Sereno set as calm and serene, knowing either will give clean, beautiful color mixes.
If you are someone who paints for therapy, you might want to visit the ZenArt website to look more closely at both sets. If you’re someone like me, who just finds the idea interesting, these are great sets to play around with.
ZenART Allegro Watercolor Examples
The flat in this set holds a moderate amount of water, but I wanted really juicy paint for my first example. I used a ZenART Black Tulip Round that holds more water, and I added enough water to the paper so that there were puddles.
What I wanted to see was how the colors flowed, and how bright the colors would be after they dried. They flowed nicely, expanding but not wildly. The colors stayed bright and they worked together side by side, creating a glow in many places.
The colors aren’t staining, but they only lift moderately well.
For my second example, I layered the colors in the background, using as little water as I could to see if it would get chalky. With this and other paintings I did later, I found that a couple of the colors could get chalky, but most of them did not, and I was still able to capture that glow.
This Pike was done using both the flat brush and watercolor brush from the set.
With my last example, my paint was mixed to be juicy, but I painted on dry paper. This allowed me to get great tints that worked well for shading white. I also used some of the earth colors that are in the set. They aren’t as eye-catching as the brighter colors, but work well for animal paintings.
I used the flat brush only for this last painting, and it was great for creating both the texture of the fur and the softly blended background. I used the corner of the brush tip for the smaller detail.
Usually, I don’t name the actual prices of items that I review, because it can differ depending where you are, and over time. But, at the time of this review, the set is selling for $19.95 which is a great price for 24 colors, 2 brushes, and a beautifully painted palette.
The ZenART name comes from the Zen philosophy, acknowledging that painting, drawing and journaling are great ways to release stress and anxiety. ZenART conforms to the highest international certification standards, and all their paints are non-toxic.
ZenART Allegro Palette Travel Watercolor Paint Set 24 Warm Colors
ZenART Black Tulip Watercolor Brush Set
ZenART Miniature Paint Brushes for Detailing
Hahnemühle Cold-Pressed Watercolour Postcards
Strathmore 140-205 Ready Cut Watercolor, Cold Press, 5″ x 7″, White, 25 Sheets
I was given this ZenART Allegro Watercolor set for purposes of this 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.