Wednesday, 28 April 2021

New Colours from Schmincke

Granulation is one of the characteristics of some pigments that is best seen in watercolour. You may not notice it in oils or acrylics, and certainly not in pastels and pencils. However in watercolour, granulation is a fabulous characteristic to explore. It is also very important since watercolour is basically a 2-dimensional or flat medium, so granulation is a way of adding texture to the wash.

Granulating pigments show their true nature best on damp cold pressed or rough paper though they will tend to granulate to some degree on any paper. For those new to watercolour, it may look as though something is wrong!

Some of the most granulating pigments have been used to create the 25 new mixes from Schmincke - some released in 2020 and some this year. They are available in boxed sets or individual tubes.

The full range of 25 have been made from quite a limited number of granulating pigments. You can see all the colours used to create them in my blog post here - it may be useful to have that open side-by side on your computer screen.

There are five colours in the newest 'Forest' set. The most useful and realistic greens are often created using two or three pigments so these might be useful colours in foliage paintings. 

Forest Olive contains Viridian, a PBr7, in this case probably Green Umber, and Yellow Ochre, which is interesting as there isn't a PY43 Yellow Ochre in the Schmincke range. 

Forest Green contains Cobalt Green and the brown pigment used in the colour Mahogany Brown (It was also used in the old colour Walnut Brown, which was darker.) 

Forest Blue contains Cobalt Green Turquoise (or possibly Cobalt Cerulean) and the Mars Black pigment. Forest Brown contents Cobalt Green Dark, Cobalt Turquoise and Yellow Ochre.

Forest Brown is not as brown as Forest Olive, and contains the stronger tinting Cobalt Green Dark, a PBr7 earth pigment and Yellow Ochre. 

Forest Grey contains a brown earth pigment along with Cobalt Turquoise and Mars Black.

Schmincke Watercolours - Forest Olive, Forest Green, Forest Blue,
Forest Brown and Forest Grey

There are five colours in the Deep Sea set. Deep Sea Violet is made from French Ultramarine and PBr33, which is used in Mahogany Brown and the Daniel Smith colour Lunar Earth. It is a fantastic pigment that creates gorgeous texture. 

Deep Sea Blue is made using Cobalt Green pigment, Manganese Violet and French Ultramarine. 

Deep Sea Indigo is made from Viridian and PV62, which I haven't seen as a colour though it makes a lovely granulating violet-blue here. The greens and violet don't show up much in my little dot sample. 

Deep Sea Green uses Viridian and French Ultramarine to create this granulating turquoise. 

Deep Sea Black uses the incredibly granulating PBk11 (used in Schmincke Mars Black and Daniel Smith Lunar Black amongst others) with Cobalt Blue Deep and Cerulean pigments (used in Cobalt Azure), to create this deep blue-grey with spots of black.

Schmincke Watercolours - Deep Sea Violet, Deep Sea Indigo, Deep Sea Blue, Deep Sea Green, 
Deep Sea Black.

The Glacier set of 5 does evoke the cool depths of frozen water. Glacier Blue is made with the same pigments as Galaxy Blue, but the other way around - more blue this time. It isn't obvious that the PG50 is doing anything as it is very like French Ultramarine. 

Glacier Turquoise has an intriguing mix of cobalt green and Manganese Violet. A green and a violet can make a blue - as you can see. 

Glacier Green has particles of Potter's Pink floating in a sea of Cobalt Green. 

Glacier Brown has particles of Cobalt Green Dark mixed into the granulating brown oxide. 

Glacer Black has cerulean (Cobalt Azure) mixed into the Mars Black this time for a cooler black.

Schmincke Watercolours - Glacier Blue, Glacier Turquoise, Glacier Green, Glacier Brown, Glacier Black.

The set of 5 Galaxy colours includes Galaxy Violet, made from Potter's Pink and French Ultramarine, creating a rich granulating red-purple. 

Galaxy Pink is made with Manganese Violet and the mahogany brown pigment. 

Galaxy Blue is more subtle - like Deep Sea Blue without the violet. 

Galaxy Brown has specks of violet in the granulating oxide brown. 

Galaxy Black is a mix of French Ultramarine and Mars Black.

Schmincke Watercolours - Galaxy Pink, Galaxy Violet, Galaxy Blue, Galaxy Brown, Galaxy Black.

The set of 5 Tundra colours have some interesting mixes. Tundra Orange contains Yellow Ochre, Potter's Pink and an earth brown - possibly burnt Sienna this time.

Tundra Pink is a granulating violet made with Ultramarine and Potter's Pink. 

Tundra Violet is a dark grey-violet due to the reddish Mars Brown pigment mixed with Ultramarine.

Tundra Blue has a small amount of a brown earth mixed with Ultramarine.

Tundra Green is the Mars Brown mixed with Cobalt Green.

Schmincke Watercolours - Tundra Orange, Tundra Pink, Tundra Violet, Tundra blue and Tundra Green

Often, when making colours, manufacturers are producing 'hues' and blending the pigments into new compounds that effectively behave like a single pigment. Mixtures like these are intended to keep the different pigments in the mix separate, so they can each contribute to the liveliness of the colour. What is interesting is that the mixtures in tubes may behave differently from the mixtures of the same pigments then mixed in your palette in your own studio.

I certainly wouldn't suggest this whole range is necessary, but some granulating watercolour mixtures can be really lovely to explore in watercolour painting. 

Monday, 8 March 2021

White Nights 2019 full range, with 2020 and 2021 updates

White Nights, also known as St Petersburg, has been one of the many generous sponsors of the Urban Sketchers Symposium for the last few years now. They have been expanding their range, moving from just full pans to the addition of 10ml tubes for many colours, and expanding their range with 9 extra colours in 2017 and another 9 new colours in 2019. They have also added 7 metallics. I am grateful that they have given me samples to try to keep up, though somehow Venetian Red slipped through the cracks.

The colours that were added increased the range to 75 colours and the new colours are mostly lightfast and largely single pigment additions. I've updated my previous post but decided to create a new post of the full range here, this time with most colours scanned rather than photographed, where possible.

These are very reasonably priced watercolours that perform well. Setting up with full pans is simple and gives easy brush access so they suit beginners, though of course many professional artist use them as well. They are made with genuine pigments though some feel to have some sort of filler? And some of the pigments are not lightfast, such as PY1, PV3, PR2, PR4, PO13, PG8 and others. As far as I know the colours with less lightfast ratings have remained in the range so do check pigment numbers if you are working on paintings for sale or exhibition. In a sketchbook, watercolours are protected from light.

I'll add the full 2019 range below.

March 2021 update - many more colours were added, and some changes so the full range now consists of 108 colours, including 18 pastel shades and 7 metallic. Many of the previous colours have been updated with more lightfast pigments, which is fantastic. With the addition of new colours to close the gaps and better pigments for greater light-fastness, this range has really improved dramatically over the last few years. While I haven't painted the new colours or the new versions, I'll update the information for each colour. Eventually I'll do a new blog post if I get new samples. You can see the colour chart too.

As always, yellows, oranges and reds are difficult to represent accurately. I've scanned all the swatches but I needed to use a couple of photos for better accuracy for the oranges. As I haven't yet found an updated colour chart, I've used my own system to arrange the colour swatches.

The new Aureolin gives an even better primary yellow option. 211 - Yellow (PY154) and has been added to the range, possibly replacing the fugitive 215 Hansa Yellow (PY1) which isn't on the new colour chart, but is not shown here.
White Nights Watercolour - Zinc White, Lemon, Cadmium Lemon,
Aureolin (new 2019), Hansa Yellow.

PY216 used in the new Naples Yellow Light and Naples Orange is also known as Turner's Yellow. I haven't seen the orange version before. Both are more opaque colours. I like the Indian Gold as a warm yellow option as it will mix interesting greens. Indian yellow is a very transparent mid yellow option. 206 - Ochre Light (PY43) has been added but is not shown here.
White Nights Watercolour - Indian Yellow (new 2017), Cadmium Yellow Medium,
Naples Yellow Light (new 2019), 
Indian Gold (new 2017), Naples Orange (new 2019).

It is difficult to capture the true colour of oranges and yellow-oranges.
White Nights Watercolour -Golden, Golden Deep, Cadmium Orange, Orange Lake,
Orange (new 2019)

Geranium Red is interesting as it looks like a warm red but has a rose undertone in a wash so I suspect it might mix purples too - I'll check that out.
White Nights Watercolour - Titan Red, Cadmium Red Light, Vermilion (Hue)
(Old version - now made with PR188 & PY154), Geranium Red (new 2019),
Scarlet (Old version - now called Scarlet Light and made with PR 188). 

368 Neon Pink (PR122, PV10) has been added but is not shown here.
White Nights Watercolour -Ruby, Madder Lake Red Light, Venice Purple (new 2019),
Claret, Carmine (Old version - now made with PV19, though this is referred to as PR19).

368 - Neon Pink (PR122& BV10) has been added but is not shown here. 627 - Perylene Violet (PV29) has also been added but is not shown here.
White Nights Watercolour - Quinacridone Red (new 2017),
Quinacridone Violet Rose (new 2017), Quinacridone Rose, Rose, Quinacridone Lilac. 

There are still some of the lovely but fugitive pigments in the range - PV2, PV3, PB1 seen here. Use with caution.
White Nights Watercolour -Violet-Rose, Quinacridone Violet (new 2017),
Ultramarine Violet (new 2017), 
Violet, Blue Lake.

521 - Ultramarine Deep (PB29) has been added but is not shown.
White Nights Watercolour - Indanthrone Blue, Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Azure,
Blue (New 2017).

PB36 used in Cobalt Azure Blue is my favourite choice for a cerulean pigment. A good addition to the range.
White Nights Watercolour - Bright Blue (Brilliant),
Indigo (Old version - now made with PBk7, PB15 & PV23), Prussian Blue,
Ceruleum Blue, 
Cobalt Azure Blue (new 2019). 

Cobalt Turquoise is an incredibly popular watercolour. 533- Cobalt Chrome Turquoise (PB36) has been added - often known as cobalt turquoise or cobalt turquoise deep.
White Nights Watercolour -Azure Blue, Cobalt Turquoise (new 2019),
Turquoise Blue, Green Light, Emerald Green.

White Nights Watercolour - Green Original, Yellowish Green, Sap Green (new 2017),
Green Earth, Olive Green.

I love yellow ochre as a colour but shy away from this mix with PY1. 257 Irgazin Yellow (PY129) has been added but is not shown here, along with 206 Ochre Light (PY43).
White Nights Watercolour - Chromium Oxide, Green (Russian), May Green (new 2019),
Yellow Ochre (old version - now made with PY43 & PY154), Naples Yellow.

White Nights Watercolour - Raw Sienna (Old version - now made with PY43) , Red Ochre,
Burnt Sienna, Shakhnazarskaya Red, English Red.

604 Caput Mortuum (PR101) has been added, but is not shown here. 401 Van Dyck Brown (PR102&PBk8) has also been added.
White Nights Watercolour - Venetian Red (New 2017, not shown), Burnt Umber,
 Mars Red, Umber, Sepia. 

Two new blacks are 801 Lamp Black (PBk7) and Ivory Black (Hue) P(R102 & PBk7)
White Nights Watercolour - Voronezhkaya Black (old version - now made with PBk8),
Payne's Grey (Old version - now made til PBk7, PB15 & PV55) Neutral Black. 

The 7 new metallic colours...
White Nights Watercolour - Silver Light, Inca Gold, Bronze, Aztec Gold. 

White Nights Watercolour - Antique Gold, Silver Deep, Copper. 

I haven't tried any of the 18 new pastel colours.

With all these new colours, my suggestions for a White Nights 12-colour plein air sketching palette has changed.

I'd look at Aureolin, Indian yellow, the new Scarlet Light or Geranium Red (I need to test that in mixes), Quinacridone Red, Ultramarine or the new French Ultramarine, Cobalt Azure Blue, Emerald Green (for mixing only), Sap Green, Raw Sienna or perhaps the new Ochre light, Burnt Sienna, English Red (or possibly Venetian Red - I haven't tried that one) and Payne's Grey. That would now be a lightfast set :-)

To match my Ultimate Mixing Set, the closest options are Aureolin, Indian Yellow, the new Scarlet Light, the new Carmine (not a perfect match), Quinacridone Red, Ultramarine, Cobalt Azure Blue, Bright Blue, Emerald Green, Raw Sienna (not a perfect match), Burnt Sienna, English Red (or possibly Venetian Red - not perfect matches), Umber (not very strong) and Paynes Grey (also not a perfect match)

More colours have been added to the White Nights range in 2020 - some pastel shades in particular. I haven't tested them yet. Here is a link to the colour chart.

Happy painting :-)

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Van Gogh watercolours.

When I was in Amsterdam for the Urban Sketchers Symposium in 2019, the faculty was taken on a fabulous tour of the Royal Talens factory. Royal Talens has been creating art materials since 1899. 

We also had the chance to 'play' with many of the products created there or under the Royal Talens umbrella - Sakura, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Bruynzeel, Ecoline and others.

I have shown many of the 120 colour professional Rembrandt watercolour range here, but we were given a dot card sampler of the Van Gogh student range. While I don't usually write about student ranges, as they don't have all the characteristics that I so enjoy about professional watercolours, I decided this one may be helpful since so much work went into producing it. However changes have been made in the formulations since this was produced so the latest product information is best seen on the website.

Van Gogh sample dot card 2019

Student ranges are often less-highly pigmented than professional ranges, and many contain more binders or fillers. While it as more difficult to get a strong wash with many of these colours, others painted out very nicely. 

Van Gogh student watercolours 2019

Van Gogh student watercolours 2019

The information on these charts was based on the dot-card, but some was incorrect. Dusk Yellow is PBk11/PY128, and the PBk101 pigments listed for the gold and metallics should be PBk11.
Van Gogh student watercolours 2019

Happy painting!

Monday, 22 February 2021

Etchr 24 half pan watercolour set

I have concentrated on artist quality watercolours, but occasionally there is a product in the student range that is worth exploring. I really like the Etchr watercolour sketchbooks and enjoy the innovation of this company. I have included their Mini Palette on my website. The Etchr watercolour set is described as a 'premium student' set. It was launched on Kickstarter and is now available through the Etchr Lab website.

Student sets often contain hues made up of mixes of cheaper pigments, so that each colour can be priced the same. They don't often contain a lot of single pigment colours and they often have a lesser pigment load so can be difficult to work with - weak or difficult to activate. This set has 20 single pigment colours, so when offered a set to try, I was very interested.

I was sent the boxed set with the palette, watercolour paper and felt-tip pens. The 24-colour half pan set comes with a printed colour chart you can fill out yourself. The half pans are wrapped with pigment information, lightfast ratings and a note about transparency. I found some of the pigments very surprising -  - some I haven't come across before, some are not usually found in a student range. The biggest surprise was the cadmium and cobalt pigments. These are usually only found in the series 3 or 4 professional ranges as they are expensive pigments. To see them in a student range is quite exceptional.

You can't buy individual colours or tubes, only the full set. But that can simplify the process of getting started with watercolours for some people. You can also very easily swap out a half pan with a different colour or a different brand, or refill an empty pan with tube colour later.

The set is well balanced around the colour wheel, with a warm and cool yellow, two oranges, three reds and a magenta, a purple, four blues, a turquoise (although it isn't a turquoise in my set, which I believe is a mistake), three greens and five earths. There is also a black and white - colours not necessarily used by professional watercolorists but very common in student sets. 

I found many of the transparency ratings odd, especially Simply Red, which is made with a cadmium red pigment so would normally be opaque, and Sky Blue, a phthalo blue which would normally be transparent. So I added a black line to the swatches before painting them and you can see how transparent or opaque each colour actually is by whether it covers this mark or not. Clearly, some of the ratings are incorrect - as you can see below. 

Etchr Watercolour set of 24 half pan colours

Transparency ratings aside, most colours painted out brightly and cleanly. I would consider renaming some of the earth colours to better represent what we see - Umber Brown is more of a Burnt Sienna hue and Burnt Sienna is more of a Burnt Umber Hue. I rearranged them in the palette and have painted them out in a more logical order.

This set is certainly worthy of the label Premium Student set. For more insight, watch my YouTube video painting out the full set to create this chart.

Happy Painting.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

CARAN D'ACHE Museum Watercolour Pencils

Caran D'Ache create a number of different ranges of pencils, pens, fountain pens, crayons and other art and office materials. While I own a few of their beautiful pens and pencils, I am most interested in their watercolour pencils. I've written about the Museum range before - the original clutch style set that is no longer available. 

Over a number of years, the Swiss has redesigned the range as traditional pencils. 

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - full range of 76

I was given a set of 12, as part of a generous Faculty 'goodie bag' when I taught at the last Urban Sketchers symposium in 2019, and have had a few in my sketching kit to explore. These are terrific watercolour pencils, and though the most expensive range as far as I am aware, they deserve a full post. The colours are often unique so many might be useful to add to other collections.

I bought the rest of the range as single pencils and have placed them all in a 96 slot Global pencil case (affiliate link) for easy storage and transporting. They are also available in many beautiful boxed sets. You can see them at (affiliate links) or on the Caran d'Ache website. 

Caran d'Ache set of 12 Museum Pencils

The website gives pigment information on each colour, and each pencil has the lightfast rating stamped onto it. The range of 76 colours has a number of single pigment colours and some lovely subdued hues. While I prefer the pencils to be painted in a solid colour so it is really easy to find the colour you are looking for, the colours at the end of each grey pencil are accurate.

I've drawn these swatches up on 300gsm hot pressed paper, as many people use smooth paper for pencil. I've coloured each swatch from darker to lighter, and added water to the right-hand-side, then drawn back into the wet wash with the pencil to show the wet pencil strength.

The colours are always difficult to show accurately. Yellow is slightly brighter than it appears here and Golden Yellow is a classic clean deep yellow colour. The three yellows are lovely choices for a cool, mid and warm yellow.

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - White, Primrose, Naples Ochre, Lemon Yellow, Yellow, Golden Yellow

These are reasonably accurate, but the Vermilion is just on the orange side of a mid red and the Light Cadmium Red is between an orange red and a coral. Scarlet is a definite crimson colour, as it appears here.
Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Golden Cadmium Yellow (Hue), Orange, Cornelian, Vermilion, 
Light Cadmium Red (hue), Scarlet.

Anthraquinoid Pink is a little more coral than it appears here. The other colours look quite accurate. Violet Pink is very like Potter's Pink. Purplish Red is a lovely quinacridone magenta option.

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils- Anthraquinoid Pink, Crimson Aubergine, Carmine Lake, Violet Pink, 
Dark Plum, Purplish Red.

It is wonderful to see these beautiful single pigment violets. PV16 abd PV15 are quite gentle pigments and the pencil versions are lovely. Cobalt pigments appear in the blues :-) These swatches are accurate in colour. Purples and blues are usually easier to show.

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Manganese Violet, Periwinkle Blue, Violet, Ultramarine Violet, 
Light Cobalt Blue, Genuine Cobalt Blue.

The colours shown here are very accurate. While most of the colours are five stars for lightfastness, Dark Ultramarine is only 3 due to PB1. Night Blue is the indanthrone blue pigment and Phthalocyanine Blue is a really useful cool blue in any palette.

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Middle Cobalt Blue, Dark Ultramarine, Night Blue, Prussian Blue, 
Light Blue, Phthalocyanine Blue

There are more lovely single pigment colours here. Chromium Oxide Green is a very opaque colour in watercolours but a really useful colour as a pencil.

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Permanent Blue, Ice Blue, Turquoise Blue, Light Malachite Green, 
Cobalt Green, Chromium Oxide Green

This set of greens are lovely and earthy. It usually takes a few pigments to create earthy greens. 

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Moss Green, Dark Phthalocyanine Green, Olive, Light Olive, 
Green Ochre, Olive Yellow.

Personally I find these less useful colours, and not hugely different, though the Emerald Green is slightly bluer than it looks here. It is good to see a single pigment Phthalocyanine Green.

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Spring Green, Bright Green, Grass Green, Emerald Green, 
Beryl Green, Phthalcyanine Green.

There is a lovely range of earth colours. 

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Dark Sap Green, Brown Olive 50%, Olive Brown, Brown Ochre, 
Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre.

Genuine Umber was the name of the original 548 colour, now just called Umber. It's a useful cool yellowish-brown. 

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Genuine Umber (discontinued), Umber (current version), Saffron, 
Light Flesh 10%, Apricot, Cinnamon.

Cinnamon, Burnt Ochre and Terracotta are all similar variations of a burnt Sienna. Brown is a little more like an Indian red and Chestnut a burnt umber. Russet is a lovely colour but not as crimson as it looks here - more of a burnt coral colour.

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Burnt Ochre, Brown, Terracotta, Russett, Burnt Sienna 50%, Chestnut.

Raw Umber is like a deep chocolate colour - quite warm, and Cassel earth is another option for a cool dar brown. 

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Raw Umber, Cassel Earth, Dark Flesh 50%, French Grey, Sepia 50%, Sepia 10%

I like the slight blue tint of Payne's Grey. Of the blacks, Ivory is warmer and Black cooler.

Caran d'Ache Museum pencils - Steel Grey, Payne's Grey, Slate Grey, Ivory Black, Black.

These pencils are a joy to use. They wet and activate with ease and can be used alone or with regular pencils, watercolour, inks or whatever you wish. 

Happy sketching!