Sunday 26 February 2017

Handmade watercolours

I painted out a lovely triad with DS yellow ochre, DS cerulean chromium and Sharlie's Pinkcolor deep - a gorgeous colour somewhere between Potter's Pink and Indian red - either of which could equally be used in an earthy primary wheel like this. I posted it on Instagram (Janeblundellart) but I wanted to give a little more information here.

I was sent some samples of some hand-made watercolours to try out. Sharlie also loves granulation and has been making a small quantity of each colour to test. As I have tested so many pigments over the years, there were not many that were completely 'new' or original for me, but her Lapis Lazuli is more beautiful than the commercial ones I have tried and I really like the Pinkcolour deep  - much more interesting then the usual very soft watercolour known as Potter's Pink. I guess I just prefer stronger colours - you can always dilute them. I also really liked the Moroccan earth colours and the lovely rich Maya Blue.

Here are the colours I tested out.

Making my own watercolours, like making my own sketchbooks, is something I have chosen not to do. I want to spend time sketching in the books or painting with the watercolours! However I really admire those who go through the effort of making their own. Sharlie's rewet and painted out very nicely, unlike some others I have tested.

She has an Etsy shop called biscuitswatercolor, where she sells half pans of handmade watercolour. I don't have an Etsy account so can't post a link. I believe she has a number of other colours besides these :-)

Here are some more lovely handmade watercolours. It's the first time I've seen PB71 and such a gorgeous strong Potters Pink. The Graphite sparkles!
Handmade watercolours by Sharlie. Pigments shown if known. 

Handmade watercolours by Sharlie. Pigments shown if known. I love the Potter's Pink and Red Ochre.

Handmade watercolours by Sharlie. Pigments shown if known. This is the highest chroma yellow ochre I have tried. I assume it is PY43 but don't know for sure.

Handmade watercolours by Sharlie. Pigments shown if known. The PV15 is a gorgeous blue-purple. Lovely to see PB71 - rather like a Cerulean but not the same.


  1. Here's the shop:

    Thanks for the heads up on this shop. Her colors look wonderful. I think her "pink color" is a bit pricey at $20 for a half pan and she doesn't say what the pigment is made from. Same with her pipestone.

    One of my favorites is the Daniel Smith Primatek Minnesota Pipestone. It's very similar to the Pink color deep you have.

    I've bought some hand made watercolor from this guy who is located in Australia:

    Because he has an Indian Yellow made with Schmincke PY153 and you can't get that color any more. It truly is lovely.

    The only one of his colors I was disappointed with was the Raw Umber greenish. He doesn't have as many as Sharlie. They are are pretty basic palette. You can get a set of 8 for $71. Burnt Umber, Prussian Blue, Madder Red Deep, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue Light, Carmine, Indian Yellow. That's a great palette as is but I added his Terra Pozzuoli. Then I added DS Primatek Green Apatite and Serpentine, plus some Buff Titanium to round it out to 12. I have them in a small Whiskey Painter's travel palette.

    Thanks for the heads up on this shop. Her colors look wonderful. I think her "pink color" is a bit pricey at $20 for a half pan and she doesn't say what the pigment is made from. Same with her pipestone.

    One of my favorites is the Daniel Smith Primatek Minnesota Pipestone. It's very similar to the Pink color deep you have.

    1. Yes some of them are pricey but she is making very small batches so doesn't get any volume discounts, and pigments can be expensive. Both the Pink color and the Pink colour deep are PR233 (noted on my swatches above), but the Minnesota Pipestone is NL (not listed) - I guess it's just the stone from Minnesota! I'll have to try the DS version - I think I've only ever tried it from a tiny dot. I do love earthy reds though I quite like my Indian Red + Potter's Pink mix :-)
      Thanks for the link to MatteoGrilliArt. PY153 was the pigment in DS New Gamboge and it really is a beautiful yellow. Hansa Yellow Deep (PY65) is very very similar in hue, but behaves itself more predictably. I loved the 'fussy edges' of the New Gamboge.
      The best I've used for a raw umber greenish are DS and DV as both are rich, deep cool umbers. They are just called raw umber, but have that cool leaning.
      Your whiskey palette sounds lovely :-) I don't even feel happy without Buff titanium in my palettes!

    2. Ah I'm so excited to see this!! Thank you so much Jane! And I see that empty swatch box :D I have more paints to make.

      Buff titanium is my palette staple too. I use Daniel Smith's and also making my own.

      The origin of Pink Pipestone (Catlinite) is Minnesota, United States. The colour index is not listed from the pigment supplier.

      All are single pigment paints unless they occur naturally as multi pigment for e.g. orange ochre.

      I make and buy in small batches, varieties of pigments and also located very far from these pigment suppliers (expensive freight) and hence the price. So the cost is really incomparable with paintmakers(handmade) that focus on a smaller range of colours, getting pigments in bulk and has geographical advantage. And my aim is testing many different pigments rather than just making paints for sale. And of course, buy whatever that is comfortable to you and enjoy painting!

    3. They are too beautiful not to share :-)

    4. Do you know where she's gone? Can't find her on Etsy or google ��. Where in the world was she? Thank you for such an informative site.

  2. Jane - I've just reviewed some similar handmade earthy watercolours in which a Vine Black (really a blue), a Hematite and an Ochre form a nice BRY triad - such lovely mixes! You can see them in action in the video at the end of this post on my blog:

    I know you enjoy a good interesting pigment as much as I do - I've reviewed 3 of the 4 lines this company make and will have the 4th one up by the weekend - absolutely a joy to work with.

  3. Hi Jane! I'm a university student who is going to be taking a watercolor class in the spring, and I'm very excited. We only need four colors: Aureolin Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarin and Burnt Sienna. Do you have a suggestion for any brands I should look at that are high quality, friendly for beginners, and cheap enough for a college kid? Thank you so much!

    1. Sadly, aureolin yellow and alizarin Crimson are not lightfast colours - they will fade and change on exposure to light. I would never recommend buying those colours even as a student as watercolour tubes last a long time and you may do work that you want to hang on a wall one day!

      You would be better to get lightfast versions of the same colours. Rika I am assuming you are in the US? So American made watercolours will be the most affordable and easy to find. I'd suggest you get Da Vinci watercolours in Arylide yellow, Alizarin Crimson quinacridone, French ultramarine and burnt sienna - they are available as 5ml tubes or 15ml (or even 37ml if you want to get some for the whole class!) and are excellent and affordable. The Alizarin Quinacridone is so close to the genuine alizarin (PR83) in colour that it won't cause any problems for your class, but is made with the more lightfast PV19. The arylide yellow is also a clean primary yellow that will mix the same as the aureolin. (Or you could get the DaVinci Aureolin mix if you really want something with the same name - it has some other pigments as well as the PY40 that is the problem.) The French ultramarine (or normal ultramarine) and burnt sienna are lovely versions. Dick Blick and Cheap Joes both sell them online from memory.

      Have fun!

  4. I have a bunch of both Sharlies and Matteos paints, and they are both stunningly beautiful. Very very high quality and makes it a bit more special to use than factory made paints. My biggest problem with those is that they are so highly addictive, they should come with a warning label! :D

  5. Looks like a lovely PB71! I've tried two kinds, one from Kremer pigments, and one from ebay seller PenHolderArt. They are both nice, but the PenHolderArt one is great. I'd love to try Sharlies one day.