Tuesday 2 January 2018

Wallace Seymour Vintage Watercolours

I have just posted about the Wallace Seymour pan colours known as Artists Watercolours, but to avoid confusion, I've decided to give the Vintage Watercolours their own post.

These are a little bit more tricky to write about since they are not a range that suit my method of painting, but many people have enjoyed them and may wish to comment below.

As I prefer to use watercolours in dried out form in a palette - since part of the joy of watercolour is the convenience of having them always ready to use - I squeezed some of the three tubes I bought in Manchester (while at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in 2016) into half pans and allowed them to dry. They cracked badly and were almost impossible to paint with, so I added distilled water to soak and rewet and then added some glycerine, stirred and fiddled, and allowed to dry again. Here you can see how even with the glycerine added to try to hold them together, the dry pans cracked badly. 

Pip Seymour labelled Vintage Watercolour tubes and squeezed into full pans.

Here you can see my them painted out and fresh from the tube along with two more that a friend had bought. Cerulean and Ultramarine are really lovely and rich with gorgeous granulation but Payne's Grey was a disappointment as it is labelled as PB29 + PR102 so should have been a lovely warm grey, however my tube didn't match the lovely sample colour hand-painted on the tubes. Lemon Titanate is never a strong pigment, though Venetian red usually is.
Pip Seymour Vintage watercolour tube colours painted fresh from the tube. Lemon Titanate, Cerulean, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Venetian Red and Payne's Grey.
Here I have painted the sample from the dry pan (left) and from the wet tube colour (right) and you can see the difference. I've decided these tubes are not for me, but are an option for those who paint with fresh tube paint. Which, like Sennelier and M.Graham, is probably what they were designed for :-)

Pip Seymour Vintage (tube) colours painted out from dry sample (left) then wet sample (right) for each colour.

Edit - I did a search based on a comment below and found the historic colours in full pans from a Canadian art store, as well as the Artists Watercolours range. These don't show up on the Wallace Seymour website. It's complicated trying to keep on top of all these brands and ranges!

Happy painting :-)

Art Spectrum watercolours here
Blockx full range of Watercolours here
Daniel Smith new colours 2017 here
Daniel Smith full range here
Da Vinci range here
Dr PH Hydrus Watercolours here
Lukas watercolours here
M.Graham watercolours here
MaimeriBlu full range here
Mission Blue full range here
Old Holland full range here
Rembrandt Watercolours here
Schmincke new colours 2017 here
Schmincke full range here
Sennelier watercolours here
St Petersburg Watercolours here
Wallace Seymour Artists Watercolours here
White Nights watercolours here
Winsor & Newton Full range here

Still to come - Daler Rowney and Holbein - nearly there!


  1. Could you add gum arabic and a little honey with the glycerin to get them to dry out less and rewet better? Of course, then why buy them at all? Might as well buy another paint.

    I found a distributor that is willing to ship the Wallace Seymour Paints to the U.S. They are out of Canada and carry the entire line.

    When I win the lottery, I'm going to order 18 half pans.

    Select Fine Art Materials, www.selectfineartmaterials.com

    1. I tend to use glycerin rather than honey and yes perhaps you could add both glycerine and more gum Arabic, but I think it is best that you just use these from the tube or get the Artists Watercolour pans for beautifully behaved pan colours. If I explore the tubes further, I'll update...

      Thank you for the Select Fine Art Materials suggestion - they stock the Historic colours in full pans as well as the Artists Watercolour full pans. I wonder how they re-wet?

      Good luck in the lottery :-)

  2. I have one tube which I have mixed one to one in the pan with honey. The pan doesn't dry out and stays put in the pan even when upside down. Glycerine just doesn't seem to work the same with this formulation.

  3. Here is link to a video of me using Vintage, I keep the vintage in the tubes generally. I do use a glass palette. To reconstitute the dried vintage on my glass palette I use vintage gum arabic using a stiff palette knife I grind it back into a fluid paste as it normally comes out of the tube. I also tried Holbeins gum arabic and it worked as well.


    1. Thank you for the link to that. I don't often leave links up but this is a useful one. Quite an effort!

  4. This is Christopher the owner of Select fine arts the art store mentioned above.

    The whole pans have honey in them so it is a different experience in some ways from the vintage. This is the link that brings you to our watercolour page.


    There are four lines of watercolour paint from Wallace Seymour:

    Vintage: Is highly pigmented, no fillers, some pigments are hand mined and historically sourced, the pigments are carefully prepared by Pip and Rebecca according to 18th century methods. The result is the pigments are allowed to present themselves with all their influencing properties which is not the case for modern watercolours. The native earths often need gum Arabic to help disperse the particles in an even fashion if that's what is desired.

    Whole pans: Gum Arabic and honey. This line is again maximum pigmentation, handles like modern whole pans.

    Historic whole pans: these are like the regular whole pans except that they target historical colours, in particular rarified colours like Lapis Lazuli etc.

    18th century cakes: These have all the historical colours but are in a format which was used by Joseph Mallord William Turner RA. These cakes or pucks are made with north African gum Arabic which, only in the first use, sometimes need warm water to get them flowing' but after that cold water is fine, also very highly pigmented.

    1. what is the % gum arabic and honey to pigment, and does it change with pigment?