Wednesday 17 October 2018

White Nights Watercolours

I've written about this range before. It is known by a number of different names - White Nights is more common in Europe, St Petersburg in the US, but they are made by Nevskaya Palitra in Russia.

The full range was shown in this post here.

They have now added a number of new colours and changed the names of a couple. They have also added tubes to their range for all 66 colours apart from the silver and gold.

I was given the new colours that have recently been added while at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in July and have finally had a chance to paint out the rest of the swatches. Thank you to Tatiana.

The tube colours paint out very nicely fresh from the tubes and allow more options in setting up custom palettes - whether half pans or into the wells of other palettes. They also make it easier to paint larger washes of course. I normally work from dried paint in a palette but will use tube colours in my studio for larger works.

These are a very affordable range to use to get started in watercolour as they use real pigments rather than hues for most colours. Just be wary of a few fugitive pigments or only use in a sketchbook where they are protected from light.

White Nights Watercolours - Zinc White, Lemon, Cadmium Lemon, Hansa Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Medium.

Indian yellow and Indian Gold are new - the Indian Gold is an excellent quinacridone gold hue. It would be a good option as a warm yellow in a small palette.
White Nights Watercolours - Indian Yellow (new), Indian Gold (new), Golden, Golden Deep, Cadmium Orange.
I love the PO36 Titan Red colour.
White Nights Watercolours - Orange Lake, Titan's Red, Cadmium Red Light, Vermilion (Hue), Scarlet.

The new Quinacridone Red is a lovely primary red option.
White Nights Watercolours - Ruby, Madder Lake Red Light, Claret, Carmine, Quinacridone Red (new).
As is Quinacridone Violet Rose - also new.
White Nights Watercolours - Quinacridone Violet Rose (new), Quinacridone Rose, Rose, Quinacridone Lilac, Violet-Rose.

Blue Lake is a beautiful blue but I am very wary of PB1.
White Nights Watercolours - Quinacridone Violet (new), Ultramarine Violet (new), Violet, Blue Lake, Indanthrone Blue.

White Nights Watercolours - Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Azure, Blue, Bright Blue (Brilliant).

I'd prefer a stronger version of Cerulean blue - this is rather weak - but it is still a great pigment to use for sketching skies as it is not a staining pigment so clouds can be lifted out with ease.
White Nights Watercolours - Ceruleum Blue, Indigo, Prussian Blue, Azure Blue, Turquoise Blue.

White Nights Watercolours - Emerald Green, Light Green,  Green Original, Yellowing Green, Sap Green (old version).

White Nights Watercolours - Sap Green (new version), Green Earth, Olive Green, Chromium Oxide, Green (Russian).

White Nights Watercolours - Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow, Raw Sienna, Red Ochre, Shakhnazarskaya Red.

White Nights Watercolours - Burnt Sienna, English Red, Venetian Red (not shown), Burnt Umber, Mars Brown.

White Nights Watercolours - Umber, Sepia, Voronezhskaya Black, Payne's Grey, Neutral Black.

White Nights Watercolours - Antique Gold (not shown), Silver Deep (not shown).
Here is the 12-colour Plein Air palette I suggested back in 2015. This is intended as a starter watercolour set for plein air and/or sketchbook work. There are some colours that are not lightfast.

And here is is open. Full pans are great for brush access!

With the new colours that have beed added to the range it is possible to create a set that is more lightfast. I'd now switch the orange-yellow Golden to the new quinacridone gold hue Indian Gold. I'd switch Carmine to the new Quinacridone Red and I'd switch Green to the new Sap Green. I'd also switch the Cerulean to the new Cobalt Azure Blue launched in 2019 - see below.

Update August 2019

At the Amsterdam Urban Sketching Symposium, Tatiana gave me some more new colours, launched in Spring 2019. I've created a new blog post with the full range that can be found here. I scanned the swatches for that blog but will also update the colours here.

It's great to see a PY151 mid or primary yellow. The Naples Yellows are quite accurate but the Orange is a true bright mid orange. The Geranium Red is very aptly named - it is a bright warm red geranium colour with a slightly pink undertone.

White Nights Watercolours - Aureolin, Naples Yellow Light, Naples Orange, Orange, Geranium Red.
 It's also good to see a PB36 Cobalt Azure Blue.
White Nights Watercolours - Venice Purple, Cobalt Azure Blue, Cobalt Turquoise, May Green.
 Here are the 7 metallics.
White Nights Watercolours - Silver Light, Inca Gold, Bronze, Aztec Gold.

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

Happy painting :-)


  1. I absolutely love your blog! I faithfully follow your posts and wanted to say thank you ever so much for always taking the time to do these color swatches, this really helps so much. I would LOVE to see a quick video of you painting a swatch card please? Maybe there is a quick video and I just haven’t seen it yet? I can never get my swatches to look like yours. The color range you produce on each swatch is amazing! Please let me know if you have a quick video or could do clip? I would be ever so grateful! Thanks so much :)

    1. I have posted up some videos on my Instagram account - @Janeblundellart. I have never attempted to add any to my blog - I could give it a go.

    2. Here you go. On my YouTube chanel

  2. Do you have google + enabled for your blog? My name and badge used to show up but now they don't and I can't comment unless I sign in manually. I keep hitting the "sign in" in the top corner but I'm already signed in.

    It's too bad that White Nights has such a wide range of permanent and fugitive colors. That's one of the reasons I've avoided them.

    White Knights Quin Rose is PR122 whereas Daniel Smith Quin Rose is PV19. That's confusing. Their Quin Rose seems more toward violet than their Quin Rose Violet. Seems those two should switch names.

    Who can pronounce Shakhnazarskaya red? Which is quite pretty in almost a Buff Titanium sort of way. But as long as you're going to make up names, maybe Red Ochre Light?

  3. A really nice brand. I have all the new colours and they are a great addition to the range.
    I see Golden in your 12 colour box. Unfortunately it is fugitive and changes from orange to yellow.

    1. Yes I am aware that Golden is not lightfast but it was the best warm yellow option before the new colours were added. I’d now suggest Indian Gold as a warm yellow.
      However assuming the plein air box is used for sketching in a sketchbook it should be somewhat protected.
      Or did you find it changed even if not exposed to light?

  4. Thank you for reviewing the new colors. I use White Nights as my main Brand. They have all colors needed and the price is unbeatable.
    I love how fast the rewet and how fast you can pick up the color. The new colors are all great and closes some gaps in the range.

  5. Hi Jane,
    I noticed little symbols like triangles and others under the color charts, does any of them indicate if the color is staining or not?
    Thumbs up for your blog!

    1. Good question but no - actually those symbols (square, circle and diamond) refer to the sets that they paints are available in the US.
      As a general rule, the granulating colours tend to be less staining, non-granulating colours tend to be more staining. But the most staining are the phthalos and colours mixed from phthalos.

  6. Are the tubes good to fill pans? I see Cotman tubes losing a bit of strenght.

    1. They are designed to be used to refill the pans or use fresh as you prefer. It is always best to fill pans from tubes little by little so they can dry in stages and avoid cracking.

  7. Hi, can I ask for Your help? I am trying to complete my first palette in order to start the adventure with watercolors. Actually, I have no idea about colors / mixing, etc. That's why I searched the internet and found your blog wchich I think is very helpful and the best in this topic! But still I have some troubles. I chose White Nights because of the price. I intend to paint mainly landscapes, nature, buildings.
    I have chosen so far: cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red light, quinacridone red, quinacridone rose, quinacridone violet, ultramarine, bright blue, cerulean blue, emerald green, green(russian), burnt sienna, burnt umber, payney's grey and I can not decide between: lemon/cadmium lemon, olive green/green light/sap green, raw sienna/yellow ochre, umber/sepia, golden deep/indian gold. Which one You think will be more useful? Or maybe some are completly useless and You would replace them with something else?
    Best wishes, Ela

    1. I don't think you need Quinacridone red and quinacridone rose - just one of those will do. I'd go with the red since you have a purple.
      Lemon will be a little more transparent than cadmium lemon but either will be fine.
      Sap green is a good basic convenience green.
      Raw sienna is a single pigment so that's my preference. Or Indian Gold.
      I find English Red a useful sort of colour for the genre you intend to paint too.

  8. Hi! I admire your website and the work you put into every article. Can't thank you enough.
    Could I have your opinion please? If you were to put together a limited set of White Nights colors for travelling made out of cold, neutral and warm blues, reds and yellows plus some very essential earthy tones, what would it be? (Considering that the drawings would range from portraits and florals to landscapes and animalia)Really want to know your opinion.I guess lightfastness narrows the circle a bit. White Nights range is more available to me and it's much cheaper (here a pan costs about 1,5 USD and the tube is about 2USD). Sadly no one here ever writes as detailed reviews about them. But I'm very happy I found yours. It's so helpful

    1. I've included my suggested set of 12 based on the old range and have updated what I'd add with the newer additions but another few colours have also been added that I haven't tested. I'll try to find them and update my basic suggested 12 - use that as a starting guide.

  9. Hi!
    I really appreciate all of your work and I was wondering if you would like to help me if you have time! I want to build a 21 color palette with these White Nights watercolors. I currently have the 36 color one and it feels very uncomfortable because it has soooo many colors and some of them are very wierd. Note that i m open to buying more colors because there are some very pretty ones that are not included in the set. Thank you very much!

    1. Yes I can imagine that 36 colours is quite overwhelming. It's better to set up with a lot less and work with them until you get to really know and understand them.

      If you are aiming for a range that will paint pretty much anything, I'd look at Aureolin as a primary yellow, Indian Gold as a warm mixing yellow. For reds consider Titan Red or cadmium red light and Quin Red. Add Venice purple for a crimson but mix it with a little of the Quin Red. For blues Ultramarine, Cobalt Azure and Bright Blue (brilliant) or Azure as a cool mixing blue.
      Then add some greens - Emerald green as a mixer and others that you like, just watch the lightfast ratings.
      For the earth colours consider raw sienna, burnt sienna and English Red.

      Beyond those, it rather depends what colours you like and what you want to paint. You might add the Quin Purple, you might add more blues such as Indanthrene, you might add more greens. I aim for single pigment colours where possible and ideally lightfast ratings of 1 or 2 for watercolour.

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  11. Hi!
    I have the possibility to buy one of two types of White nights palette (with 12 colours). One is the plein air set that you mention with Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Carmine, Cerulean Blue, Emerald Green, Golden, Green, Payne"s Grey, Raw Sienna, Sepia, Ultramarine.
    The other one is the usual set with Cadmium Lemon, Carmine, Green, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Ultramarine, Umber, Yellow Ochre, Blue, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Red Light, Emerald Green,
    Neutral Black.
    Which one would you recommend from the two (I intrend to learn watercolour and maybe mainly paint landscapes). I could also buy one/two additional colours and I am not sure which would be more better for one of these two palettes. (I was thinking about Quinocridone red or yellowish green, as several people included them in their own palettes but I am not sure if it would be a good addition to these palettes).
    Thank you very much!

    1. I'd recommend the plein air set, however there are now better colours that you might switch into that set over time, as mentioned above.

    2. Dear Jane!
      Thank you very much for the help! I accidentally found a 16 set of White nights in my art shop which was at the same price as the 12 set. I am really happy with them, even though I am already planning to change some colours as you advised to. I bought one additional colour to the set considering your suggestions, so after using them a bit more I will try to change the less lighfast colours.
      Thank you very much!

  12. Hi Jane. Thank you for your detailed and helpful blog posts! Would you be able to map out your DS/DA 28 color pallet to a White Knights equivalent pallet?
    Thank you for all you do.

    1. I've added that to my get to it list, but I don't have the full set at the moment so not yet...I am not sure that there are 28 colours that I'd recommend due to the lightfast issues with some, but I'll check out larger palette options.

  13. There are few of new colors coming.
    PY129 - Green gold
    PR101 - Caput mortuum
    PR102/PBk6 - Van Dyke Brown
    PV29 - Perylene violet
    PB36 - Cobalt turquoise (somewhat between existing PB36 and saturated PB28)
    PR122fluo - Opera rose
    PB29 - Ultramarine deep

    1. Thank you - I'll update when I can get hold of the next batch of new colours.

    2. Hi, i'm thinking to buy a palette of 12 pans and I found the Ale Casanova's case. What do you think about it? better than the plein air?

      The colours that includes are:
      - Yellow ochre
      - Golden
      - Cadmium Red
      - English Red
      - Quinocridone Rose
      - Violet
      - Ultramarine
      - Ftalo Blue
      - Emerald Green
      - Green Light
      - Burnt Umber
      - Paynes Gray


  14. hey I wonder if zou have any info about the Carmine color, since it seems that they changed the pigment in it, looks like they are using PR 19 not PR 170, I have seen that this Carmine has a lot of problems whit light fastness, so do you happen to know when they started to produce it with PR 19. I want to use this color for my primary red since I can not find the quinacridone red (that is also pr 19) anywhere in stock...Any info would be much appreciated!

  15. Hi Jane

    Just wanted to say how HAPPY I am to have found the info on the page about White Nights/St Petersburg watercolors. I've looked all over for the pigment #s on these paints, and this is the only thing I've seen with the actual pigment # and actual color swatch. THANK YOU !!!

  16. I only discovered you blog today. I don't know how I ever lived without it. Thank you, Jane Blundell, you're my new idol.

  17. Can you tell me where can I find white nights colors in tube set( not pan)
    Can't see it in amazon and it's not available anywhere else.
    Thank you

    1. They are getting more easy to find. In Australia they are available from but so many brands can be found a Jacksonsart in the UK that they are a great place to start.

  18. Hi Jane. Your blog is so informative. I had a question and I do hope you will help me. I have the White Nights 36 pan set. Could you please tell me which of those are granulating? I tried making swatches but am confused. Thank you

    1. There isn't a lot of granulation in this range as a general rule, but you can see in my swatches that some, such as Ultramarine Violet, clump together creating an interesting texture.

  19. "PBr6" and "PBr6 tr", are they different ?

  20. Hi Jane,

    I am from India and I only got Camlin watercolors. Wanted to upgrade to artist grade within affordable prices. I think there are only few sets available for that. 1. White Nights, 2. Rosa, 3. Vangogh, which I can try to get and have access here in India. Could you please help me with a choices and selection. As in which would you recommend the brand, and choices of colors.
    I needed 3 primary+Secondary+Tertiary (Warm, Cool) sets, like 18 colors of these. Can you please share a list of these 18 better choices, and which brand I would better go for as there is less info on this. I found this website which does that warm + cool combination sets, but it's not sure what to do with White Nights or Rosa or Vangogh.

    There they listed this set.

    Cool Red – Quinacridone Rose: PV19

    Warm Red – Pyrrol Scarlet: PR255

    Quinacridone Coral: PR209

    Warm Blue – French Ultramarine: PB29

    Cool Blue – Phthalo Blue GS: PB15:3

    Cobalt Blue: PB28(

    Cobalt Teal Blue: PG50

    Warm Yellow – Hansa Yellow Deep

    Cool Yellow – Lemon Yellow:

    Transparent Pyrrol Orange: PO71

    Phthalo Green BS: PG7

    Sap Green: PO48/PG7/PY150

    Yellow Ochre: PY43

    Raw Sienna: PBr7

    Quinacridone Burnt Orange: PO48

    Burnt Sienna: PBr7

    Burnt Umber: PBr7

    Prussian Blue: PB27

    Payne’s Gray: PB29/PBK9

    Please help.

  21. Jane here: the article you linked to recommends Daniel Smith, which are imported by @artsharkllp and are available in India from and possibly others. You don't need all the colours on the list. If you start with the DS 6-colour essentials set and add Burnt Sienna and work with just those 7 colours you'll be off to a great start without breaking the bank. The 8th colour I'd suggest would be Phthalo Green BS.
    However if you wish to use White Nights, the basic 8 would be
    Cool Red - Quinacridone Red or Quinacridone Violet Red
    Warm Red - Geranium Red though this isn't a prefect choice
    Warm Blue - Ultramarine
    Cool Blue - Bright Blue
    Warm Yellow - I'd go with Indian Gold
    Cool Yellow - Yellow (though I haven't tried this one)
    Burnt Sienna
    Emerald Green for mixing
    Then you might add Sap Green and Neutral Black for convenience if you want a couple more. If you want 12 - add Cobalt Azure Blue and Burnt Umber.

  22. Hello Jane! A blanket thank you so much for all of the help and inspiration you offer us!!! I am needing advice on the toxicity of some of the paints... cadmium, cobalt, iron oxides, etc.
    Do you have a link to a post for this info? How bad are they to use? I have autoimmune issues and controlled asthma, but I'm not planning on eating the paint. How do you recommend disposing of the paint water?
    Appreciate any suggestions you may have.

    1. We use so little paint at all when working with watercolour, that I see it as a very low risk medium. A well ventilated area is ideal for most activities, and of course take care if using any form of spray (wear a proper mask) but for normal painting it just isn't necessary.
      I dispose of the paint water in the sink.
      Some people have more complex solutions (stones and sand in buckets etc) but one of the joys of watercolour is its ease of use.
      If you have particular issues, you can get hold of the safety information sheets from the manufacturer.