Alright, we talked about combining colors to create color swatches, we talked about purchasing inexpensive but good brushes. We talked about inexpensive palettes for use with watercolor-both in studio and as a great plein air option.
Here is a terrific site, Jane Blundell Art.
This wonderful artist has a much more detailed explanation of paint swatches, color combinations, etc. than I can give you at this time. I don’t have all the paints listed on her site. Because I am limited to the paints I do have, I can only give examples of those few.
Here are the paints I have and my impressions of each of them.
Van Gogh: great quality for a limited budget. Considered student-grade, but I know of several professional water-colorists who use Van Gogh paints exclusively. I love these paints. Beautiful vibrancy and a great price. These are offered through the company Talens Company and made in the Netherlands. (Better known in my family as “the old country”. My great-grandparents came over from the Netherlands.)
Turner Watercolors. Professional grade watercolors for a reasonable price. If you are a beginner or aren’t sure watercolor will be your “thing”, you can purchase a set of these paints and put them in a palette.
Marie’s Watercolors. I really like these paints. They are inexpensive and the colors are beautiful. I prefer these over the Turner watercolor paints.
Reeves Watercolors. Another frugal, easily obtained option. Great color for the price. A wonderful way to begin with watercolor art.
Yasutomo Chinese Watercolors. Wonderful paints! Vibrant colors, stunning mixes. I have not put these paints in a palette yet, I have just used them from the tube. I purchased these paints for use in learning the art of Chinese watercolor and Japanese Sumi painting and calligraphy, but you can use them for any watercolor painting. Beautiful colors.
Windsor and Newton Cotman travel set. This is a nice set of paints. I use them when I am traveling. This is compact and the travel brush that comes with this set works very well. I purchased this set, which was on sale at Michael’s- with an additional coupon. I think I paid $26.00 for the set. It can often be found cheaper at Blicks or Jerry’s. We were out of town and I didn’t have any paints with me at the time, which is why I purchased where I did.
Artist Loft watercolors. This is the Michael’s brand of watercolors. They are very inexpensive. Cheap would be the best way to describe them. I did not care for these paints at all. In fact, I will have to say I have not cared for very many Artist Loft things. I don’t recommend this line of artist materials. I have found using them to be frustrating and annoying, time and time again. The Artist Loft brushes shed horribly, I actually dumped the entire set I had purchased-and I don’t dump things that could have any other use. But I was so frustrated with the shedding I just wanted them gone. ( I have since thought of an idea for using those worthless paintbrushes in another way. Not painting anything, obviously, but as a binding option for art journals. To late, they are out of here.) Please-do yourself a favor and don’t buy this brand of artist materials. You will be much happier with either Marie’s or Reeve’s for the same cost.
M. Graham Watercolors. I LOVE these paints. They use a honey binder, which keeps the paints slightly moist in the palette. They never dry out completely, so it is not a great travel option. If you tip your covered palette slightly and leave if for any length of time, your paints could slide/move/travel. I let the paints dry on the palette for two weeks before I used them, but I really don’t know if that’s necessary. They activate instantly when you put a wet paintbrush to them, they are vibrant, blend beautifully and behave very well on my paper. I am thrilled with these paints, and they are one of the best priced options for professional watercolor paints.
QoR watercolor paints. Another wonderful watercolor paint. The Golden company is the creator of these paints and they use a different binder than any other watercolor paint on the market. I have been very impressed with these paints as well. They are costly to purchase-which is why I purchased the introductory sets when they came out. This way you can purchase high quality materials at the lowest possible price, if you are willing to take the risk with the unproven art material. I have used Golden paints and mediums for years in my acrylic work and knew the company through those. I trusted the company to produce excellent quality artist materials and did not hesitate to make the purchase of these new watercolors. I was not disappointed I did. I absolutely love them. These are my favorite professional quality watercolor artist paints. They rate just a tick above M. Graham paints for me.
This is by no means a complete list of watercolor paints. These are just the ones I have tried and my personal opinion on each. Every artist is different and your opinions of these paints may vary wildly from my own. Nevertheless, I wanted to offer a review of the more reasonably priced watercolor paint options out there for those just starting out, or wanting a review of the cost-effective options available.