This wasn't a planned post but has arisen as a result of my experiences with two tubes of Graham Mineral Violet purchased from T.N.Lawrence & Son of Hove.
I actually bought these paints in the first half of last year and somewhat later decided to make a swatch of the Mineral Violet, only to find initially only liquid emerged and that the tube was less than half full. When contacted Lawrence were most apologetic and replaced the tube very promptly.
As I am a paint junkie I have far too many paints and the Graham paints, apart from two colours, were not brought into immediate use. Very recently I decided I must do something with them and prepared an alternative palette which included paints from Daniel Smith. The paints were sqeezed out into the wells with no problems until I came to the Mineral Violet. I noticed immediately that it seemed somewhat congealed and what emerged from the tube was a thick mud-like brown substance. Not a trace of violet anywhere!
I decided to contact Lawrence once more as these paints are not cheap. The response was immediate. I received an e-mail from Martin Lawrence which said "...it does appear to be a problem with this particular colour that we have experienced with a number of other paint manufacturers" He also said this had been communicated to Graham and a reply was awaited. Once again the response was immediate. Graham replied:
"Yes, a couple of years ago we (and other manufacturers) bought a pigment that reacted to the medium.It only happened with the Mineral Violet. We apologize and will replace any tubes that you or your customers have with this problem".
Martin Lawrence replied as follows "I have asked for clarification as to whether this batch is identifiable. As we haven't had any other problems reported for some time, I hope that our current stock is ok. It looks as if we must have replaced the first tube with another tube of the same batch. We will send out a replacement tube tomorrow".
Assuming the tube arrives and is ok then the response from Lawrence (and Graham) could hardly be bettered. I find Jacksons equally good in handling any rare problems and Lawrence are in the same league.
As for Mineral Violet PV16 it isn't a particularly popular pigment, correctly called Manganese Violet. Handprint rate it a `top forty' pigment and make no comment about possible problems so it appears this is an isolated instance.
Lawrence www.lawrence.co.uk sell a wide range of art supplies and have a very good selection of watercolour paints. They are the sole UK source of both the highly regarded American makes of Graham and DaVinci. The German Lukas brand is also stocked as is Old Holland. Art Spectrum and others.
Graham and DaVinci, both ranges containing some excellent and unique colours, are rather expensive but Lawrence do offer an additional 20% off when six tubes are purchased. This makes them more competitive. Both companies have excellent websites with very good colour charts and information on pigments etc. Graham are www.mgraham.com/ and DaVinci www.davincipaints.com/ . Graham paints are easily rewetted, a major plus unless you paint every day. My only experience with Da Vinci is through the Michael Wilcox paints, which they make, but they have since reformulated the paints introducing many new colours made with top pigments. Both are worth serious consideration. I shall almost certainly buy more Graham in the future.
I have only one issue with Lawrence and that is they don't have a similar free postage offer, providing the order exceeds a certain amount, to Bromley, Jacksons and Great Art. Some other suppliers are starting to introduce something similar. The minimum postage charge is £4.99 which adds 83p per tube when six are purchased. Obviously the more you purchase the lower this figure becomes. Thus the final price can be more expensive compared with Winsor & Newton (and other makes) from the three aforementioned suppliers. In these straightened times, with art materials increasingly expensive, price is becoming a major factor.