Schmincke are the leading German manufacturer of watercolour paints, which they have been making since 1881. Their motto is "I strive for the best" and they are still owned by the Schmincke and Horadam families, now into the fourth generation. Contrast that with Winsor & Newton, sold to a Swedish company, who have now sold them to a German company and recently moved manufacture of the paints to France!
The above brochure I obtained some years ago, just after the range had been reformulated. It now comprises 110 colours and is available in both tubes, 15ml and 5ml, and full and half pans. It may no longer be available but have no fear it can be downloaded from the website as a PDF and studied at leisure. Details later.
The information presented for each colour is comprehensive and very useful. Information on transparency, and lightfastness is clearly stated and looking at the Schmincke ratings they seem to me to be pretty realistic and they also add that ...` no watercolour should be exposed to direct sunlight for a prolonged time due to the usually fine and thin and thereby light sensitive colour application'.... Pigment information is also most useful.
Schmincke use Kordofan Gum Arabic from the Southern Sahara region as the binding medium which they say differs from year to year, depending on the crop - like good wine! They are therefore very selective in only purchasing the best available crop. They also state Oxgall is useful but only if carefully integrated. Schminke however are dead against the use of honey.due to it's propensity to attract flies.
What of the range? Of the 110 colours 70 are single pigment paints and the use of good reliable pigments is prevalent. Only three colours are given no ratings, Brilliant purple, Brilliant red violet and Brilliant blue violet. The latter two are dyes. The controversial Alazarin Crimson (and Rose Madder) are given two star ratings - limited lightfastness.
I don't have a great deal of experience with Schmincke, currently using only Translucent Orange (PO71) and Translucent Brown (PBr41), both excellent paints. The orange is a favourite. Like most manufacturers they do have their quirks. For example `Ultramarine Blue' is a mixture of PB15:1 Phalo Blue and PB29 Ultramarine Blue. `Pure' Ultramarine Blue is called Ultramarine Finest. Cobalt Blue tone is a mixture of PB29 and PW4 (white). Cobalt Blue Deep (PB74) and Cobalt Blue light (PB28) are the correct pigments. This illustrates once again that you should buy paints by pigments not colours. They also have a few four pigment mixes, mainly in the brown shades and a number of three pigment mixes. If you lean towards single pigment paints there is still plenty of choice.
Current prices from Jacksons www.jacksonsart.co.uk/ range from £6.50 (15ml) Series 1 to £12,00 Series 4. Once again you have to be careful as there are not that many in series 1 and manufacturers differ in the way they rate paints (pigments). See `Watercolour Painting on a Budget Pt.2' April 2013 for an explanation. I tried to find them on the Great Art site but the recent revised one is far less user friendly and although they do sell Schmincke could I find the 15 ml tubes? No, nor the 5ml and pans. Ken Bromley introduced Schmincke watercolours a year or so ago but discontinued them almost immediately claiming there was `no demand'. A few other suppliers sell them like Pullingers and I found them in a large art shop in Truro, Cornwall. They are freely available in the USA from some of the leading mail order suppliers.
What does Handprint say about Schmincke? Overall not a particularly flattering review although he raves about the `marvellous colour brochure' and picks out Translucent Orange as `unique'. Following this review a number of artists took issue with him, primarily photo-realistic and botanical painters, who preferred the `consistent texture and less emphatic chroma'.
As Schmincke have been selling watercolours for well over 100 years they must be doing something right and I suggest one keeps an open mind. The literature is certainly second to none. The details of the full range could hardly be bettered and include notes on each colour which go beyond the simple statistics. To get this information go to the Schmincke website www.schmincke.de/ and look up watercolours. As mentioned the full colour/pigment information and much else can be downloaded as a PDF. It is identical to the brochure. I should mention that a budget range called Akademie is also offered in a limited range of half pans, mostly in sets..