Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Ken Bromley Watercolours

The well-known UK mail order specialist Ken Bromley has now introduced their own range of watercolours.

The paints are offered in 41 colours in 14 ml tubes. The tube size is unusual previously confined to Winsor & Newton.  Bromley claim they are `professional quality'. They say the same thing about St Petersburg - as do others - which arguably are not. The number of colours and prices suggest they are more likely to compete with student brands like Cotman, although as they offer genuine Cobalts, Cadmiums and Cerulean  they could be classed as midway between student and artists quality. Don't be fooled into thinking that paints offered at half or less than the standard artist makes are just as good. It is possible but look at the number offered and compare pigments not colours. 

 The increasingly high prices of artists quality paints seems to be bringing about an increase in  the number of `economy' brands, many claiming to be equivalent to artists quality but at a lower price. The Korean Shin Han and Mijello also come into this category. High prices are not necessarily a guarantee of high quality and even within the accepted artists quality brands there are wide price fluctuations. I would contend for example that many paints in the Lukas and Daler Rowney ranges are just as good as most others at a lower price.

This new range has two price points, series 1 at £4.32p with series 2  at £4.73p. I don't know if pigment details appear on the tubes but the colour chart on the Bromley website has them by clicking on each individual colour. A quick analysis indicates there are 26 single pigment paints and 15 with two or more. A few paints, Naples Yellow, Paynes Grey Dark and Translucent Grey are made up of 4 pigments. There is a colour called Cotswold Stone which is a 3 pigment mix including PW6 white. Sevres Blue is a mixture of PB15:3 Phalo Blue Green Shade and PW6. Teal Blue is composed of PB27 Prussian Blue and PB15:1 Phalo Blue Red Shade. Vermillion Hue is a 2 pigment mix and Viridian Hue is based on PG7 Phalo Green. There are some idiosyncrasies in that there are two Paynes Greys and  two Burnt Umbers. The pigments in general appear reliable with the exception of two. Alazarin Crimson is PR83:1 and Aureolin is PY40. Both are described as `Permanent' which is completely contrary to what Michael Wilcox, Hilary Page and Handprint have been saying - with examples - for years. The internet forum Wetcanvas has had much discussion about these colours(pigments) and numerous examples have been illustrated and quoted  to show they are simply not reliable - they fade or discolour. This is not to say this is exceptional as amongst the leading makes equivocation reigns and the only maker to call Alazarin  Crimson (PR83) fugitive is Daniel Smith.

Amongst the single pigment paints are many worth trying if cost - as it is to many - is an issue. I am not well disposed to multi-pigment mixes but some may disagree. The prices are excellent and certainly I'm tempted to try the Cobalts, Cadmiums and Cerulean. At the moment an extra 10%  is an introductory offer. Up until now only Jacksons and the SAA, amongst UK suppliers, have their own range of watercolours. In the USA all the large mail order suppliers have own brands, some more than one. Jacksons are (or were) made by the French company Sennelier, while Bromley state these new paints are produced in the UK. I only know of Daler Rowney currently manufacturing over here, with Winsor & Newton reportedly moving production to France. There may be some smaller producers as I was once told that the SAA watercolours were made by someone who had worked for Daler Rowney. This is speculation on my part rather than fact. Bromley's website is 


Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,

I always enjoy reading your reviews of new colour ranges.
I to am very interested in the progression of the industry and have been impressed by Ken Bromleys range.

I enjoy the fact that this range includes genuine cadmium's, as these seem to have disappeared from the Windsor and Newton range. Something to do with French export laws I believe.

I have also heard on the grapevine that Kens range has been produced in the UK but not by Daler. I think this is all the better! We should be supporting British colour, especially at this quality!

Ken has done a great job on his website with all of his videos and colour charts. Have you tried out the range yet? I would look forward to hearing what you think!


Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Marion. I have re-read my review or rather notification of the new range again. I am happy with what I said and have no plans to buy any at the moment. This is mainly because I have enough paints to last for years.
My friend John Softly has bought some of the earth colours and was quite impressed. As a budget+ buy they are certainly well worth a look but I don't believe you get the same quality as leading makes at half or less the price.