W.E.Lawrence the Hove art shop and mail order specialist have just announced a new range of watercolours from a company called `Golden Artists Colours'. The range of 91 colours is described as a `thoroughly modern watercolour'... The name is QoR - pronounced `Core' and is different in that quote `a conservation quality binder is used called Aquasol instead of the traditional gum arabic'. Presumably this implies improved lightfastness and hence longevity, a longstanding question mark against watercolours, although modern pigments are much improved in this respect nevertheless.....
Lawrence go on to say `We have tested them with some of our art studio tutors and the results have been quite remarkable. One tutor (unnamed) said ",,,,these are absolutely amazing. Some of the colours are beyond good"....They are totally compatible with traditional watercolours....... QoR is an acronym for "Quality of Results"......
What do we have here? There appear to be 91 colours with most of the names similar to that of the main manufacturers. A few variations do exist but overall a good range of colours. As far as I can see there are no pigment details and I don't know if this is given on the tubes. Although it doesn't say so specifically presumably the claim is that these watercolour paints will produce results that won't fade hence the use of `conservation quality'.
Are there any downsides YES THERE ARE! First of all where are the pigment details? Are they on the tubes? They may be there but I wouldn't consider buying any watercolours without knowing what pigments are used. We then come to the real bombshell PRICE. These paints are only offered in a small 11 ml tube not the more normal 15 or 14 ml or even larger in some instances. There seems to be four series with the cheapest - examples Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna - at the introductory price of £9.20p (rpp£12.95p), Ultramarine Blue is £11.30p (rpp£12.80p), Cadmium Yellow Light, Cobalt Blue, `French' Cerulean Blue (what is that?) all at £14.20p (rpp £19.95p), Indian Yellow £11.30p (rpp £12.80p) and Quinacridone Burnt Orange £12.80p (rpp £17.95p). Work out the price per ml then compare with Winsor & Newton and others. Open mouthed and speechless? I was!
I don't know who these watercolours are aimed at. Are they just for the `top' professionals who can perhaps afford them? I can't see many amateurs paying these prices when there are superb watercolours available from the established leading manufacturers at lower - in some instances much lower - prices. Even the brilliant range from Daniel Smith, the most expensive, at least in Europe, are cheaper in the conventional ranges.
If you are interested then I suggest you explore the range at www.lawrence.co.uk.
Added 05/10/2014: Thanks to Beverley (see comment below) I now have full pigment details. the link is www.qorcolors.com/products/watercolors There are 83 paints not 91. Some 63 are single pigments, 1 four, 9 three and 7 two. Three iridescent paints are included. All paints listed are given either excellent or very good ratings ASTM LF but - oddly - 25 are listed as `not yet tested'. Most or all of these apart from the iridescent ones contain pigments in common use that other makers have rated. The pdf file also includes details of opacity, staining and granulation.
All the pigments listed are those in use by the leading makers. I can't see anything exceptional or really different. There are a few oddities in paint compositions but in general all seems pretty straightforward. I realise that I haven't tested these paints so they may have some superior qualities but the only difference (on paper) I can see is the use of `aquasol', described as a `conservation quality binder'. I'll be interested in what the artists magazines say about these paints but I won't be trying them at these prices.
Added 10/10/2014: Enclosed with the November issue of `The Artist' is a large 4 page colour brochure giving printed images of all the colours. The back page has pigment details and other information. From the brochure comes the following:
`Deep, rich beautiful colour, QoR's exclusive binder provides more pigment in every brushstroke while providing the best qualities of traditional watercolours. QoR offers a strength, range and versatility unmatched in the history of watercolours'
Some tall claim and I still maintain price is important, with many excellent makes - who have a long history of making watercolours - at lower prices, and with watercolours already expensive I doubt whether this will resonate with many artists. We shall see.