Friday, 3 October 2014

New Watercolours from Golden

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

Added 05/10/2014: Thanks to Beverley (see comment below) I now have full pigment details. the link is 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.


Ray Maclachlan said...

Thank you Peter, always enjoy reading your posts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

I recently went to a demo on QoR watercolors, presented by Golden, the manufacturer of QoR. I agree with you about the price. At my local art store, they cost much more than Daniel Smith or M. Graham, about the same as Holbein, and only slightly less than Winsor & Newton.

Here is a link to the website for this paint. There is a chart that can by downloaded in PDF format, which contains pigment information.

Hope you find this helpful

Beverly F. Cellini Colorado Springs, Colorado (USA)

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Ray as always.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Beverley. I've downloaded the info and will be updating the post accordingly.

Yvonne Harry said...

An interesting read, Peter

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Yvonne. I think we pay enough for paint without the further price hike of this new range. I won't be buying them.

Mark Golden said...

Dear Peter,
Thanks so much for blog on our QoR Watercolor. It will be interesting to see what you think once you’ve tried them. As you know the prices for professional paints in all media are typically based on the amount of pigment within each of the systems. This may or may not relate to the level of opacity of tinting strength as in our Ardoise (Slate) Gray, as this pigment is incredibly transparent, no matter the pigment load, but it does affect the price of the colors. In most of the colors in QoR, you will see significant increase in color saturation, even compared to your favorite brands. This may or may not be important to you as this is such a matter of personal taste. It will add to the possibilities within this media, which does make these modern watercolors of particular interest. It is not a replacement for the wonderful brands out there, but an addition to. I think this expanded palette of color experience will be quite interesting to artists who love the unique experimentation and play that watercolors offer and I hope some new acolytes to the media.

As for lightfastness this is a longer answer, but if you have room, I’d be delighted to chime in with a response that Sarah Sands, our Director of Technical Support and a current member of ASTM, has provided here.

In terms of those (ASTM) ratings, one needs to understand that ASTM Standards maintain a separate list of rated pigments for each medium. So a pigment listed for oils or acrylics will not necessarily appear on the list used for watercolors, and vice versa. To further complicate things, the only way a color can be added to a particular list is for a manufacturer to have samples put through a strict regimen of testing specified by ASTM, which includes both prolonged outdoor exposure as well as accelerated indoor testing. Once all of that is completed, those results are then submitted to the committee for approval and only then can that pigment be included to the list and its rating placed on a label or color chart. From start to finish this process usually takes several years, and sadly no watercolor manufacturer that we are aware of has stepped forward to update and expand that list in recent memory. As a consequence, many excellent pigments that are rated and used in oils or acrylics are still absent from the list and, until that changes, ASTM guidelines require that we list them as unrated when used in watercolors. That said, we would want to assure you and our customers that all the pigments we are using are ones we have long histories with and/or have completed enough testing to feel they are the best and most durable option for a particular color. That is the short term situation. Longer term, we have started on what will be a very large project to have all of the pigments currently unrated by ASTM go through the necessary testing and be submitted to the committee for approval. Once that work is completed we will finally be able to revise our color charts and labels to reflect those official ASTM ratings.

As always, we are available to answer any of your questions to the best of our ability. We are committed to providing the artist not only the best materials available, but hopefully a valuable resource of information as well. Regards, Mark Golden, Golden Artist Colors.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for these extensive and informative comments Mark - very interesting.

Zvonimir said...

To reinvent paint formulation, change the binder completely, and still call it "a watercolour", can happen only in this time and age of disrespect and quick profit making. The watercolour is not just any medium that can be mixed using water, or otherwise, acrylics would be called watercolours too. But they are called acrylics.

That definition of water-mixability does not apply. The watercolour has been defined by the art history, by a long tradition of artists, preparation and ingredients perfected and defined. Any formulation of paint to be called *the watercolour* must be done in accordance to that tradition. Or otherwise it is a new sport, and should be called differently.

The watercolour has so much historic significance behind it, that I am not surprised some manufacturers want to use the gravity of it to reinforce their misleading marketing efforts.

Golden, which is a trademark of Langridge, Australia, should know better than that, and should show some respect. Australia has a long-standing watercolour tradition and this attempt by a manufacturer of paint to hijack, reformulate, or "better" the medium by using a whole new binder and still call it "watercolour", is unnerving. It is scholarly and art historically unacceptable.

If the manufacturer has spent so much time inventing something new, they could spend same amount of time so that their new baby has a new marketing name too.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Zvonimir.