Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours

There have been quite a few new brands of watercolours in the last few years, mostly somewhat exotic or specialised ones at even higher prices than the majors. As readers will know I am opposed to the eye watering prices artists or just hobby painters (like me) are having to pay, with stiff price increases over the last two years. We also have these campaigns with well-known artists promoting the most expensive brands, particularly Daniel Smith, which are aimed at the vast mass of artists.

Is it just possible we are seeing a trend away from this? First of all we have the extended Van Gogh range, from 40 to 72,  which is perfectly adequate for amateurs. The St Petersburg range has increased and seems to have overall improved the brand, despite still using a few fugitive pigments. See what Jane Blundell says. 

I now come to what looks  an exciting new development in this sphere. This is the introduction of Roman Szmal's Aquarius watercolours emanating from Poland. I first heard of them in a recent e mail from Jacksons so they are readily available in the UK and with American artists reviewing them on You Tube presumably also in the USA.

The range comprises 140 colours of which 117 are single pigment paints. All the well-known pigments are there plus new ones like PY61, PY168, PBr23 and  PBk8. There is no suggestion obsolete or fugitive pigments are included. Gun arabic, glycerine, Linden honey and distilled water are used in the production  process. Colour charts giving full pigment details are available. The highly respected Australian artist Jane Blundell has already tested them and gives them an excellent rating. See her blog. There is much more on You Tube. Just 'google' his name and see the  response including demos. The colours appear intense and not at all wishy washy. At the moment only full pans are available  but that might change ?

Finally we get to price. Jacksons are selling the single pans at from around £2.30 to £3.70. There are a variety of sets, including trial ones. A set of 5 is £10.20 ( (RRP £12.00). A set of 12 is £34.00 (RPP £44.00). And there are others.

The questions I have include how long do the pans last? Do they wet easily? etc etc. I tend to think pans are not kind to my Kolinsky sable brushes so tend to use synthetics when I use them - which I do occasionally. Possibly these questions have already been answered in all the information about them already posted but there is a mass to absorb believe me.

To sum up on the basis of what I know so far - and this is early days - this seems to me an exciting new development of great benefit for the great mass of artists who paint in watercolour. I have plenty of paints at the moment but will definitely be buying some when I need to replenish my supplies.

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