Monday 16 November 2015

Turner Watercolours

Recently the latest 2015/2016 Jacksons catalogues became available. I say 'catalogues', as there are now two. The standard product catalogue and a new watercolour only. The reason is that with the growth and importance of websites the basic printed catalogue cannot contain the huge number of products they now stock without becoming oversize. The standard catalogue has a lot of watercolour stuff, especially paints, missing.

In this new catalogue yet another brand of watercolour paint. This is called Turner and emanates from Japan. The claim is made that they are `artist quality' and a number of customer reviews, all anonymous, are given which extol the virtues of these new paints.

There are full details of lightfastness ratings, pigments and transparency, which I will come to. The range comprises 86 colours (now 115 July 2016) of which 59 are single pigment paints. That raises the eyebrows until one examines the details.  Of these single pigment paints over 20 say PR (N/A) which I take to mean pigment details not available. Many of them have unusual names, Pearl Black, Copper, Pearl Indigo, Antique Gold and so on. I counted around 20 in this category. Why no pigment details?

There are a number of fugitive paints, Alazarin Crimson PR83, Natural Rose Madder NR9, Opera Red which includes BV11 a dye, and one or two peculiar ones like Clove P(02), Purple Cromwell P(01). What does this mean? Looking at the actual paints I also note a lot of three and a few four pigment mixes that I would normally avoid.

Overall there a quite a few paints that contain good single pigments, blues, some greens, oranges, yellows and reds. You could pick out 20 or 30 in this category. After all who has 89 paints in their palette!.Many of the paints are given `excellent ' lightfastness ratings, the majority in fact although there are four categories from fugitive to excellent. Some of the pigments quoted are not used by the leading manufacturers, some were but have been replaced.

There are four price bands ranging from £3.30p for series 1 to £6.10 for series 4. This is barely a third of what the top priced brands like Daniel Smith and Winsor and Newton are. Can this be true that they are comparable in quality? The American mail order outfit Jerrys Artarama are effusive in their praise of these paints but cynical old me takes all such claims with a large pinch of salt. They are quite a bit cheaper than the Korean brands like Shin Han.

I've not tried Turner so cannot comment on how they perform. The composition of each paint depends on pigment load what additives they have and how the whole thing is formulated. Once we had the estimable Handprint that conducted forensic examinations of paints and the claims made for them. Alas no longer. If this brand interests you try some and report.

Jacksons catalogues, the watercolour only one is on the left.

The new watercolour catalogue doesn't just list products. It has a number of articles and other useful information. Although there is a small charge for this new catalogue you can get one free by quoting CATW with your next order. I like Jacksons. They are easy to deal with and eager to please. The occasional mistake is soon rectified. I am now using a new system of delivery where you pick up from a local point, in my case a McColls shop. This means you don't have to worry about being out when the delivery arrives. I would remind readers that if you live outside the EU you don't pay VAT - 20%. This will largely compensate for any extra delivery charges incurred which tend to be at actual cost, not inflated..


Peter Ward said...

I've had to delete a comment originally in Indonesian by a young lady. This is because most of it seemed to be advertising various things including a betting site, with various links, which for all I know might be dangerous. Sorry..

Unknown said...

Hi, Mr. Ward! Great blog, especially the posts on palettes. Being left-handed and still searching for a good way of organizing my colours, views on palettes are always interesting.

Regarding the Turner Watercolours, I have some tubes bought from Jackson's a while back. The tubes are somewhat large and a bit disappointing to look at at first. They look far from full and sound clanky, even though they probably contain the stated amount of paint. The "extra "room" in the tubes may be both to avoid unneccessary expansion when opening them and to make them appear a bit larger in the eye of the beholder. The opening is quite small, so there is no unneccessary goo around the cap when opening them. Most importantly, the paint is quite thicker than other brands, which could mean more pigment to gum ratio. They're the complete opposite of Maimeri Venezia which (in my opinion) contains lots of gum arabic. For the price, they're quite good and may safely be used alongside other colours.

Like you, I am sceptical about combo-colours with several ingredients, but these are useful for detail work and shadows, and less for mixing, so I do not worry too much about them. I am still looking for an indigo to replace the Prussian PB27. The Turner indigo has four colours in it, so I am not sure how it will react to surrounding colours...

It is important, however, to avoid or be careful with mixes containing white pigments as they will easily go opaque and muddy. I like the Shin Han brand as well (European or American artist tubes in Norway can cost almost twice as much as in the UK), but pay attention to those mixes. Even the most expensive brands have such mixes, though. I think they should be labeled "gouache". Naple's Yellow is often a gouachy watercolour, as are some cerulean or cobalt "hues". I have seen painters put tiny amounts of chinese white in the skies, though, so there is no reason to be totally rigid. Adding white pigments seems like an inexpensive way to expand the colour chart. In my opinion, Turners' has an excellent chart with lots of single pigments and very few white-mixes. The earth colours, however, do not seem to contain many single standing varieties of PBr7 or other PBs. Only two, I think. Compared to Horadam, for instance. Turners' has many Pr101 varieties. As does DS.

The "Pearl" paints by Turners' are most probably metallics, sought after by scrapbookers, especially, as wel as some nonfigurative artists. They seem to contain pigment with tiny aliminium or titanium flings, much like craft acrylics do. Not sure if I would try the metallics, but even DS has metallics or iridescens (or so), these days.

Gromwell? Maybe it should have been Cromwell? The Maya coulours still confuse me, though. Would like to hear what people make of them.

Overall the Turner tubes are worth a try. I like them, once I get over the weird clanky feeling of the tubes. Disregard the six (!!) varieties of black and the thirteen metallics and Turnes Watercolors are very good. The single pigment tubes may easily replace the more expensive brands.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Trond for a most interesting post. I have some painting friends who are quite happy with Shin Han and, as you say, there are single pigment paints in the Turner range that are worth trying if cost is a major factor in your purchases.

Basically it's all down to personal preference so by all means try them.

I'm very dubious about paints containing white. It makes them cloudy and my experience with various Naples Yellows, that have white in them, is that they solidify after a while and can't be squeezed out of the tube.

I agree with you though - don't be rigid.

My personal preferences at the moment are Daler Rowney and Lukas, purely for their combination of good prices and quality, although I have quite a few other makes.

daydreamer said...

I have a couple of the Turner paints and so far have been quite satisfied. Have just read a review on You Tube which rates them above average. So looks as though I may buy ore. Thanks for your overall comments.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Daydreamer. Each to his or her own. Watercolour paints have become so expensive that chapter options are welcome.

Homepride (art and then some) said...


Turners had updated and now offer complete pigment info.

Bought a 24 color set and a few other colors.

They are very bright. As bright or even brighter than Daniel Smith or Schminke.

Fraction of the cost of other brand name watercolors, about a third of the price of Schmincke or Daniel Smith or Winsor & Newton etc.

Only review available on Youtube is by Owings Art and he rates them as artist grade and above average against Schmincke and other top brands.

Definitely worth a try. You might like it or hate it!

Agric said...

Has there been a comments disappearing problem recently? I'm sure I posted a comment here a couple of months back with one line reviews of ten Turner paints, and you replied to it Peter.

Peter Ward said...

Agric - I'm not aware of comments disappearing but strange things do happen from time to time. They also seem to be making it more difficult to comment.