Sunday 10 January 2016

Another Winsor & Newton Limited Edition

Winsor & Newton have introduced another limited edition of 6 `special' paints they are calling the `Twilight Edition'. Once again the paints are listed as Series 3 and are only available in 5ml tubes. The implication is that they will only be available for a limited time. I'm puzzled by the logic of this. What if you are particularly taken by one or more of them and want to continue using these colours? Methinks the marketing men (or women) are driving things these days, possibly a reflection of the way W & N have changed ownership over the last few years - no longer a British company. I also think this is another reaction to the success of  Daniel Smith and I'm sure the lights are burning late into the night in the W &N marketing department to devise ways of countering this  innovative company.  Is this also a tryout of new colours to see if demand justifies them being added to the main range?

Another innovation is the availability (free) of a dot card containing the six colours, just like the dot cards that Daniel Smith pioneered. This dot card refers to the first limited edition but presumably they will be providing one for the `Twilight' one.

Here are the paints individually:

Cobalt Green Deep:  PG26 (Pigment Green 26).This is known as Cobalt Chromite Green (according to the pigment database) or alternatively Cobalt Chrome Oxide (Handprint). PG26 is available in several other makes under Cobalt Green or similar.. Handprint say `dull blue green'. 

Aqua Green: Colour Index Name N/A: What does this mean. I have tried to find anything under `Aqua Green' without success, ADDED:Aqua Green is actually  `Palomar Turquoise'  which is chlorinated Cu-Phthalcyanine and is` lightfast, transparent and granulating,  It hasn't yet been allocated an Index number.So say W & N. Thanks to Greg for providing this information..

Quinacridone Violet. PV55 (Pigment Violet 55). PV55 was first introduced by Daniel Smith as Quinacridone Purple. Described as a `bluish violet to violet blue'. An excellent pigment.

Chrome Black. PBk29. (Pigment Black 29). Jacksons list this as `PBr' not `PBk' - possibly a mistake but maybe not as W & N describe this paint as `unique' to W & N. Colour just `black'. Described by the pigment database as `Iron Cobalt Black'.Not listed by Handprint.

Sanguine Red. PR187.(Pigment Red 187).the colour is described as `Permanent Pink' by the pigment database or alternatively `bright bluish red'.. Not listed by Handprint.

Smalt. PV15 (Pigment Violet 15). PV15 is a common pigment known usually as Ultramarine Violet. Most makers list it and Handprint calls it a TOP FORTY pigment..Added:  Genuine Smalt is PB32 and is made from powdered glass with Cobalt in it. Daniel Smith offer a `Genuine Smalt'. The W & N is a substitute for it based on PV15.

Looking at the pricing they are all listed in Series 3 - which makes them expensive. As they are only available in a small 5ml tube this works out, at the discounted price being offered by Jacksons and the SAA (Society of All Artists), at around 80p per ml. Are they worth it? That's for others to decide as I have no plans to purchase any since, apart from anything else, replacements aren't on offer - at the moment.

The lack of information on Handprint is a pity but reflects Bruce McEvoy's decision to stop updating things a while back. Really sad.  The pigment database is an excellent source of pigment information and lists hundreds of pigments, of which only a proportion are utilised in watercolours. If anyone can add to the above or has experience with this limited edition set I'd be delighted to hear from them

Perhaps it's necessary to point out that just because paints from different makers have the same index number it doesn't mean the shades will be identical. Pigment suppliers vary and it can happen that pigments from different sources, although supposedly the same, may well vary. In addition those like PV19 have a number of versions which is reflected in the finished paint. Another factor is how the paints are made by eack maker and what binders and other additives are used. I don't pretend to know the technical details and differences but they do exist.


indianagreg said...

Peter, I posted this information a while back regarding Aqua Green:


Peter Ward said...

Thanks Greg I'll follow this up.

Jane Blundell said...

Hi Peter. Lukas is the only other company to have a PG26 - Verona Green Earth - a really nice pine sort of green with granulation. I can email you the paintout though you can also find it and 3 of the others mentioned on my website.
Daniel Smith has PV55 Quinacridone Purple as you say - bright slightly red-purple.
White Nights has a PR187 - Madder Red Light.
W&N did a limited edition of Smalt some years ago and it's a pretty granulating blue-purple or rather purple-blue - warmer then ultramarine. PV15 comes in a few versions - a more blue-purple made also by Stephen Quiller and Blockx (called ultramarine violet) and very similar to Smalt, and a more pink version and another in between. You can compare them here - Purple watercolours with PV15
I don't know of any made with PBk29 but the Aqua Green looks very pretty if rather like PB16.

Zvonimir said...

All right, I think I have an answer, Peter.

I have explored a little, and here is brief summary. When producing a certain type of pigment, say PV15, pigment manufacturer can obtain different 'shades' of the colour, perhaps hundreds, depending on manufacturing process, which includes errors, trials, beginning of run, end of run, stability of process, etc.

However, when analysed spectrographically using instruments (similar to those used in print industry, to ascertain variation in colour print), the wavelengths of all those batches are still 'within the acceptable range' to be named PV15. Our eyes, though, are very sensitive to nuances, and we can tell the difference. In your tests of paints made from seemingly same pigments, but coming from different paint manufacturers like W&N, Daniel Smith or Schminke, paints appear to differ. We may think that is because of additives, but different manufacturers may use wholly different shade as their standard. Therefore numbers *after* the number 15, available to paint manufacturers but not to us. All paint manufacturers try to buy batches closer to their chosen shade.

What if all of them want to buy same, and at the same time, and there isn't enough of pigment available?

See chart below: it shows variations on PV15 and PV14, which one pigment manufacturer is able to obtain (or has saved them in stock) in quantities ready to be utilised. They may keep batches piling up, or offer them to some paint manufacturers at a discount, to make an interesting product out of them.

W&N reads industry newsletters, makes a phone call, takes a few tonnes of (PV)15583 for example, which looks 'bluer' than what they used to buy for PV15. In this case their colour expert says it look like old Smalt — why not use it? It is good marketing tool to expand colour range from time to time, and 5ml tubes are best for that. W&N purchases it, makes a limited run tube paint. Because the manufacturer of that pigment does not or can not produce that specific variation in larger quantities, W&N shall not commit and make the paint permanent part of collection. W&N also knows what their users usually buy, with what types of colour shades they are happy with, and can appreciate.

Colour recognition and appreciation is a cultural phenomenon, and W&N play according to accepted rules.

Chart link:

Zvonimir said...

One last point; it is indeed misleading to call this new colour Smalt if the composition of it is not historic Smalt. It may appear like it, but do not call it Smalt! I am not sure what is wrong with the world today, but it seems that lying and exaggeration has become a new norm of communication and marketing persuasion. Nonchalant reformulations, twists and use of "happy, new, much better" substitutes for the old and what the history has already defined and set in stone. I think some form of resistance must come from the lot of artists, and also better information, shared knowledge that will enable us intercept these twists and marketing rambling and put them in their real place.

Jane Blundell said...

Here here Zvonimir - if it's a hue it should be called a hue. I'd also like to see the 'brand naming' stop i.e. Winsor blue, Blockx green, etc - if they didn't invent it why do they have their names on it? Naming a paint by the pigment is far more useful eg quinacridone rose or phthalo blue etc.

indianagreg said...

Jane, I'm not whether you meant that apart from W&N's limited edition offering of PG26, only Lukas had a PG26 watercolor, OR if "3 of the others" includes manufacturers who offer PG26. So, to clarify for anyone who might be interested in PG26 paints, both Old Holland and Schmincke continue to offer PG26 watercolor paints ("Cobalt Green Deep" and "Cobalt Green Dark," respectively).

Jane, I do appreciate all the work you do in providing your paintouts! A valuable source of comparative reference material! And having somewhere read your review of W&N's (past) limited edition of Smalt, I was most pleased when they sent me a complimentary tube!

Jane Blundell said...

Yes I certainly worded it incorrectly - I should have said Lucas has the only other one you can see on my website with PG26. Sorry about that and thanks for clarifying. I'll have to add the Old Holland and Schmincke some day if I come across them :-)

I like the colour and granulation of the previous 'Smalt' but have never found a need for it, except to explore neutralising pairs with orange-yellows.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks to Zvonimir, Jane and Greg for these valuable insights. It's opened my eyes and given me a deeper understanding of the pigment world. Things are never so simple as they perhaps appear. In my own writings I keep things fairly simple as I don't pretend to have extensive technical knowledge.