Tuesday 26 March 2019

Winsor & Newton 'Cadmium Free' Watercolours

Winsor & Newton have introduced seven new paints which they say act exactly like the Cadmium versions but without the toxicity. They call them 'Cadmium Free' after the names, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Red etc. In addition three other paints have been introduced Smalt (Dupont's Blue),  Transparent Orange and Quinacridone Violet (PV55).  All these paints are in Series 4 - the most expensive. I have e-mailed W & N to ask for the pigment details and will post their answer (if I get one).

Smalt was available as part of a special 5ml edition in 2016. Presumably due to demand it is now part of the full range. Here there is a problem, if you like to call it that. The paint is based on PV15 which in my book is Ultramarine Violet so should be called a 'hue'. The true Smalt had a different composition.

Transparent Orange is shown on the website as Pigment 'DPP' but on the colour chart comes up as PO107. I've never heard of this one and neither has the Pigment Database which ends at PO86. Interesting must be a new one. Quinacridone Violet is PV55, first introduced by Daniel Smith. The pigment database calls it 'Quinacridone Purple' and says 'it is claimed superior to Quinacridone Violet PV19 and close to PV23'. I bought the DS version and eventually discarded it as the paint went solid in the tube.

Looking at the 'Professional' range in total the number offered is 109, 100 plus in 5ml, 96 in 14ml and 24 in 37ml. There are also 95 in half pans and 72 in full pans. Current W & N prices at Jacksons are (14ml) Series 1 £9.80, Series 2 £11.30, Series 3 £13.10 and Series 4 £15.40! These are stiff and have escalated over the last year, as have many others.

At the moment my recommendations using my markers of price and quality together  are first choice LUKAS in 24ml which may be too much for some unless you use a lot of paint. An alternative is Sennelier who offer both 10ml and 21ml tubes, while I'm considering giving Shin Han another try. I might also try Turner. The other option is the new Van Gogh range, increased to 72. My main reservation with the Van Gogh is the smallish number of single pigment paints but nevertheless there are some interesting newcomers amongst the range. I realise of course that personal preference plays a large part in choosing what to buy. I think however one should have an open mind as prices  of top ranges are reaching stupid levels for keen amateurs or just hobby painters. Ron Ranson used Cotman and thought the whole thing was a con, while my friend Zvonimir regards it is as ripoff since the pigments in watercolours are the same as in oils and acrylics, which are not as expensive volume for volume. In addition to the above suggestions have a look at house brands like Jacksons, the SAA and Bromleys. In the US all the big dealers offer them and some are very well-regarded.

I have received the following reply to my queries from Debbie at Winsor & Newton:

'Since we have developed Cadmium Free colours we cannot give the pigments away for other companies to use. We have spent years perfecting these colours to mimic as close as possible the original Cads and we are protecting our own interests.
Transparent Orange contains pigments that are not registered with the ASTM this means that the ASTM (the America Society for Testing and Materials) has not given it a C.I. number. D.P.P stands for Diketo-Pyrrolo-Pyrrol. Additional Note: On Jacksons website PO107 is shown on the details for the new Transparent Orange.

I have to say this concerns me. Since Handprint stopped updating pigment details and testing them I know for a fact some companies are changing pigments without altering the packaging. Others seem less inclined to give details. Most of the makers websites do still give details but it is getting harder to find them.


Zvonimir said...

I always read your articles, and thank you for a very fine one this time. You are correct, this whole watercolour paint 'supply' scheme is problematic. I think it is time I finally do an experiment I wanted to do for some time: buy a few tubes of 60ml average acrylic paint (4-8£ each), squeeze it out, separate pigment from the binder, and see how much pigment I get out of it.

My conservative estimate is 30 ml worth of pigment per tube, which would suffice to make ... 45-60ml of watercolour paint using the watercolour medium. Let's say we get 45 ml only. That is equivalent of 3 x 15ml tubes, which sell at .. 3 x £13 (average "Artist Quality W/C" tube) = £40.

Let's say we pay 1£ for the spoon of watercolour medium required for 30ml of extracted pigment to make into the paint, and behold: we reach the total cost of 9£. This vs 40£ for the same amount of "Artist Quality" watercolour paint! It is 1:4 increase in price!

Now, let's introduce Cotman range into the calculus; I see 21ml tubes go for £4.80 each at Jackson's. That is just under £10 for 42ml of Cotman watercolour paints, close to our mark of £9 for 45ml. It tells that Cotman range is fairly priced compared to other mediums like Acrylics. But "Artist Quality W/C paints" are not fairly priced!

Only because they are badged as the "Artist Quality W/C", their price is — quadrupled! We are cheated indeed: "Artists Quality W/C paints" are claptrap, a smart con-game invented to loot the enthusiasts (who buy them the most).

indianagreg said...

The other (not cadmium subs) "new" paints are selections taken from past limited edition sets. While as limited editions they were only available in 5ml tubes, now there are 14ml and half pan options. Surely the 14ml tube present a better value per ml than the 5ml size.

As I recall, Jane Blundell was favorably impressed with the transparent orange, but I don't know that she did a permanency test.

Peter, in your April 1, 2014 post you said artiscreation described PO107 as "bright reddish orange." That website doesn't say anything about it now. But I went back to archive.org and found it in April 2014!


Following some of the links on the archived site takes one to BASF's press release. Apparently, PO107 is another automotive use pigment.

I posted this at wetcanvas a few years ago: The aqua green was a new pigment without an index number. W&N emailed me information and I ultimately found this: According to Sun Chemicals (http://www.brenntagspecialties.com/en/downloads/Products/Pigments_Colorants/Sun_Chemical/Sun_Chemical_Pigments_For_Coatings.pdf), the pigment is listed as 264-4900, Palomar® Turquoise, Chlorinated Cu-Phthalocyanine. It seems to be considered lightfast, transparent, and for automotive use.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks both for very useful comments. As usual Zvonimir your insight is very welcome. Thanks Greg for info including PO107. That';s a strange one. I wonder why.
The 14ml size is obviously better than 5ml as far as economy goes. Nevertheless they do seem to use these 'innovations' to hike the prices up. Series 4 14ml £15.40 and bear in mind this is already less than the 15ml offered by most of the others.

indianagreg said...

I wonder how much VAT is included in what you've quoted for the UK? In the US aqua green, cobalt green deep, and transparent orange are each $11.80 on Cheapjoes (Blick only has the aqua green). Interestingly, the non-cad tubes are available at both retailers and are priced at the same level as their cad versions ($15.30). All prices are for 14ml.

indianagreg said...

I had thought about purchasing all three a few years ago, but didn't because of the size and that I thought they'd not be permanently offered by W&N. Maybe now....

Peter Ward said...

VAT is 20%

D Corwin said...

In the past companies sold the prestigious cadmium pigments at elevated prices and "amateur" pigments replacements at a lower price point. These amateur pigments were various synthetic compounds. Now that the cadmiums are no longer as desirable, the organic synthetic compounds are being marketed as special and expensive. In reality, almost all the organic synthetic pigments exist because they are used in the automobile industry and are therefore quite inexpensive. PPricing is just another aspect of marketing.

i.e. I was given a set of cotman many years ago cadmium yellow hue was marked as being PY65 and PY97. Alizarin crimson hue was quinacridone PR206. Of course, the precise pigment is not everything, but it gives a good idea of their marketing.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments. This just reiterates what I and Zvonimir have been saying. We're being taken for a ride.

Grainne said...

You mention that you've considered trying Turner watercolors. I like to share that I am using Turner (along with a few Cotman) paints with my students in my studio because although they are all hobbyists of varying experience levels, I still want them to have the joy that painting successfully in watercolor brings. This joy in ease of use can only be achieved with good paper first (we use Arches 140# not and Bee paper 100% cotton rag for practices), a good quality of paint, and a few good quality brushes. This success can be achieved with relatively few tubes of paint as well.

That all being said, these are not people who can afford the "designer" paints and materials that are being hyped and offered at ever-increasing prices now. My students are mostly people with various illnesses from MS to cancer who are using the classes as a therapeutic experience that aids in their healing. I also have girls in from a local shelter for abused girls for the same purposes, which I offer for free along with providing the materials. The classes mean so much to them, and so it disturbs me when they come to class saying that this or that "artist" on YouTube says that they must have this or that paint or brush, that they cannot be successful using Cotman watercolors, or that Daniel Smith is the only way to go. I know, but they don't, that all this is mostly hype that's driving the market for ever increasing profits on the part of the manufacturers and the artists using the materials. Some of the people hawking art materials on YouTube are barely above amateur level themselves, if that, and are using their channels to make a living. That's understandable to a degree, I suppose but not when they spread misinformation or when they create create discontent.

Although I have always used Winsor Newton, Daniel Smith, Schmincke, and Da Vinci paints myself, I am finding now that I am enjoying using the Turner paints with my students, except of course that Turner doesn't offer a few of the pigments that I enjoy from Daniel Smith. We are all getting excellent results from the Turner paints. I'm very careful to be sure that paints I recommend to my students are lightfast.

The extravagant things that are being promised if "you'll only use this paint or that brush" is regrettable because it tends to make people "collectors" of materials rather that users. In fact, I hear many people on line talking about adding this or that to their "collection" as though the bigger the collection of paint, or brushes, or palettes they have, the more successful they will be as artists. The joy for them mostly seems to be in amassing materials, more than in using them. "Art haul" videos get many views, I suppose.

As Robert Frost once wrote in his poem, "At Woodward's Gardens," "It's knowing what to do with things that counts." That's the bottom line!

Well, what started out as a recommendation for Turner paints, which can be had at reasonable prices, has turned into a rant. I'm sorry!

Peter Ward said...

No it isn't a rant. Unfortunately profit has become the be-all and end -all these days and is leading the World to a destructive future. People like you should be honoured for the work you do and I wish you the best for the future.

D Corwin said...

The idea of a limited edition of Winsor Newton watercolor pigments as mentioned by Indianagreg is absolutely ludicrous.

It might have been a marketing trial.

I do wonder if the same firms grinds more finely their watercolor earth pigments and inorganic pigments than their acrylic versions. I think that most organic pigments are fine powders without grinding.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments. See what Zvonimir says about this topic. I just think they are taking us for a ride. The prices of 'artists' quality watercolours are horrendous. There are an increasing number of cheaper alternatives though, house brands - usually made by the named manufacturers - and the asian makes.

BoguĊ› said...

Looks like pecunia not olet. It saddens me in particular as I have had Winsor and Newton in the highest regard. They were the first to tell the public what they use and why (Aurora yellow, or Aureolin, wink wink) and carried on the quality to the uppermost level. I have in my possession their London series zinc yellow, genuine Ivory black, or carmine (water colour pan). As much as I am not fond of cadmiums-for me they do not exhibit the luminosity of chrome yellows and dry too long, I am inclined to support any infringement upon their existence. They are history but cannot be cast into oblivion. Still, whatever they have been replaced with, it remains just a hue, not the genuine product. The marketing ploy Winsor and Newton exerts upon the customers is rather unethical from the point of transparency. Either we know what we are getting (cf. Kremer Pigmente, Michael Harding, Maimeri, what not) or we are tricked into some fraud of sorts.

A final reminder, an excerpt from a book (19th century), endorsed nomen-omen by Winsor and Newton back in a day:

"Cadmium (yellow) it is at present rather expensive; an objection which will probably soon be removed on its becoming more generally employed."

Winsor and Newton, shame on you.

Peter Ward said...

Hi Bogus

I'm afraid I'm very cynical about the behaviour of several of the Manufacturers.

Agric said...

I've tried ten Turner watercolours and have been extremely pleased by their value and quite pleased by their quality. Probably more prone to air pockets than more expensive paints, perhaps more liquid / prone to separation than some. Individual paints:
PB28 Turquoise blue - outstanding, probably a permanent place in my palette of 12
PB29 Ultramarine - more finely ground / less granulating than some, good
PB36 Cerulean blue - nice, good sky colour, moderate granulation
PB82 Maya blue - average, unlikely to use this pigment (not the paint's fault)
PR122 Quin Magenta - very good, intense
PR254 Pyrrole red - intense, lifts easily, very good
PG36 Phthalo green YS - good, better than Cotman PG36 IMO
PY154 Permanent yellow - nice paint, good choice as single mid yellow (though I prefer PY138 for that role, sadly only from DS and DR)
PY110 Permanent yellow orange - good, but I'm unlikely to use much
PBr7 Burnt sienna - decent intensity, lifts easily, good

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Agric - most useful.

Homepride (art and then some) said...

The Lamborghini 2006/2007 Murcielago used PO107 Ciba® IRGAZIN® DPP Cosmoray™ Orange plus 3-5% real gold...

Homepride (art and then some) said...