October 05, 2018
If you’ve ever heard me talk about my watercolor paints, you’ll know that I’m a die-hard Winsor and Newton gal, and I don’t like to stray from my tried-and-true. (See my full list in my Intro to Watercolor Florals booklet!) However, Paul Rubens reached out to me to test their new palettes and brushes, so of course, I was curious to see how they would compare to my faves. They’re newer on the market and based in Hong Kong, so you probs won’t see them in your local art store just yet. (But I think you might find them there soon!!)
I’m going to be totally honest here, and let y’all know that I did not have high expectations for the product, but as soon as I opened the box, I was already tickled pink because the paint palette comes in the most adorable bubblegum pink box and matching pink paint palette tin. I mean, HOW STINKIN’ CUTE. I also LOVE the size of the palette because it’s perfect for traveling and pretty comparable to my Winsor and Newton travel set that’s seen the inside of my luggage quite a few times. Plus it's got this handy-dandy little hook on the back, which might be perfect for strapping onto your belt loop in true early 2000s cell phone fashion. #trendalert
I also love how the paint palette unfolds to reveal extra space for mixing and additional wells — an incredibly useful detail. It also comes with a sample of watercolor paper for your swatches, but it’s all in Chinese, so I sadly can’t read anything on it! The palette has 16 cakes, and I’ll list the colors below.
(note: I left the slight misspellings because I actually found it a bit charming haha.)
The color selection is fab, and it has all the essentials for mixing every color of the rainbow. Now let’s talk about the paint consistency. Most of the time I use tube paints and squeeze them into my own palette, so I can be a bit snobby about the paint blocks. (Hey, at least I admit it!) I think I still have some bad memories of chalky paint cakes that will forever haunt me. ANYWHO, these paints are the absolute furthest thing from chalky imaginable. I was blown away by the smooth consistency and ease of mixing. Just the slightest drop of water brought the color right to life — no churning needed.My first brush stroke legit felt like butter (more on the brushes later!). And y’all know how much I love butter, so that is the ultimate compliment. I loved the smooth quality, and I didn’t feel like I had to fight against the paper with the high pigment load.
While the paints are a true lightfast watercolor and not goauche, they are incredibly opaque and very vibrant so a little bit goes a long way. If you are into painting with pops of colors, these will truly float your boat! I prefer a bit more muted tones, so I was pleased to find that the colors mix well and aren’t prone to muddying since they are single pigment. The burned brown color did seem to be a smidge more granulated than the rest (as a general rule, the finer the particles of the paint, the less granulated. Certain colors have tendencies to be more granular than others.), but that just means the dried artwork will have a bit more texture to it, and that is A-okay with me! That’s one of the beautiful things about watercolor. Overall, it’s very easy to get bold colors with these paints, and for the price, you can’t beat this as a starter or a travel set. Plus it comes in A PINK PALETTE. (Hint: this would be a FAB Christmas gift, just sayin’.)
Once the paint dried, the colors were still just as vibrant. Watercolor dries about 30% lighter, but this seemed more like 10%. I really can’t emphasize just how vibrant these bad boys are.
Okay enough about the paint, let’s talk about the Paul Rubens brushes. (P.S. If you’re wondering who this Paul Rubens character is, he’s a 17th century Flemish artist who is credited with being a rockstar entreprenuer as well as classical artist, and even now the term “Rubenesque” is used to describe large ladies, just like the gals in his paintings.) The brush set also came in a fancy-shmancy box, and it included 4 round brushes. The #1 and #6 brush are weasel hair, and the #4 and #10 size are squirrel hair. And if you’re wondering if I’m really painting with rodent hair, the answer is yes. Squirrel hair brushes are soft and hold a TON of water, which makes them excellent for washes and loose details. The weasel hair brushes are my favorite of the two because of their “snap” and ability to form a very fine point. I like my brushes to have a little spring in their step because I can have a heavy hand when painting so this helps me to keep the strokes light and playful.
As some of the Kolinsky sable (weasel hair) brushes can run upwards of $100 a brush, I thought this set was very reasonably priced for adding true sable hair to your quiver. ($52.80 for four brushes). Round brushes are my absolute favorite for their versatility, so this set is basically a must-have for a watercolor artist. And of course, the fact that they come in a gift-ready box, safe and secure to prevent any wonky, bent brush tips is also a major plus in my book!
Overall, when it comes to choosing the best paints, it really depends on what YOU love, but I will always, always, always recommend starting with the top-of-the-line supplies. I'm pleasantly surprised that I'll be adding the Paul Rubens paint palette and brushes to that list! (Like I said, I did NOT have high expectations haha.)
Disclaimer: I received these products for free, but the opinions are my own.
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