I don’t know what got under my skin this past week, but I suddenly needed to own a set of watercolors. I have hundreds of markers, dozens of acrylics, 100+ gel pens, and a growing collection of inks, but somehow I’d yet to empty my bank account in the name of colorful watercolor half pans. It simply’d not do!
I have so many different type of water soluble supplies, most of them professional quality, but I realized that the only decent water color set I own is one that had been given to me about 8 years ago, and it’s withered to almost nothing. After a little research, I decided upon a pretty set of half pan water colors by the company Prima, as they seemed affordable and included an array of colors that is both varied and beautiful!
I have this things with art supplies: if I don’t go all out and get a set, then I feel restricted by my palette, and become blocked. When this happens, I either end up not using them or completing the set almost instantly. This an expensive problem to have, but when it comes to art supplies, it’s not like I’m not going to use them if I have “too many,” so I tell myself it’s okay to just get sets. (That, and I like to complain about this problem to my husband, who then just tells me to just buy it, so who am I to argue?) The nice thing about the Prima brand Watercolor Confections is that they are currently available in 5 set of 12 colors, which means the entire collection allows for one to have 60 different color options pre-mixing.
1 of the 5 sets, however, includes only metallic colors (the newest set, the Shimmering Lights palette) which is not something that I would use regularly. I did not purchase Shimmering Lights until after I had used these 4 sets, so I cannot comment on it. The 4 sets that I did purchase include “The Classics,” “Tropicals,” “Decadent Pies,” and “Pastel Dreams.”
Each set includes:
• 12 Individually wrapped half pans of watercolor paint
• 1 watercolor tin (holds 12 half pans or 6 whole pans)
• 1 pre-printed and annotated swatch paper (fits in tin)
The Classics set includes basic primary colors, secondary colors, magenta, grayscale colors, and a brown. This set is perfect for an individual who is looking to own only one set, as it includes most necessary colors for the mixing of a complete pallet. The Tropicals set includes bold tertiary colors and variations thereof, as well as a warmer brown color. The Decedent Pies set consists of four neutral colors, four metallic colors, and four darker tertiary colors. The Decedent Pies set is best for portrait artists due to it’s flesh tones and colors that seem to be perfect for eye colors. The Pastel Dreams set seems to be pastel versions of many colors included in the Tropicals set, which one would be unable to achieve without white, a color only included in The Classics set.
The paint in each set is assigned a number as relating to all colors in the Watercolor Confections series. The Classics include colors 1-12, Tropicals include colors 13-24, Decadent Pies include colors 25-36, and Pastel Dreams include colors 37-48. These numbers are printed onto paper (seen above) and is wrapped around each half pan of paint. Before purchasing, I read a review that recommended purchasers of these sets to write each color’s assigned number on the bottom of the individual pans, and am passing that information along as fantastic advice!! Having the number permanently attached to each color allowed for me to reorganize my pallets as I saw fit, without questioning which colors came from which sets.
I started by removing all half pans from the sets, and based on the color of the papers wrapping each half pan, I organized the colors in a ROYGBIV fashion, keeping the pink colors with the red hues. Once in place, I unwrapped each color, writing the assigned number with a sharpie onto the bottom of each individual pan. This can be seen below. If you purchase a watercolor confections set, I recommend this immensely!
As previously mentioned, I don’t have a lot of dry pan watercolor experience, so I cannot compare these to many other watercolor sets, but this is what I can tell you from using and researching these sets: the colors mix well, are highly pigmented, are not chalky when dry if used on watercolor paper, and are rated by the manufacturer to be extremely lightfast. Once used, many of the colors have a textured consistency after drying, but I have yet to notice any texture in the watercolor once made wet and in use; this texture may not look too great, but it seems inconsequential. This texture can be seen in the image above and below. Another thing that I questioned was the sizing of these pans, but as someone who has only owned large watercolor sets, the tiny half pans seemed almost too small to use. However, after a couple days spent playing with the Watercolor Confections, the fact that these half pans are slightly smaller than a US quarter is no longer an issue.
I swatched each color onto the papers that came with each set, but crossed out the numbers, as my tins are no longer in the order of which they arrived. This paper is sturdy, but has an odd amount of sheen to it for paper destined to be watercolored upon. I recommend using these in the tins, as they fit and are pretty accurate to color, but I also recommend swatching each color in a sketchbook or on the paper with which they will be most frequently used.
As you can see in the photo above, I have mapped out my tins based on hues, keeping a record of the original color collections in my watercolor sketchbook. This way, if I discover I’m running out colors from a specific set, I will know which on to reorder. Having swatches in the tin and in my sketchbook is convenient for later work, but I also decided to label the exterior of each tin in order to dertermine which tins contained which hues without needing to open each pan set.