Paletteful Packs – December 2022
Sennelier Aqua Mini Watercolor Set
The roots of Sennelier watercolors are to be found in the Impressionist school. At that time, painters drew their inspiration from nature and set out to reproduce natural light. Watercolor technique offered spontaneity, lightness of touch, fluidity and transparency allowing a quick translation of a particular light, vibration or shape. Paul Cézanne, for instance, produced forty or so watercolors of the Mont Sainte Victoire in Provence. Earlier on in England and on the Normandy coast in France, William Turner had turned painting in watercolors as an art form in its own right and had even managed to produce genuine masterpieces. Since then watercolors have become an established part of the history of painting. Artists love them because of their radiance and their spontaneity. It is such a pleasure when the painter plays with the light of the paper and the brightness of fleeting, intense pigments as they glisten, come together and swirl around under his brush producing a whole host of different effects.
A honey-based watercolor:
Honey is used in L’Aquarelle Sennelier not only as a preservative but as an additive giving incomparable brilliance and smoothness to the paint. Always striving for excellence, Sennelier has reworked its watercolor formula with increasing the amount of honey in the paint to reinforce the longevity of the colors, their radiance and luminosity.
Watercolors Made in France using traditional methods:
L’Aquarelle Sennelier has been produced in the same way for more than a century using the best pigments and top quality Kordofan Gum Arabic as a bonding agent. This mix of natural ingredients produces colors which have a smooth, bright texture and offer lively, colorful shades. The Gum Arabic and honey combination offers incomparable quality of application, producing superb washes. Then, this base is mixed with pigments and carefully ground. Sennelier makes sure to wet the pigments in purified water (with no mineral salts) for 24 hours before mixing them in with the bonding agent. This improves the way in which the colors and bonding merge together, in turn bringing out the full beauty of the colors.
Sennelier watercolors are ground in the traditional way using grindstones rotating slowly so as not to heat up the paste. This operation is carried out in several stages until the paste are as fine as possible thus getting rid of any particles which might impair the perfection of the wash.
This exceptional and very high quality watercolor will help you make your works even more powerful due to the liveliness and purity of the hues. The colors mix together perfectly, offering superbly subtle shades. These smooth, intense colors will be a genuine pleasure to paint with. The addition of honey will allow the pans of Sennelier watercolors to stand up to the passing of time and each time you will paint with them you will be able to accurately translate the diversity of light shape and hues.
LW’s note: Colours included: 574 Primary Yellow, 675 French Vermillion, 344 Cinereous Blue, 314 French Ultramarine Blue, 805 Phtalo. Green Light, 819 Sap Green, 202 Burnt Umber, 703 Payne’s Grey. The paints are very soft, dissolve easily after adding water and the colours are beautiful and vivid.
MSRP: $40.95. Available on ŚwiatArtysty for 99 PLN (22,30 USD).
Robert Simmons Sapphire 1/4″ Oval Round
The Sapphire line of brushes is designed for artists working in all mediums who love the pointing, color holding, spring and smooth application of natural sable, but also demand the durability associated with synthetic brushes. The handles are made of kiln-dried beechwood and the ferrules are precision engineered and 22 kt gold-plated. A unique blend of the finest red Kolinsky hair and synthetic filaments delivers the ultimate painting experience. Each brush is hand-made and carries a lifetime guarantee.
MSRP: $20.85 ea. Great brush, not available in Poland.
Robert Simmons Watercolor Brush #6 Round
This golden taklon brush has fibers of multi-diameter taklon to enhance color carrying capacity. Ideal for working in watercolors. Carefully balanced hardwood handles, lacquered in gloss enamel for comfortable working.
MSRP: $11.99 Great brush, not available in Poland.
Strathmore Watercolor Travel Pad
Created with Plein Air Painters and Urban Sketchers in mind, the Travel Series is designed to meet the needs of on-location artwork. Made with 100% cotton watercolor paper, the Travel Series is perfect for the artist who is looking for a tough and resilient surface for scrubbing, scraping and other rough techniques. The pad contains 12 sheets of 140lb cold press watercolor paper.
LW’s note: I love Strathmore’s papers. This one has a slight texture and the sheets are very thick. Even so, the paper feels sort of soft in touch. I’m not sure why is it a part of Travel Series and how it is better for painting outside than other papers other than due to its thickness and weight, the paper may not be prone to flying away on the wind.
MSRP: $20.95. Not available in Poland.
Legion Paper Stonehenge Aqua Cold Press Mini Pad
Stonehenge watercolor paper performs to the most critical demands expected by artists. This mini 140 lb. cold press paper pad dries flat and colors dry bright. Featuring 100% cotton fibers, Stonehenge is pH neutral, acid-free, lignin-free and delivers great results whether working wet, wet on dry, blending, lifting or masking out.
LW’s note: It’s a tiny paper pad. I’m not sure what can it be used for, other than sketching. The paper is smooth and quite thin but it works ok with watercolours. I don’t mind small formats but this pad is pretty unusable for me.
MSRP: 2.48. Not available in Poland
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil – Cloud Blue
Use this Cloud Blue pencil to sketch out your watercolor drawings or as highlights in in your composition. Prismacolor premium colored pencils have soft, thick leads, unmatched in brilliance, point strength and blending quality. They offer smooth, versatile coverage that can be vivid and intense in one stroke and subtle and soft in the next. The thick cores are made of permanent pigments in wax binder that resist fading, and due to a special bonding process, they also resist crumbling. The round cedar wood case is finished to match lead color.
MSRP: $2.20 ea. Available on Markery.pl for 11.50PLN.
LW’s note: I already own some Prismacolor Premier pencils and I love them and they’re one of my favourite brands. They are smooth and creamy and almost blend themselves without my help. I also wanted to buy this shade (Cloud Blue) for a while now and I got it in the pack, so I’m quite happy about it.
Paletteful Pack Prompt
- Prompt #1: Sky
- Prompt #2: Soft
- Prompt #3: Candle
- Prompt #4: Bird
This month I instantly knew what I wanted to paint. I recently started working in a company that has a bird in its logo and because I love my job, I decided to paint that bird. Actually I wanted to paint more than one bird – the other one would be a practice painting.
Sennelier Aqua-Mini’s metal case disappointed me a bit – it has a plastic “window” to see the paints and a tiny brush included, but no palette or any other area suitable for mixing colours. I expected something similar to Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketchers palette that is located on the case’s lid, but here, because of the “window”, you don’t have enough space for a palette. Furthermore, the Cotman’s free brush is foldable, so after assembling, it’s much more comfortable to use than the Sennelier one.
Other than the packaging, the paints are in my opinion better than the Cotman ones. They are ready to use pretty much seconds after applying some water to them. As I mentioned before, the paints’ colours are wonderful – vivid, and saturated; my favourite ones are Sap Green (the darker green), which reminds me of summer grass, and Payne’s Gray which reminds me of the opposite – of winter nights. The paints seem to lack the “dust” that is visible in the Cotman paints so the colours look “clearer”.
I really like the Sennelier paints after trying them out but I think I’ll buy a better box/case for them, as well as several additional colours.
The tiny paper pad
The tiny Stonehenge Aqua Coldoress paper has small grain and initially, it bends from adding water. It’s quite thin but seems surprisingly dense. The Sennelier watercolours dry on it without the typical watercolour outline.
At first, I didn’t like this paper but I gave it another chance and I realised it’s not as bad as I thought it was. In fact, it’s actually quite good. My problem with it is its size though, I can’t imagine what sort of a situation could make it useful for me.
I always say I love Robert Simmons brushes, especially the Sapphire series and I haven’t changed my mind. In this case, the only note I have is that the additional brushes in the pack were way too big to use on the miniature Stonehenge paper. Fortunately, the small brush included in the Sennelier watercolours case worked just fine.
The Strathmore paper
As with Robert Simmons brushes, the Strathmore papers are definitely one of my favourites (the other ones being SM-LT) since I first tried my first one, also thanks to Paletteful Packs.
This one though, even though it is a great paper, it’s not among my favourite Strathmore papers. It’s thick and durable but for some reason, it feels flimsy, as if it had a really low density.
The Sennelier paints look great on this paper, even with my lack of watercolours experience. The paper has a quite thick texture which looks great with watercolours. The paints mix without any issues, but, differently, than it was with the Stonehenge paper, they dry with that watercolour outline on this paper.
After adding a bigger amount of water (for example for background “washes”), the paper bends quite significantly, but when it dries, it mostly comes back to its original shape. Depending on how much water you used in your picture, you might need to apply some additional flattening to the paper after you’ve finished the painting.
Aside from bending from water, the paper is still very durable. The masking tape comes off it easily and without causing any damage and even the more intrusive masking gel (from Pentart) that sometimes damages paper, didn’t damage this one. It’s important to note though, that the gel stained the paper yellow a bit, so you might want to avoid it if the “cleanliness” of the colours is important to you.
For my practice sketch, I really wanted to paint a tit (the bird!) because it would match my chosen prompt but also I really like the green-blue gradient on these birds’ feathers and I wanted to recreate it with watercolours.
The final picture sure isn’t perfect but I’m pretty happy with it. I think I learned some things from it and I also got to use some watercolour techniques I’ve never tried before.
Here is the painting process:
For my final artwork this month I wanted to paint a bright red Northern cardinal – as I said, it’s pretty symbolic to me, but it would also give me a chance to test the colours I haven’t used much in the previous painting and I could try to achieve just slight tone changes with red watercolour.
Here is the painting process:
And that’s it for today, thank you very much for reading!
As always, I have a couple of questions for you 🙂 Have you tried Sennelier watercolours? If yes, do you prefer them over any other watercolours? Have you tried liquid watercolours? If yes, do you prefer them over the ones in pans? Let me know in the comments!