Jackson’s Art Supplies sent a box of Jackson’s Professional Watercolours months ago and it has been a real pleasure getting acquainted. Whether the assembled kit or a custom set based on your specifications, the paint is artist quality and reasonably priced which makes it suited to the novice as well as the pro.
My box of full pan watercolors:
471 Chinese White PW4 PW6 – Series 2
103 Lemon Yellow PY3 – Series 2
129 Naples Yellow PY 35, PW4, PW6 – Series 2
160 Cadmium Red Light PR108 – Series 5
187 Genuine Carmine PV19
257 French Ultramarine Blue PB29 – Series 2
277 Phthalo Green Deep B.S. PG7, PB 15 – Series 2
282 Hooker’s Green PG7, PY83 – Series 2
362 Burnt Sienna PBr7 – Series 1
382 Venetian Red PR101, PY43 – Series 1
424 Payne’s Grey PBk7, PB15, PV19 – Series 2
445 Ivory Black PBk9 – Series 1
Highly pigmented watercolors can be toned down by adding another color like Neutral Tint, but muted or less saturated colors cannot be made brighter. Artist quality paints contain more pigment which is one of the best reasons to purchase them. All of the paints in my Jackson’s kit are very saturated though Burnt Sienna took more effort than the others to reach its full potential.
The plastic pans that hold the paints are identical to those from Daniel Smith, so they will fit many boxes besides those from Jackson’s. There is a sticky label with the item number, color name, and pigment formula on the bottom of each pan. Each color arrived individually packaged in a tiny plastic bag. It’s up to you to assemble the pans in whatever order suits your style. The plastic tray comes out easily so the box can be thoroughly cleaned without harm to the paint. There is a slot for a full-sized brush and four wells for mixing colors. The box opens flat so it is well set up for painting on the road.
My kit came with a different set of paints than the set pictured on the website. However, you can get the same light-weight metal tin free when you order your own selection of colors. It’s the best deal I’ve seen for a custom palette.
Jackson’s Watercolours are preserved with honey in addition to the usual gum arabic. Just as it can make the paint flow better, honey can cause it to harden more slowly. For those who fill pans with tube paint to set up their own kits, note that the paint may stay soft longer than you might expect. Store your kit in a horizontal position so the paint doesn’t migrate. The formed cakes don’t flow unbidden, but the surface can stay moist for days.
Like other brands of paint, Jackson’s did benefit from pre-wetting. A light spritz of distilled water from a spay bottle and a minute later, the colors were ready to go, fully saturated and at their peak. Jackson’s Watercolours have a lovely depth and brilliance. They mix easily for lively colors and produce clear pastels when diluted. Genuine Carmine is the only color used for the flowers which demonstrates the range it can achieve.
The blue blob was painted with French Ultramarine, Phthalo Green Deep, and Hooker’s Green to see how the colors would flow together.
The trees were painted to play with the range and to test a couple of new brushes. The center painting was done with an Isabey #0 Mop while the others were done with a variety of brushes. The 6 x 9″ paper for the left and middle paintings is Canson XL Aquarelle 300gsm. The sketch on the right is on a scrap of junk paper. The main colors are Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Red Light, French Ultramarine, Hooker’s Green, Burnt Sienna and Payne’s Gray.
Often I put together a simple palette with three paints and then let the resulting mixes suggest the subject. Mediterranean landscape on a stormy day? Desert at dawn? Mountain range in autumn? Tea and biscuits on a cafe table? Three colors are all it takes. There are no limits save skill at execution. Make it an abstract or loose interpretation, especially in a journal, and skill becomes less a factor.
If color moves you, then make that the focus. All you need is a watercolor kit like Jackson’s, a brush for washes, a detail brush, paper and a cup of water. It really is as simple as that. Add a fountain pen with a neutral ink to put words on your painting and you’ll have a mixed media composition. You may not consider yourself an artist or painter, but you are a creative person as your journal will attest.
My thanks to Jackson’s Art Supplies for sending the watercolor kit and giving me the opportunity to explore what their paints can do. My doodle journal will never be the same.
Note that the last image is watercolor on Tomoe River paper, but done with a dry brush since the paper is very thin. Still I must say it held up well with only a tiny amount of buckling that was easily pressed out tucked in a book.