Jenny Harris reviews the Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolour Field Pocket Set
The Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolour Field Pocket Set is very compact, the case is made from durable plastic and it comes in a rather stylish deep violet.
The back of the presentation box shows the colours contained in the set, and there is also a useful colour chart showing the full Professional Watercolour range.
Winsor & Newton say of the range “Our Professional Watercolour is still formulated according to our founding principles to create unparalleled colours which offer artists the widest and most balanced choice of pigments.”
There are 108 colours in the range, 104 of which are rated AA or A for permanence and lightfastness, and 79 of them are single pigment colours.
Although I originally started out painting with Winsor & Newton watercolour, I now also use other brands, all in tube form which allows for a quick application of saturated colour, so I was interested to see how I would find working with the pans.
The set contains:
- 12 half pans of Winsor & Newton Professional watercolour
- Three mixing areas
- Water bottle (35 ml)
- Detachable lid which also acts as a water container
- Small synthetic sable watercolour brush (approx. size 1)
- Small sponge
- The 12 half pan watercolours are made from the finest pigments.
- The durable plastic case is compact and lightweight.
- The set has been cleverly designed to include everything needed for outdoor painting.
- You can easily swap out colours if required.
- There is a thumb ring on the back with which to hold the set whilst painting.
- It fits neatly into a pocket or small bag, making it an ideal travelling set for producing watercolour sketches outdoors.
Where to buy: Art Supplies with Painters Online
The colour palette is rather basic, but will allow a wide range of colours to be mixed.
Most of the colours included are ones I wouldn't normally use, especially Payne’s gray and ivory black. As greys and blacks can be easily mixed, I would have preferred to see indigo and Winsor violet included instead.
Using the set
To remove the wrappers from the pans, the centre section lifts up to release the pans, then slots back in with a clip at the top to hold the pans in place.
The section at the top holding the sponge would take two additional half pans if the sponge was removed (perhaps stored in the lid while travelling).
The lid acting as the water container clips to the end of the case, and the brush is in two parts enabling the brush end to be kept inside the handle when not in use.
Painting with the set
I don’t paint outdoors, so I painted a simple landscape (see above) at home, using just the contents of the set as if working outside.
I’m used to painting with a small brush, so was comfortable using it throughout and found it handled well, lifting the colours easily from the pans, producing strong washes of clean, bright colour which remained clean after mixing.
I had thought there might not be enough water in the bottle to keep the water clean for the whole painting, but when the full 35ml was poured into the water container I found it was enough, especially when using such a small brush, although if using a lot of darks, it might be useful to wipe the brush on some tissue before rinsing and applying the next colour. There would be room in the lid to store some tissue while travelling.
The mixing area on the bottle is deeper than the other two mixing areas and holds enough for a reasonable sized wash, although for those wanting to do more expansive washes, a bigger brush and another bottle of water would probably be needed.
I didn’t use the sponge and will probably take this out and replace it with two half pans of permanent rose and green gold, as these are the colours I most often use.
My first painting was on Saunders Waterford High White NOT, 300 lbs. size 19 x 22cm.
The colours used were alizarin crimson, French ultramarine, permanent sap green, cadmium-free yellow, burnt sienna and burnt umber. I also used a Faber Castell PITT artist pen.
Permanent sap green was the only colour I hadn’t used before, and mixing the greens was challenging as I usually use a few ready made greens, but I stuck to the colours provided.
For a second painting (16 x 20cm), above, I still used only the colours provided in the set, but painted with a larger brush, a synthetic Pro Arte Prolene Plus, size 8 round.
I also used the same watercolour paper and artist pen as before. Colours used were French ultramarine, burnt umber, Winsor lemon and cadmium-Free red.
I started with a fairly wet wash to bring out the granulation in the French ultramarine, and added the burnt umber and Winsor lemon directly to the paper.
When the first wash was dry, I continued by strengthening some of the background colour and added further cadmium-free red to finish the birds – I had thought I would need to mix a colour for this, but found the cadmium-free red produced a lovely soft colour on its own. It’s not a colour I’ve used before, but will use again.
This cleverly designed little pocket set has everything needed for outdoor watercolour sketching. The only negative for me was the choice of colours in the set, but the pans can easily be swapped out.
Although I don’t paint outdoors, I will continue to use the set - the paints are lovely to work with, and it will be useful for painting indoors if time or space is limited.
Compared to tube paints, the pans take no time to prepare and are very convenient to use.
There are colours in the Winsor & Newton Professional range that I would like to try and I will buy a few of these in pan form.
As far as value for money is concerned, the full RRP is quite expensive, but the set can be bought at a discounted price and is a product which should last for many years.
About Jenny Harris
Jenny painted and drew throughout her schooldays but took up painting again 12 years ago when she joined a watercolour class. Jenny has had work exhibited for several years in our annual TALP Open Art competitions. Her main interest is in colour and design and most of her work is quite stylised and often illustrative.
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