Henry Newton and William Winsor introduced their range of moist watercolours almost 200 years ago in 1832 and, since that time, Winsor & Newton Artists’ Watercolours have been the benchmark against which all other watercolours have been judged. Formulated and manufactured using only the best of ingredients, they remain the reliable choice for any artist wishing to subject themselves to the difficulties inherent in producing good watercolour paintings. Few artists need to be told of the excellence of these paints. The quality ingredients used in their manufacture, the constant testing and the impeccable manufacturing processes guarantee quality that never disappoints.

Levens Hall Park, Autumn, Winsor & Newton Professional Water Colour, (36x53cm)
The limited-edition colours integrate perfectly with other colours in the Professional Water Colour range when painting subjects other than desert scenes

Regional palettes

The range of colours was always large, with 70 listed in the 1849 catalogue.
Over the years colours have been added and some have been discontinued for reasons such as toxicity, unavailability of the pigment, lack of permanence or close resemblance to another colour in the range. The watercolour range has recently been rebranded and is now known as Professional Water Colour rather than Artists’ Watercolour.

With the current range standing at 96 colours it could be thought that the choice was extensive enough to satisfy even the most demanding of artist, but true to the Winsor & Newton ethos of constant improvement and innovation a range of limited-edition colours has been introduced. The concept is based on the researched theme of regional palettes that has resulted in ‘a broad spectrum of limited-edition colours which can be used by both classic and contemporary artists.’ Based on the rich earth colours found in the Australian outback, the Desert collection contains six colours. But are these colours really necessary and do they offer anything other than that which is already available?

The new colours are Indian red deep; transparent orange, gold brown, yellow titanite, dark brown, and phthalo sapphire. All are manufactured from single pigments, which needless to say helps greatly in obtaining clean, bright colour mixes.

The paints are rated A or AA permanence or ASTM I: Excellent Lightfastness. Interestingly all are Series 3 and priced at £6.40 for a 5ml tube, which is relatively expensive and might put them low down on the shopping list of many impoverished artists, or even ‘professionals’ who use a tried and tested palette of colours. This, however, should not deter you from trying them, and discounts can always be found.

Village in the High Atlas Morocco, Winsor & Newton Professional Water Colour, (36x53cm)
The range of paints was perfect for depicting this village, built from the rocks and mud that surround it. No other colours were used


As one would expect from this company, all the paints performed very well and all mixes were clean – with some pleasant surprises. I loved the Indian red deep, and this could easily find a permanent place on my palette, as I think could the transparent orange. I found the phthalo sapphire a slightly more sympathetic and less strident blue than previous phthalo blues that I have used. The yellow titanate certainly is a fine substitute for the sometimes dull yellow ochre and the simply named dark brown is an ideal neutral brown to use in granulating mixes. All the colours stained the paper to a degree but all are resoluble when dry, which makes it possible to remove or lift off a lot of pigment by rewetting. Nice water marks resulted from dropping clean water into semi-dry washes.

Although the colours where inspired by those seen in the Australian outback they can of course be used for all subjects and all make superb mixes that capture the colours seen in places such as Venice or Provence. I have no doubt that these new additions to the list of Winsor & Newton watercolours will be well received. Any addition that makes the painting process easier and fire up those sometimes elusive creative urges can only be a good thing. I wait with anticipation to see if more limited-edition colours are introduced in the future.


Phthalo sapphire PB15.6

This is made from epsilon copper phthalocyanine, which is used to make a range of named blues. Adding cool yellows will create beautiful deep rich turquoise hues whilst adding cool reds gives equally divine purples. It is relatively transparent.

Indian red deep PBr25

Made from organic benzimidazolone, which is used in various named browns. More intense than Indian red, beautiful deep purples result when mixed with blues, whilst adding yellows to light mixes gives a range of nice olive greens. It is semi opaque at full strength. This colour reminds me of purple madder alizarin, a favourite colour of mine that was discontinued several years ago and replaced with a slightly less punchy, although permanent, brown madder.

Transparent orange PO107

This is a zingy bright red orange which, when mixed with blues and yellows, creates lovely rich skin colours that are ideal for painting portraits and figure work. Creates bright orange mixes when mixed with yellows. As the name suggests, this colour is transparent.

Dark brown PY164

Made from manganese antimony titanium buff rutile, an inorganic pigment used in various named browns, it’s similar to Vandyke brown but less red. It makes lovely greys when mixed with blues and dull greens when yellow is added. This colour is relatively transparent and showed a pleasingly moderate degree of granulation when mixed with blues.

Yellow titanate PBr24

Made from chrome antimony titanate, an inorganic pigment used to make a range of different named yellows including Winsor & Newton Naples yellow deep. Subtle oranges and pinks result when it’s mixed with reds and when mixed with Winsor violet it makes a range of lovely light browns. It is semi opaque at full strength.

Gold brown PBk12

Made from iron titanium brown spinal, an inorganic pigment used to make a range of different named browns, this semi-opaque colour is not dissimilar to, but is slightly duller than, quinacridone gold. Mixed with blues it creates a range of lovely subtle greys.

COLOUR SWATCH: Left to right: Phthalo sapphire; Indian red deep; transparent orange; dark brown; yellow titanite; gold brown