REVIEW: Jane Davenport’s Watercolor Palettes

Across North America, these little watercolor palettes were flying off the shelves faster than Michael’s could restock them. The high demand–or should we say davenfrenzy–inspired a member of Jane Davenport’s Mixed Media Facebook Group to nickname the twin palates “unicorn items,” along with the equally elusive Mermaid Markers, both part of Jane’s new Mixed Media Collection with American Crafts, which was released in North America in January of this year.

A top view of the open Jane Davenport watercolor tin showing the mixing area and all 12 bright watercolor pans.

Now that Michael’s has made the entire Jane Davenport collection part of their permanent stock (and it’s available for worldwide distribution), those still waiting to find these watercolors should be in luck soon!

Today, I will review the brights palette, a set of 12 half-pan watercolors in an adorable turquoise tin that fits in your hand with a thumb ring to keep it secure. Also available is its  twin, the neutral palette, a set of carefully chosen warm hued primary colors and earth pigments in a pretty gold tin.

So, are these watercolors really #worththewait?

In my opinion, absolutely yes! If you are new to watercolor, or have never splurged to buy premium paints, you are going to be absolutely delighted with the petite palette!

The pigment load and vibrancy of these paints are good for the price point ($30 USD), which is in line with other high quality student-grade watercolor sets. In general the brights–and are they ever bright–wet easily and mix beautifully. The comparatively low cost of the petite palette when compared to professional quality watercolors makes it an excellent choice for the beginner or student.

These paints are not meant to be used to paint fine art that will be sold or displayed, as many of the colors have low light-fastness ratings. But this is of little consequence to art journalers, or artists who want to have some lovely, inexpensive convenience colors at their disposal for sketching.

Though I use professional grade tube watercolors in the studio, I’d been wanting to get a portable and affordable set of pan paints to take with me traveling. The set fits my needs perfectly, and I couldn’t be happier with them. There’s even enough room in between the pans to add up to six more half-pans if desired!

A photograph of the Jane Davenport turquoise watercolor tin, with the palette of 12 bright pan watercolors shown beside it.

Opacity and Staining Swatch

As you can see from my test swatch below, all but one (70s Eye Shadow) of the watercolors  in this set are transparent, which means once they’re dry you can glaze over them, layering up color to your heart’s content! Along the bottom of this swatch, I’ve tested for staining properties by lifting up damp color with clean water and a brush.

The test swatches of all 12 pan colors from the brights palette on watercolor paper.

Since Jane was thoughtful enough to share the pigment details and light-fastness ratings on her palate product page, I am able to tell you their usual names and tell you a bit about the unique properties of each brilliantly saturated color.

Mermaid – “Phthalo Green” – PG7

Phthalo green

This is my favorite color in the Brights Palette! Commonly found in professional watercolor lines, Chlorinated copper phthalocyanine–the pigment’s chemical name–is strongly tinted, which means a little goes a long way.

Though you can certainly lift up highlights to some degree, it is a heavily staining pigment.

Excellent light fastness.

Jimminy – “Phthalo Yellow Green” – PG7 + PY14

Jimminy is a bright green color, shown here in a watercolor swatch.

A combination of Mermaid + Buzzy, this cool lime green is ever so slightly warmer than Daniel Smith’s Phthalo Yellow Green.

Moderate light fastness.

Buzzy – “Diarylide” – PY14

Buzzy watercolor swatch.

A cool leaning yellow, this student-grade pigment is usually used in inks. Just a small amount of this paint seems to go on forever, much like a busy bee!

Moderate light fastness.

Ladybug – “Lithol Rubine” – PR57:1

Ladybug red paint swatch. from Jane Davenport's

Ladybug is made from a synthetic dye also used as a food coloring. And it is scrumptious! This cool leaning red mixes well, and is especially nice for use in skin tones.

Excellent light fastness.

Best Friend – “Rhodamine” – PR81

Pink watercolor paint called

Made from a fluorescent dye called rhodamine, Best Friend is 80s Barbie Bright!

The package swatches for this color are inaccurate (why this is so became apparent to me upon attempting to scan and photograph my own swatch). It seems the scanner has trouble picking up Best Friend, and the camera washes it out in bright light. So keep this in mind if you’re planning to digitize your artwork!

The swatch above was photographed in the shade, and brightened digitally in order to accurately represent its vibrancy.

Low light fastness.

Fairy Tale – “Rhodamine” – PR81

Watercolor paint swatch of fairytale.

Fairytale is rosier, and ever so slightly darker than it’s rhodamine sister, Best Friend. Though less so, it also loses some vibrancy when scanned.

Moderate light fastness.

Royal – “Dioxazine Violet” – PV23

Watercolor paint swatch of dioxazine violet.

Dioxazine Violet is made from coal tar, and has been found in professional grade watercolors since the middle of the last century. It is a highly saturated color almost as dark as black at full strength. When diluted, it is excellent for painting shadows.

Low light fastness.

Mystic – “Cobalt Tin Alumina + Dioxazine Violet” – PB81 + PV23

Mystic watercolor swatch.

Cobalt Tin Alumina is a synthetic pigment that gives Mystic a warmer and lighter hue than it’s parent, Royal.

Low light fastness.

Butterfly – “Phthalo Blue”  – PB15:3

Swatch of phthalo blue watercolor paint.

This color is a staple in most watercolor artist’s palettes! A vibrant, intense, staining blue.

Moderate light fastness.

70s Eye Shadow – “Turquoise” – PB15:3 + PG7

Turquoise 70s eyeshadow watercolor swatch.

Though this paint is mixed from Phalo Blue and Green, it isn’t the same as what you’ll get when you mix those two together yourself. This is because 70s Eyshadow contains just a bit of white paint, making it opaque, like gouache.

You cannot layer over this color, because it will reactivate and smear if re-wet.

Moderate light fastness.

Ink – “Payne’s Gray” – PB27 + PR101 + PBk9

Payne's grey

This paint contains Prussian Blue (PB27), Red Iron Oxide (PR101) and Ivory Black (PBk9), a combination resulting in a color similar to Payne’s Grey, but slightly bluer (at least compared to Windsor & Newton’s).

It is an excellent pigment to use for darkening other colors in the set. And because you can get such a large range of values with it, Ink is perfect for doing monotone wash sketches!

Excellent light fastness.

Frida – “Naphthol Red – PR170

Watercolor swatch of

Made from a fugitive pigment (that means it will fade in the sunlight), FRIDA is nevertheless a joy to paint with! It is heavily staining, and quite dark at full strength.

Moderate light fastness.

Mixing Colors with the Brights Watercolor Palette

mixing-colors-brights-palette_2

Some of the Bright’s Palette colors along with colors mixed from them.

​I’ve had so much coming up with pretty color “recipes” while writing this post, that I must conclude by sharing just a few of my favorites:

Green and purple are combined to create a pretty nettle green.

Jimminy + Royal = Nettle

While Jimminy might be at home on several members of Class Insecta, including it’s namesake cricket, I often prefer a less saturated green for painting dreary grass and foliage. Mixing Jimminy with just a smidgen of Royal mutes it to a calmer green. “Nettle,” let’s call it.

nettle

Red and blue paint can be mixed to create a deep velvet color.

Frida + Butterfly = Velvet

This plush wine color is an almost equal mixture of Frida and Butterfly. I love how deep and rich Velvet becomes when highly concentrated.

velvet-banner-swatch

Dioxazine violet and phthalo blue make a beautiful seaweed green.

Royal + Mermaid = Seaweed

One of my favorite hues mixed from Royal and Mermaid is a teal we’ll call “Seaweed.” Experiment with mixing these two colors yourself, and you’ll come up with some lovely shades ranging from elegant forest greens to denim blues.

seaweed-banner-swatch

If you already have one (or both) of these palettes, which are your favorite colors (or color combinations)? I’d love to hear about them! And if you have any further questions about the watercolors, don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll do my best to help.


Sources for pigment information:

 

How to Sew a Travel Paintbrush Case

Today I’ll show you how to sew cute little paintbrush case that will protect your watercolor brushes from getting damaged or squished in your bag–whether you’re traveling across the country, or just walking downtown to the park for an afternoon of sketching.

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Case Dimensions and Seam Allowance

The final case dimensions are 9″ by 3.5″, with the seam allowance at 1/4″ (but of course you can always make adjustments to accommodate your brushes or preferences).

Step One: Cut Out Your Pieces

Here are the pieces you’ll need to cut:

  • A – 19.5″ x 4″ from EXTERIOR fabric
  • B – 5.5″ x 5.5″ from EXTERIOR fabric
  • C – 10.5″ x 4″ from LINING fabric
  • D – 9.5″ x 4″ from LINING fabric 
  • E – 9″ x 3.5″ from CARDBOARD, twice
  • F – 1″ x 3.5″ from CARDBOARD

travel-brush-case-tutorial-fabric-pieces.jpg

Step Two: Making the Brush Sleeves

Hem the square (piece B) along one side, by turning the right side of the fabric to the wrong side 1/4″ and pressing it with an iron. Fold it over just the same way a second time, and press again. Then you’re ready to sew it in place. If you are hand sewing, I suggest using the blind hem stitch here.

travel-brush-case-tutorial-sleeve

With right sides of the fabric facing up, place the piece you have just hemmed (piece B) on top of piece C and line up one of the raw edges perpendicular to the sewn edge (as shown in Fig. 1) and pin together (remember to line up the bottoms, too). Sew 1/4″ from the edge.

Next, pin the following side as show in Fig. 2.

sew-side-of-sleeves.JPG

Now we’re going to need our paintbrushes. I’ve found it easiest to pin sleeve pockets around the paintbrushes (Fig. 3 above, and as shown in the photo below). That way, you’ll be sure they’ll fit!

pin-sleeve-to-fit-brushes.JPG

To make it easier to sew the pockets in a straight line, get out a ruler and a sewing pen with disappearing ink, and draw them right along the row of pins. Alternatively, you could use a piece of paper tape as a guide.

Sew each of the pockets, and the right edge.

Step Three: Attach the Sleeves to Piece A

With the wrong sides facing out, sew the bottom of the sleeves to the bottom of the exterior fabric (piece A), 1/4″ from the edge.

Step Four: Sew A Button Loop

For this step, you’ll need some embroidery thread. Tie a knot at the end of your thread, and pull it from inside to outside. Make a loop about 2.5″ in length with the thread, and repeat 3 times (Fig. 4). Pull the thread to the outside to make the first knot (Fig. 5, 6, and 7). Keep tying knots around the entire loop, then pull the thread to the inside of the fabric and cut.

paintbrush-case-fig-4to7

Your finished loop should look something like this:

1-1-closeup-button-loop

Step Five: Sew Up the Seams

Fold the sleeves back towards the right side of the exterior (piece A) again. You should have both wrong-sides of the fabric facing outwards at this point. Lay piece D on top of piece A opposite to piece C (the sleeves), as shown in Fig. 8.

paintbrush-case-fig-8-seam.png

Pin the exterior edges of pieces C and D to those of piece A. You’ll notice that C and D will overlap a little in the middle. Fold them back so they’re even, and press with a hot iron. The space between them we’ll leave open until after we’ve slipped in the cardboard.

Sew 1/4″ around the remaining three edges you’ve just pinned. Trim the corners, then turn the whole thing right-side out, and push the corners square with the end of a paintbrush.

Step Six: Tape the Cardboard Pieces Together

Using masking tape, or duct tape, or whatever kind of tape you have around, tape the cardboard pieces together leaving just 1/8″ or so of space between them. I found it easiest to lay the tape sticky-side up on the table, and set the cardboard on top of it. You’ll want to cover the cardboard all the way around with tape. Press the tape together in the gaps.

paintbrush-case-fig-9.png

Step Seven: Inserting the Cardboard

Now it’s time to slip the cardboard into the case through the slit we left back in step five. It’s going to be a little bit tricky, because you’ll have to fold the two large pieces of cardboard (pieces E) flat. When folded, one side of the cardboard will stick out farther than the other due to that middle piece (piece F), so make sure that you insert the longer side (pieces E + F) into the longer side of the sleeve!

Use the invisible stitch to sew together the slit.

Step Eight: Sew on a Button

Before you mark where the button will go, be sure to fill up the case with whichever brushes you intend to carry in it, since they’ll affect the depth of the case. Then pull the loop over the top cover, and sew on your button to hold it.

Now you’re done your paintbrush case!

It should look something like this:

travel-paintbrush-case-finished.png

I’m quite happy with how mine turned out. 🙂 If you give this project a try, I’d love to see a photo! Drop a link in the comments, or just use hashtag #paperfrosttutorial on Instagram, and I’ll check it out.

Hope you’re having a lovely week!

Explore New Art Supplies Combinations With This Journaling Challenge From Ali Brown

I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to my artmaking tools. If I’ve been sketching with a particularly smooth ballpoint pen (often compliments of the last hotel I visited), I’ll keep using it exclusively until it runs out of ink.

Some art journallers tend towards the opposite extreme; they love to shop for new inks and embellishments, filling their homes with enough art supplies to fill several lifetimes worth of journals, making it hard to get around to using everything.

Ali Brown’s “Honey’s Slim Pickin’s Challenge” provides a creative way to get out of such art material ruts by bringing in an objective observer (a.k.a. “your honey”) to select your supplies for you!

I’ll let Ali explain how it works:

My husband agreed to be my “honey,” and his excitement at being included in my process made it a lot of fun! Here’s my page in my Jane Davenport butterfly book:

allie-brown-challenge.jpg

It was an enjoyable way to loosen up, let go of expectations, and try out different techniques and inking styles with colors I may not have chosen to combine on my own! I think I’ll have to try it again sometime.

If you decide to try the challenge, please feel welcome to post a link to your results in the comments. 🙂

Silhouette Ladies Using Tape Resist

Today I’m going to show you how to use a technique called “tape-resist” to create silhouettes with watercolor backgrounds! Afterwards, you can add details with ink if that strikes your fancy.

A9DC85C7-A952-4FB9-940C-6923375E4693

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Pencil
  • Watercolor Paper or Sketchbook
  • Watercolor Brush and Paint
  • Fine Felt Tip Pen (I used Micron)
  • Artist’s Tape or Painter’s Paper Tape (Please note that I am an affiliate of Blick Art Materials.)

Step One: Drawing the Silhouette

To begin, use a pencil to draw a simple profile onto your piece of tape. You might find it easier to stick the tape onto a flat surface instead of drawing directly on the roll.

I used strips of 2″ wide painter’s tape.

Step Two: Prepping to Paint

Once you’re happy with your drawing, carefully cut out the profile with scissors or an X-Acto knife, and stick the profile to your watercolor paper.

Make sure to press the tape down securely, so that no paint will seep underneath it.

tape-resist-silhouettes-tutorial-1

Step Three: Painting

Now it’s time to paint! I went for a simple vignette background, but the beauty of this technique is that you can splatter and dab watercolor to your hearts content without worrying about getting paint where you don’t want it.

tape-resist-silhouette-tutorial-2.jpg

Step Four: Adding Ink

After making sure the paint has fully dried, slowly pull up the tape. (If your tape silhouette doesn’t rip, you can reuse it. Mine was sticky enough to be used four times!)

Now you have a lovely blank lady ready to be drawn or painted! I kept mine simple by drawing the features with a black micron pen.

tape-resist-tutorial-3.jpg

I hope you have fun with this technique! If you’d like to share your results, I’d love to see them! Please feel free to link to your work in the comments, or use the hashtag #paperfrosttutorial on Instagram, where I’ll be sure to see it!