There are so many brands and qualities of watercolor pigment it is staggering! While it is most important to invest in lightfast, name-brand professional paint, you will still find many different characteristics among pigments that go by the same or similar common names. Manufacturers use different binders, raw pigments from varying sources, and create mixtures with unique company recipes. One of the things I seem most particular about, is how the paint “feels” regarding workability and preparing washes, etc. For example, too much binder often results in an oily quality and weak adhering strength to the paper. Different brands may also vary in the strength (intensity) of the hue in its pure form.
All of this said, if you follow the work of different artists you will soon come to find that most have a preference, or often a “majority” preference for one manufacturer. I have been working as an American Journey (Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff) Ambassador for quite a few years now, so in a sense I grew up as an artist trying many different professional brands carried by Cheap Joe’s. I watched the company grow and over the years develop their own brand of American Journey Watercolor. I occasionally got handed a new color and was asked to provide a response to Joe after test driving it. I know the quality of pigments and thought that goes into the A.J. pigment products, and feel great about recommending them strongly and using them primarily. You will notice a few other brands on my palette for certain colors. These are pigments by other top manufacturers that I particularly like for the handling qualities or the “special effect” that I find they may offer in certain situations. For example the honey binder used in Cinerous Blue (Sennelier) produces a unique Sky effect in a very wet wash. You would have to try it to see what I mean.
Please use the guide below as a reference, and download a PDF or JPEG for printing out at the links provided. Also, feel free to email me with questions at Beartrailstudio@gmail.com