24 Jan Camel Artists’ Watercolour Tubes – Review
Camel Artists’ Watercolour Tubes- a short review!
I bought a select set of tubes from their catalogue. There is a good mix of cool and warm versions of the three primaries as well as some extras. If you have read my previous posts about beginner colour palette selection, I have tried to select the same types of hues in Camel AWC to make up a similar palette of colours.
That means, a split primary triad set, earth tones, greens and a dark.
Now though, I have finally tried out the various colour combinations, mixing different similar looking shades and make a few small paintings.
In this post, I will walk you through some colour combinations and mixes, my experience with the colours and some thoughts.
The colours: In my previous post on these swatches, you can see the tubes I chose from their set of 48 colours, which was tentatively what I wanted in my beginner palette. Some extra yellows, blues and reds have been selected to find the appropriate cool and warm hue of each.
Warm and Cool Primaries:
I have my cool and Warm yellows as Lemon Yellow and Permanent Yellow Deep. Gamboge is remarkably similar in usage as P.Y.D. I chose the latter as I felt it to be a tad brighter.
For the Reds- we have Vermillion which works well as a warm red. For the cool Red I found Crimson Lake to be the best mixer. Carmine is similar but slightly lower in tinting strength. Rose madder is a touch on the deeper side and less cool.
For Blues- I wanted to choose Ultramarine Blue, it is such an important part of my regular palette. But the Camel one was extremely gummy and unpleasant to use. I had to scrape so much paint and it wouldn’t lay down well or flow properly. It was an extremely weak pigment. But Permanent Blue is similar in hue as well as granulating. I estimate it is made of a similar pigment and chose that for my warm blue instead.
I hope this might have been a defect in just my tube of paint and not across all Ultramarines.
For cool blue, I chose Camlin Blue. The Camlin blue is a strong and staining cool blue which must be a phthalo pigment.
Additionally, I can’t do without my earth tones – Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre. The Burnt Sienna too, unfortunately, was like the Ultramarine- Gummy, sticky, and low on pigment load. But I had no alternatives, so I chose to keep it. If all Burnt Sienna from Camel are similar, I would opt for Burnt Umber/ Raw Umber or Sepia. Note- these are selections made off the shade cards alone and not the real paint.
I added a Sap Green convenience colour and a Payne’s Grey for darks. Sap green was a touch too bright to be useful, I had to keep toning it down. Perhaps Olive Green or Hooker’s Green light would have worked better! Payne’s Grey was delightful to use and absolutely needed for darks.
The Painting Experience
Overall the colours performed better than I expected. (Guess my expectations were too low?!)
Using the colours out of the tube was quite enjoyable, they flow well and handle smoothly.
However, my preferred method is to pour them into pans and place those pans into a metal watercolour palette/box.
In Pans, most of the colours are hard to rewet and use. They have poor colour payoff and I had to scrape a lot to get the colour out of the pan. Exceptions to this were Crimson Lake, Payne’s Grey, and Camlin Blue- these hues were beautiful even in pans when dry. The experience of using Camel paints in pans was not as great as any of my usual paints, and I found myself resisting them and reaching for another palette of paints every time I wanted to paint something. Even when the Camel ones were right on the table ready to go.
Worst performers – Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna.
These hues were gummy and sticky. It seemed like they had too much binder and not enough pigment. They were hard to use both from pans and when freshly squeezed.
Best Performers – All the reds, Camlin Blue, Payne’s Grey
These were heavily pigmented, easily to load on a wet brush from pans or tubes, and fun to paint with.
The Payne’s grey was so pigmented I enjoyed doing some monochromatic studies with it.
Mixes with selected colours:
Here are some mixes of some of the selected shades of the Camel Artists’ watercolours.
Overall, I would say I was impressed with the Camel Artists’ Watercolour tubes. I would completely recommend them to anybody starting out in watercolours in India. They are an affordable and decently performing option to dive into watercolours with. Once an artist has some more familiarity with the medium, they can choose to upgrade to better quality paints. But as a beginner, It is much better to start out with 10-12 colours from the Camel AWC range than 3 colours in an imported artist quality paint. Choice of colours being very personal in the end, this helps the artist figure out their generally preferred colours on a comfortable budget.
But having painted with brands like Sennelier, Daniel Smith, Winsor & Newton over the last few years, I must say I sometimes disliked painting with the Camel set. I ended up only using it in the studio when I could squeeze out fresh paint. The dried paints in pans had a poor colour payoff and had to be scraped to use for many pigments. That tends to be my preferred method and thus disappointing to me. I also felt that the paints drying shift was always a bit more than I expected. They tend to dry much lighter than they appear when wet. I found it difficult to mix darks and had to resort to mixing in Payne’s grey for darker tones.
Here are some of the small paintings I made with these paints.
An issue with calling these ‘artist grade’ paints is that they lack proper pigment and lightfastness information. While I could only guess as to some of the pigments, I could do my own quick and dirty lightfastness test.
I painted swatches of these on artist grade cotton watercolour paper. I split the paper down the middle, keeping one half safely inside a closed drawer. The other half I mounted onto a window (behind the glass). I get an Eastern sun hitting this window continuously for most of the day. According to handprint.com, this unshaded window for four months would have been sufficient but I have let it go on for 6 months. Soon, it will be time to see what the sun reveals!