I experimented with the Talens Angora watercolors today, as well as with a new set of someone else’s Reeves tube watercolors, and what I found of leftover Winsor and Newton (I think) Cotman watercolors. I could be wrong though, and at least some of the latter watercolors could have been straight W&N (not the student-grade Cotmans).
EDIT: All of the W&N colors I was using besides Winsor Blue and Winsor Yellow were Cotmans.
Let me say right here that the difference is drastic. Working from a wetted dry pan (not a wetted semi-moist pan), as I did with the Angora watercolors…it really makes the hue of the color one can pick up very light. A deep shade is just not what I’m going to get out of them, at least with a single application, because I don’t feel like digging the pigment up with the tip of my brush. Basically, the tablets don’t want to release the pigment into the water — which I suppose is an argument for semi-moist pans (but most of all for tubes).
The Reeves were better in terms of pigment density and ease of use, but I wouldn’t use them for deep shades if I could help it, because their pigment density is less than the W&N. More comes in a tube, but the value is effectively reduced because most of that extra space seems to be taken up by things that aren’t pigment.
On the other hand, I did try the Reeves Lemon Yellow, which produced a very bright, clean blue-leaning yellow, which faded very brilliantly and seemingly seamlessly to white as the paint ran out on my brush. I can definitely see the value in getting a pigment which is very light in value in a less-expensive formulation — if you want that gradual fade-to-white and don’t mind a lower concentration of pigment.
With the W&N, I was basically dealing with a very old (as in probably at least a decade old) Winsor Yellow which looked dirty in the tube and basically was quite dark and “muddy” in comparison, when it was applied. I don’t know if this is because I needed to dilute it a lot more with cleaner water, or if it’s because it’s old and had started to decompose, or if it’s because Winsor Yellow is aiming for a “typical” yellow…but the effect wasn’t all that appealing.
But then with Winsor Red, Blue, and Yellow, I find that the hues seem to be aiming for a “typical”, recognizable red, blue, or yellow which is neutral in its leaning toward color overtones. The colors which come out of this process are not very appealing to me…and I’m not sure of their practical use in color mixing.
It seems that because (at least, as best I can recall — I couldn’t get the screw-cap off of the Winsor Red) the Winsor primaries are overtone-neutral, this means that they would make a duller shade no matter what they were mixed with. For example, the Winsor Blue is a little green, a little violet; combined, the two overtones make the color duller (that is, there is the addition of a chromatic grey), and you have that extra overtone in whatever you’re mixing the blue with. If you want to make green with it, you’ve still got that little bit of violet; and if you want violet out of it, you’ve still got a little bit of green. So some bit of chromatic grey is unavoidable.
But then, I’m not a professional, so if you’re going to accept this at all, take it with a bit of salt.
I think I’m going to try out the Reeves again when I can — I believe I only used Phthalocyanine Blue (I hope I spelled that correctly) and Lemon Yellow — as when I tried the Phthalo Blue, the color was much less dense than the W&N Ultramarine (anything, you say, would look pale next to Ultramarine). I didn’t try out the Reeves Ultramarine; at the point that I saw the drastic difference in color density, I backed off and started trying to mix colors with the W&N more.
After I got a bit of the tube paint onto my palette, things seemed to go pretty smoothly, so far as remembering how to use the stuff went. I just wish I knew how to use less of it and still be effective with it.
So far as brushes went — there are a number of round brushes I have access to, a couple of which I used. But probably my favorite from this last practice round would have been a 1/2″ flat synthetic brush — I think a very old Jack Richeson — because it allowed me to make a calligraphic line (which the round brushes did not, though I did not try my hardest to vary line width with them, and my hand and arm are still used to drawing [firm pressure], not painting [hovering hand]). Second favorite would have been my liner, which I picked up a long time ago just because its price was drastically cut and I had visions of using it for inking comics.
I don’t think I’m going to be going the comic route, though. Not at the moment. I’m feeling much more fulfilled playing around with colors, and I’ve heard it can be a tricky thing to reproduce colors which one can see in paints or otherwise in the “real world”, in print or on the computer screen. From my (few) days in Graphic Design, I seem to recall this as well. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t illustrate and paint and draw for personal fulfillment.
And besides — by now I know that doing the visual arts does something in my mind — it helps me connect ideas that I wouldn’t have connected (at least, as quickly) on my own, and it stimulates the drive to write. There is nothing which says I cannot have a story in my mind and illustrate it (using the term “illustrate” very loosely), and gain personal development from it. And I suppose I should state to myself that this is not a waste of time, even if I don’t do a graphic novel. And — it would be a lot of work to both write and illustrate a graphic novel.
There’s got to be some way that the narratives, and the personal development, and the art, are connected. I just haven’t figured it out, yet. I suppose that’s where faith helps; when you know there’s something more going on, but your mind isn’t powerful enough to work out just what, yet.