I think there is a law somewhere that says if you are an artist or even one that tries to be one, you have to buy and try all the art supplies available at any time.

I know, is a stupid law, but it works just like biology – things happen without any control.

At least, that’s how I argue buying yet another set of watercolour paints. In my defence, this set of Kuretake pan paints is one that made me drool for more than a year now – so, considering the amount of self-restraint alone, I should be forgiven.

I always heard the Chinese and Japanese watercolours are exquisite – and them, being such incredible watercolourists, had all the premises to succed in this area.

Without further digressing, in a sunny weekend morning I set myself for a day of (mostly) drooling in a big art supplies shop. For a measly £14 (and some change) I bought this wonderful box with 12 pans.

As you can see, the Japanese are nothing but careful when it comes to packaging –the box has a lovely finish in an otherwise simple cardboard box. The surprise comes when opening it – the pans are HUGE! (although quite shallow) which allows using a seriously large brush.

As I said, there are 12 colours – all very glossy and with a moist texture that reminds me happily of my beloved “White Nights” watercolours. Just to have an idea, the Winsor Newton pans although glossy, they look hard, like bonbons and one has to rub the brush on them quite a lot to take a significant amount of paint. The Kuretake – and the “White Nights” – look more like a glossy caramel.

Filled with anticipation, I set up to do a colour chart and this is the result.

The colours look a lot different from what I’ve expected and much, much less pigmented than I would’ve liked. But I promised myself not to be jumping to any conclusions until I do a trial painting.

I started painting a generic hill landscape, painting in the exact same manner I do with my paints – which involves a lot of water, and mixing the colours directly on the paper.

All I can say is that I was NOT a happy bunny.

In order to achieve the most saturated tones, I had to paint with a brush that was basically dry and add many consecutive layers – in a painting that is mostly a sketch. So I might take a chance and say these paints don’t love the water as much as I do.

The colours are also not very happy – the burnt sienna (my favourite) is very diluted (even when almost no water is used) and the so called indigo is basically a blue with a cooler side.

The good things I discovered? Is incredibly easy to lift it off the paper, no matter how dry it is, and none of the paints stain. They have indeed that lovely texture of moist, gooey paint and the size of the pans make you believe you can actually use them for a big size painting. I wouldn’t risk it though – being moist and with so little pigment, in a shallow pan, means they run out very quickly.

Bottom line – I would probably not invest in a bigger set (although a set of 36 colours is only £25 on Amazon), but they might suit an illustrator or someone that would work with inks too, where the depth of tone can be achieved with ink not paint.

Hope this helped some other drooling mate and help him or her to make a decision about buying (or not) the Kuretake watercolours.

Until your next set of watercolours, take care and happy painting! 🙂