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While in town for ALA, I went with Heidi and Joseph to the DickBlick only a couple blocks away from the Marcone Center. Although my bags were crammed, I have a weak spot for art supplies, and when I saw this Angora set of watercolors, I thought the colors were bright and opaque enough that it might be an ok substitute for gouache.
I was hoping for decent opaque watercolors, and thought that this set, with it's bright colors, might be just the set I was looking for if I handled the paints properly. At less than $17 for the 24 color set, I figured that even if it wasn't perfect, it was still worth a shot, so I went ahead and bought it. If you're looking for a set of your own, you can order 12, 24, or 36 pans from Blick.
The barcode on the back of the box says these are from Canson, but I've also seen them credited to Talens. The Blick site is no help, simply mentioning they're made in Germany. Talens makes a variety of art supplies under a number of sub brands including Rembrandt, Cobra, and Van Gogh. While these are not gouache, Royal Talens does make gouache that I would like to play around with in the future. I can't find the Angora sets under the watercolor section of their website, but I did find something fairly comparable. I'm also reminded of this set by Loew Cornell on Amazon.
The Paints and Package
The paints are cakes set in plastic wells in this set. The clear lid can be used as a palette, but there are only three large mixing areas. The set does not come with a brush of any sort.
The individual cakes have color variation when inspected up close, and look like they may provide muddy color rather than clear pigments.
The Field Test
I swiped the paper with a black color pencil beforehand, to test the opacity of the paints. Many cheaper brands will add white (chalk, perhaps) to make their lighter pigments seem brighter, and I was hoping that ALL of these paints had enough chalk to make them opaque.
The colors were swatched directly from the set using a clean wet brush, and as you can see, the colors aren't as intense when applied to paper as they were in cake form. You can also see these are not really opaque pigments, which puts them in a difficult category- they are not opaque enough to be considered pan gouache, nor are they clear enough to be watercolors.
With chalky watercolors like these, it's best if you keep your linework simple, because too many layers can make the piece get muddy fast. I will be applying colors pretty much straight from the palette. If you want darker, more intense color, add a drop of water to each cake, allow it to absorb, and then start painting.
The peach that comes pre-mixed is very light, but layers ok.
I applied the shadows on the shirt while the paint had not fully absorbed the water yet, so the pigment I picked up was very light.
Once the cake had a chance to absorb some water, I started painting in the skirt. You can see how big a difference allowing the water to absorb can make.
As you can see, the layer of Sepia I applied over the initial layer of brown is rather muddy- not nearly as dark as I would like.
These watercolors were not opaque enough to achieve what I really wanted, but not transparent enough to be decent watercolors. While they weren't particularly difficult to work with, if you're working with simple designs, if you want to paint more complicated pieces, this type of watercolor will get muddy very fast. If you're looking for a similar set, Sakura Koi watercolors perform about as well as the Angora watercolors, and include a decent waterbrush. These are the watercolors I use for the mini watercolors I sell at conventions.
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