Target Art Supply Review: Up and Up Watercolors

I've already reviewed Target Up and Up's washable Supertip markers, with interesting results, so it's time to compare and review another Crayola contender- Up and Up's washable watercolors.  These were the only watercolors the Kenner Target offered.  I've checked a couple other Targets since purchasing these, and still haven't found anything other than what Up and Up or Crayola offer, and certainly not anything aimed at a hobbyist or professional artist.

  • 8 Colors total
  • washable
  • dares us to compare with Crayola

The Paints

Up and Up washable watercolors come in a plastic case/palette very similar to the one Crayola's washable watercolors came in.  It includes a brush, but unlike the Crayola case, there are no individual palette wells on the clear plastic top of the case.  The package comes with a paper insert with the product details that's probably intended to be disposable.

The back of the Up and Up washable watercolors case has a sticker that covers washing instructions, a disclaimer that these watercolors were not manufactured by Crayola, the Target promise, a mailing address, and a barcode.

The washing instructions are:

Wash with warm water and mild soap.  Prompt laundering removes stains from cotton, acrylic, nylon, polyester, and blends of these fabrics.  Do not use prewash or bleach.  Repeat if necessary.

The colors included in this set are Black, Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, and Brown.

Top:  Crayola Washable Watercolors
Bottom:  Up and Up washable watercolors
 This set is basically just the reverse off the Crayola set, in terms of color order.

Top Brush:  Target Up and Up
Bottom Brush:  Crayola Washable Watercolor 
 The Up and Up watercolor set includes a synthetic brush that has a crimped metal ferrule and a plastic handle.  The brush is really poorly balanced, and is brush end heavy.

Top:  Crayola Watercolors
Bottom:  Up and Up Watercolors
As with the Crayola washable watercolor set, the plastic tray that holds the poured watercolor cakes is removable from the case.

Since Up and Up dares us to compare with Crayola, I've pulled out my 8 color Crayola Washable Watercolor (link) set from the Walmart Art Supply review series.  Already I can see that the pans in the Up and Up set are much smaller than those in the Crayola set, and the colors are in a different order.   The brush comes with a protective cap, and synthetic bristles.  The bristles are held in place with glue or gel, so it'll have to be washed out before using.  The brush looks like it's a size 1, too tiny for little hands.  Honestly, you want to work with as large a brush as possible for what you're doing, and only move down to a smalelr size when you need to put in details.  Working with small brushes from the start not only takes forever to get anything done, but also leads to muddier paintings. The plastic case doesn't have dividers on the lid like the Crayola case has, making it more difficult for young artists to use it as a palette.

The Swatch Test


I did this swatch test using the tiny brush included in the Up and Up set.

You really shouldn't encourage someone to compare your brand to the national standard if your brand is sorta crappy, at least when it comes to these watercolors.  Before slapping on that challenge, did they actually HAVE anyone compare Up and Up washable watercolors to Crayola washable watercolors.  Surely I can't be the first, so let's Google it! (link to google search)

Anyway, when swatching straight from a dry palette, I find the colors to be poorly pigmented and very soapy.  I'm hoping that allowing the water to soak in a bit will result in better pigmentation, as it did with the Crayola washable watercolors.


Pigmentation is a little better, but paint is goopy and soapy.  I am not excited about the field test.

Colors blend very muddy.


What Up and Up and Crayola have in common:

  • Poor pigmentation
  • Soapy as all get out

Where Crayola Excels:

  • Slightly nicer, bigger brush
  • More color
  • Slightly better pigmentation
  • Better color blending

Side by Side Swatch Test (since Up and Up dares us to compare)

Left: Up and Up washable watercolors
Right: Crayola Washable Watercolors

Left: Up and Up washable watercolors
Right: Crayola Washable Watercolors

Colors were applied with brush that came in set.

Although they LOOK about the same in terms of saturation, please keep in mind that I used the Up and Up synethtic fiber brush for the Up and Up watercolors, and you can really gob on the paint with this brush.  The Up and Up green is pretty underwhelming, and the yellow already looks like it was contaminated with green paint (it wasn't).  The brown is very light for a brown, and the only way you can really mix it to get a darker color is to mix black in it.  Both brands are soapy, but you do get more paint with Crayola, and that is actually important, as it takes so much paint to mix colors using water.

The Field Test

Confession: I dun goofed- I grabbed the wrong palette.  Rather than starting all over though, I'm just going to keep working with what I've got.  My apologies.

I am going to use the Target Up and Up watercolors to mix and swatch a skintone on another piece of watercolor paper, since that's an important element of these tests.

It takes SO MUCH paint to mix up any sort of saturation.I keep glopping in more paint from the cakes (its so soapy!), and it hardly changes the color that ends up on the paper at all.  The brown is pretty lackluster too.

Like Crayolas, these paints take forever to dry, so if you're doing your own tests at home, prepare to wait around.

I tried to use the Up and Up skintone mix to darken Kara's skin, and like so many cheap watercolors, instead of layering properly, it made everything look chalky.  I'm going to switch back to Crayola for skintone stuff for this review to prevent that from happening again.

Mixing Skintones from Crayola Washable Watercolors and Up and Up Washable Watercolors

Originally I'd accidentally mixed Kara's skintone with the Crayola washable watercolors, mixing a bit of yellow, brown, and red together (top swatch and Kara's skin).  Since I'd goofed, I wanted to see if I could mix skintones with Target Up and Up washable watercolors as well.  The colors are far less saturated, and it takes a lot more paint to mix colors correctly.  You can mix skintones with the Up and Up washable watercolors, but it's harder to do.

I'd allowed my paints to evaporate a bit overnight, hoping that with less water, the colors would be more saturated.  They are a bit more saturated, but really, what kid (or adult) is going to be patient enough to wait for water to evaporate?

This field test ended up taking much longer than it would have for better brands of watercolor, as the glycerin in the watercolors made the water take a long time to evaporate.  I can only imagine this resulting in frustrating, muddy messes for budding artists.

It's harder to achieve layer delineations with the Up and Up washable watercolors, so if you're trying to build up color, these are not the watercolors for you.

The Verdict

Left:  Target Up and Up Washable Watercolors
Right:  Crayola Washable Watercolors

I feel like I shouldn't have to tell adults that purchasing a set of Up and Up washable watercolors will probably only lead to disappointment if you intend to use them to attempt to paint seriously.  I've heard people say that cheap art supplies are like training wheels, but that's only true if your training wheels are attached to a bike you can actually ride.  Kid's grade art supplies are more like those bike/scooter hybrids you scoot with your feet- you THINK you're learning how to ride a bike, but you're still just sitting and scooting.   I'm not sure what you're hoping to learn with these, but you're possibly better off just saving your money for a little longer and getting a set of watercolors that actually perform like watercolors.

If you're an adult purchasing these watercolors for a small child, I recommend you skip these and either get the Up and Up Paintmarkers, which have better pigmentation, or get regular Crayola watercolors.  Neither of those products will perform like the real deal, but if you're a kid who's covering reams of paper with color, performance isn't your priority.

If you're a teenager who's eyeing these because these are all you can afford, or because your younger sibling has a set they aren't using, I recommend you try washable markers instead, and check out my Crayola review, where I show you how to use them like watercolor markers.  Not all brands work for this technique, but so far I know Crayola and Up and Up will.