Above: A color chart of the selection in my Schmincke travel palette. This chart is on a page in an 11 x 7.5 inch journal I made with Arches 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper.
Today on the Official International Fake Journal Month Blog I posted another spread from this year's journal and wrote about how I am experimenting with these Schmincke colors. I thought people reading this blog might be interested in that post and other folks might like to see swatches of the colors mentioned.
I first started using Schmincke pan watercolors in the early 1990s when I read an article about an artist who used them for his editorial illustrations. The convenience of them appealed to me. I liked that I could take them out into the field with me, easily as well. But I was also still experimenting with other paints and I finally settled on Daniel Smith Watercolors as my primary watercolor brand. (The large range of quinacridone colors swayed me, or I should say, seduced me. I loved the rich pigmentation and the fact that they easily rewet into vibrant washes.)
But I kept the Schmincke box around for various occasions and over the years have fiddled with which colors to include in it. At the end of 2007 I decided to experiment with it a little more and got out the box and switched out some of the colors to conform more closely to the pigments I was readily using in the Daniel Smith line.
It was the end of the year and I needed to start a new journal, with a goal of filling the whole volume in less than a month so that I could start a new one on January 1, 2008 (it's not critical that I do this but I do like the orderliness of it). I found a sample journal I'd made as a class sample in 2000. The journal had Arches 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper for pages. I had never used the journal because I don't like the way Arches watercolor paper cracks when folded even with the grain, and I don't really like landscape orientation in my journals—I find these very wide books (and this one is 22 inches wide) difficult to hold when I'm standing and sketching.
I ended up using different paper and a different size for the class, and this book got shelved. But it was perfect for watercolor swatch tests. Over the next several days in December 2007, when I had time, I would make a variety of color mixing tests in this book. The cold press paper allowed the granulating qualities of the paint to exhibit. It was a happy choice.
One of the colors I added in December 2007 was Translucent Orange. This is a wonderfully vibrant paint and if you use orange in your palette I really suggest you give this a try. It has none of the heaviness of cadmium orange. It creates delcious neutrals when mixed with its complement. Wonderfully rich and quirky "near neutrals" when mixed with split complements. It's just a great color to have on your palette.
If you are looking for a pan watercolor line I recommend Schmincke's. A slight touch with your wet brush generates a lavishly rich line of color. If you spritz your pans lightly with water when you start sketching you'll have very moist colors for painting when the time comes. The pans also last a long time.
The one problem I have with these paints is that in some heavier passages of color, with some of the paints there is a bit of shine. It's the gum Arabic. I find this happens with most watercolors off and on, but I notice it more with these pans. When I returned to experimenting with them in December 2007 it bothered me a lot at first, then it bothered me less and less. After almost a month of daily use in my fake journal (only 3 more page spreads to go), I have to say it doesn't bother me at all.
I recommend that you start with a basic set of a warm and cool of each of the primaries and play around with the colors to see what you love or don't love about these paints. (Or maybe just get 3 primaries for experimentation.) There are tremendous thrills to be found with the Translucent Orange, the Translucent Yellow, and several of the Helio blues (I'm a particular fan of Helio Blue Reddish). Titanium Gold Ochre is a fabulous color, very opaque (I actually use their gouache version of this pigment on my gouache palette), and a satisfying and useful color, particularly when you want to blend in highlights in a brown eye!
Now that IFJM is winding to an end will I stay with the Schmincke pan watercolors? Nope, I'll go back and forth between them and my Daniel Smith selection. But I have really enjoyed the break and the intensive use of just these paints. I'm also anxious to get back to, of course, gouache.