Irodori Antique Watercolor from Holbein

November 29, 2009

Swatches from a triad of Irodori Antique watercolors from Holbein.
IrodoriSwatches2006 Left: Swatches made in 2006 in an Aquabee spiral sketchbook. (That's a pink Post-it Note at the bottom right that I forgot to remove before scanning.)

I was talking about using limited color palettes in watercolor a week or so ago (actually I'm always talking and writing about this) and someone asked for recommendations if only three tubes of gouache paint were to be purchased. I can't find that note and the person's name, or where I addressed it in the comments, but what I can say is that when I shut down the computer that night I got out an old sketchbook to check on something and I found this yummy chart of a test of three Irodori Antique Watercolor paints from Holbein.

Whoa—I'm not suggesting you run out and buy these paints. I'm posting this chart as an example of one of the many experiments you need to do when you are testing out new paints and trying to ascertain where they will fit in your palette (if at all). 

Before you buy this or any brand please make sure that the pigments used in the paint meet whatever standards you have for lightfast properties and other component characteristics.

If you paint transparent watercolors you'll find that the three colors selected here will all be too heavy for most of your applications. Also these paints don't rewet well at all (there are warnings about only putting out what you need for a session in every sales brochure on them) so they aren't a useful candidate for making your own pans of color. But if you like to play with different textures in your watercolors or work in the studio or field from tubed paint you might want to look at the Irodori Antique Watercolor line from Holbein. (The colors in the line are colors used in "ancient" Japanese and Chinese art, hence the use of the word "antique" in their name.)

Regardless of what brand of paints you're using you need to take some time to explore the blending possibilities and see what you really can do with simply 3 paints—in this case a red, blue, and yellow. I would be quite happy working with this lot in the studio as I can get my Malamute Gray.

  1. Reply

    Picking paints for is the most challenging but most fun of painting with watercolor. Right now I’m picking paints for a 12 color set that I made in a mint box. I really like the idea of doing tests.

    • Roz
    • November 29, 2009

    Jon, picking paints is fun isn’t it! I love that you made a 12 color set in a mint box. Do you have a link to a photo so folks can see it? And curious minds wonder what pigments made your cut! Happy painting.

    • Ricë
    • November 29, 2009

    i love seeing the journal pages where i can see you playing with paints, testing colors, picking out what you like. these always make me very happy. ♥

    • Roz
    • November 29, 2009

    Ricë, I think these pages make me the happiest too (except perhaps when I am drawing a bird or a dog). Right now would be a good time to make some color swatches for a painting I’m working on!!!

  2. Reply

    I wanted to make one of those little altoid kits like so many have. I only had the altoid gum tin which is even smaller than the mint tin. I glued in 3 beer screw-on caps for colors as that was what I had to use and all that would fit. Then I had to choose what 3 lucky colors would fit. I didn’t keep my test paper but I played with all the reds, blues and yellows to see which would give me the best greens, oranges and purples. Of course the ones I picked didn’t give me the best of all three; it doesn’t work that way but I was able to make a decent choice since I did test them out. I wish I could have every color but the more colors I get the less I seem to use them as I end up mixing what I use mostly anyhow. I don’t know why as I don’t know that much about painting. I just know I want a color like that tree trunk, or that flower petal and the colors in the tubes don’t always give you that.

    • Roz
    • December 2, 2009

    Timaree, I love that you used beer screw caps!!! This is a new one for pans.

    It sounds like you are pretty happy with your three colors!

    One thing I like to do to make things interesting and bust things up every so often, is pick a different triad, or pick a different set of complements or near complements than I usually use, and then go off and use them for the day.

    It forces my brain to work with what I’ve got and I tend to learn something about the colors I don’t use as often. (I think I’m also exercising my brain which can’t be bad right?)

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