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Testing Yarka Watercolors

January 18, 2019
Pentel brush pen sketch with Yarka watercolors on a page in my large Nostalgie journal.

Last fall I was in Wet Paint and they had some sets of Yarka Watercolors for sale. I purchased two sets. One was a standard set of colors that I bought for a young friend as a gift. The other set, “High Chroma” (HC) was for me to experiment with. 

They were in fun square boxes. I think there were 8 paints in a box. Since I gave one set to my young friend, and I passed my tester set along to a landscape painter so she could test the paints I don’t recall the exact number of paints in the sets. (Also I couldn’t find them on the Wet Paint site so they might not be available any longer—you could call and ask.)

I did a number of portraits with the HC set too. They were the colors I typically use so I had to settle into new ways of using color on my portraits. I also had to adjust to using the Yarka paints. 

I thought I would like the Yarka paints because they are pretty soft in their pans, and with a little bit of water you can pull off a lot of paint. But I found overall that the paint was less brilliant than the other brands I use regularly. So even though I could use it thickly if desired (something I routinely do with my other brands) Yarka didn’t quite have the “mph” of the other brands I use.

Time passed and I kept forgetting to review the paints. Now I think what I’ve written is what sticks with me. 

They were an impulse purchase because of the packaging. The fact that I gave my set away after only a few paintings is indicative of how un-bonded I became with them.

I simply have more fun with the other brands I use.

I would rather use my Lukas pan watercolors with all their “faulty” pigments than fuss with the Yarka watercolors. Actually, I gave the Lukas set away last year as you’ll read in that linked post. One can really only have so many types of paint. 

Cropped view of the paint. You can see that I’m using it very heavily on the bottom of the squash and more transparently on the top portion of the squash.

The young friend I gave the Yarka set to? Well the set I gave her was primary colors so she’ll be fine. She can mess about with the paint and use it up with abandon, discover color theory, and by the time she works through the box it will be time for her to upgrade to Schminke or Daniel Smith.

If you already have Schmincke pans or Daniel Smith tubes, both of which I use, then I think you’re working with great paints and should stop looking and just paint—which is what I intend to do right after I save this post.

(Oh, for the past two years I have been working with Winsor & Newton tube watercolors, you’ll have read about that in other posts. It’s a long story. I don’t like them as well as I like the Schmincke pans or Daniel Smith tubes, but the W&N have some nice qualities. I’m going to stop now before I really dig myself into a hole.)

As to lightfastness and artist quality for the Yarka paints, I find conflicting info on the websites that sell them and think my confusion comes from the way the paint is brought into the US and sold under various Yarka names. Also the sets that I purchased were specially put together for Wet Paint and the independent art store group they belong to. 

I didn’t really enjoy the paints enough to sort through all that. I think your time would be better spent using one of the other brands I mentioned.

Later in 2019 I’ll be posting a series I have been working on. The first four or more in that series use Yarka watercolors, but I didn’t want to publish them at this time out of context or before I finished the series.

  1. Reply

    Most of my art has been done with graphite pencils, acrylic paint and oil paints. It’s time for me to get some quality watercolor paper and pigments and give it a go. Your renderings are so inspiring and your “how to” guidance is clear and concise.

    1. Reply

      So glad the blog has been helpful. If you’re looking to upgrade your watercolors I suggest you go with Daniel Smith tube paint or Schmincke factory pans.I use both and they are both great. Happy painting!

    • James Hays
    • August 14, 2020
    Reply

    I’m considering getting the class pack of the primary colors for kids, how would you say they stack up against prang or crayola? They are about 3x as much and I want my kids to have as good of quality as I can reasonably get and wanted to know if you think these would be worth the 3x dollars. Thanks!

    1. Reply

      James, I love this question. The pigments/quality of this set is way above prang or crayola.

      I mentioned that I didn’t have as much fun with it as my usual brands, but as far as cost and quality for a kid learning it would be a good place to start. And not as frustrating as either the prang or crayola.
      (With the less expensive sets they aren’t going to get good saturation and color intensity, and blending will be more muddy, so giving the child a more expensive set is going to allow them to have better results right away, and keep up their enthusiasm.)

      There’s one thing, the High Chroma set I passed to a young friend—well her mom didn’t like that it contained cadmium colors.

      I don’t really think of that as an issue because unless you put the brush in your mouth or are painting with an open wound it’s not going to be an issue. But a parent is a parent and the final say in the matter. (I replaced the colors with non-cadmium alternatives.)

      So before you buy one of these sets to give to a young artist just be sure, if he/she isn’t your child that the parent is OK with the colors.

      I was trying to think of alternatives for you. I see Blick sells the sets for $47. The only thing I could think of off the top of my head is the QoR set of half pans. I see Wet Paint has it on sail for $70, so that’s 20 dollars more, but those are excellent paints. (I’m not that thrilled with the box, but I wasn’t thrilled with the Yarka set’s box either.)

      They also have a Daniel Smith Pan set of 12 colors, that look from the photo like the standard colors one has in those boxes, and it’s only $56.37 which is just a little more than what you were going to pay for the Yarka—though make sure that this selection doesn’t have anything that would bother a parent in it either. I just looked over the list in the writ up and their aren’t any cadmiums. Some of the Ceruleans bother some people because they come with Danger labels, but that’s not one I think. That’s a nice range of colors. There are lots of things the young artist can do, including color theory exercises, with that set.

      Hope my response is helpful. I’m so glad you’re encouraging a young artist.

      I am adding links to what I was looking at Wet Paint https://wetpaintart.com/qor-watercolor-1-2-pan-12-color-set/

      And the Daniel Smith
      https://wetpaintart.com/daniel-smith-1-2-pan-watercolor-12-color-tin/

      I’m not connected to WP, I just know what they have more than other stores.

    2. Reply

      James, just to let you know I added some links to my response so you could check out the sets I mentioned.

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