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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.

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  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!

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