So, how important is watercolor paint brand? Keep in mind, this is one artist’s opinion.
A lot of watercolor artists are brand sticklers. They’re convinced that brand X smokes brand Y. You’ll get the same thing with guitarists, car enthusiasts, and every other person who’s convinced their favorite brand is better than the competition.
You know what?
I don’t care. Seriously. I don’t.
I like Daniel Smith paints. A lot. I’ve even tried their luminescent paints. And I liked two of those and hated one of those, and was indifferent about one of those.
One day in Hobby Lobby, I really needed a few paints. They didn’t have Daniel Smith. They only carried Winsor and Newton and their cheap brand at the time. So, I tried Winsor and Newton because I didn’t want to waste time with student grade paints.
And you know what? I loved Winsor and Newton!
Then one day, I was in Blick and they had a ridiculous sale on their store brand. From deduction, I knew Blick watercolor blocks were really something a lot more expensive that they bought in bulk. However, I won’t say the name. I know how they’re able to do it though. You buy something in bulk and make a deal with the company and they’ll let you slap your store log on it.
Costco does this. That’s why Costco brand Scotch is pretty decent Scotch. It’s really something higher end that they bought in bulk.
Anyways, Blick brand paints are also pretty good paints.
“So do you have a preference?”
Honestly? Not really. Yes, don’t buy student paints if you can afford to buy the high end paints. Student paints use cheaper materials and are watered down. You’ll find you’ll have less pigments with student paints. You’ll learn this the hard way.
Yes, you can still create excellent art (assuming you’re pretty good) with student paints. But, why do extra work?
I’m fine with any of those three that I’ve used so far. Sure, I’ll try others as well. As long as they’re the professional grade paints. I’d love to try M Graham watercolors for instance as I already happen to love M Graham gouache.
Now, if you really want to be a stickler, do the same painting twice, except do it with two different brands. Then actually get back to me and let me know which paint brand you like better.
I’ll be honest with you. I’m a horrible judge. You know why? Because I’m pretty adamant that good tools are good tools.
I could take a high end guitar from Paul Reed Smith, Ibanez, Schecter, Jackson, or a slew of other guitar companies and I’ll be more than happy to perform live with it. Exactly the same thing with watercolor paints.
Now, if this isn’t you, then you need to experiment.
But let me be clear on one thing – there are no right or wrong answers in any of this. Just preferences.
If you’re happy with a tool, feel free to fall in love with it and hate its competitors. That’s just not me.
Update – February 2021
If you’re a creative type, you’ll notice you’ll change your opinions from time to time. Since this is an article based mostly on opinion, well, it’s now outdated.
I now have an official favorite watercolor paint. It’s Sennelier and they’re made in France.
I bought them by complete chance. I was running low on both Titanium White and Burnt Sienna. I noticed that they sell 21 Ml watercolor tubes rather than the usual 15 Ml. Considering I paint 7 days a week, I thought “what the heck” and bought Sennelier rather than the usual Daniel Smith or Winsor and Newton.
Well, I ended up loving the way the colors turned out. So I bought an 8 tube travel set and loved those colors as well.
Now, unless I’m buying exotic colors that Sennelier doesn’t carry, I buy Sennelier paints. I just happen to like them best.
The colors. It comes down to colors.
You’re going to like certain colors more than others. You’ll also like certain consistencies more than others.
You’re going to have preferences and that’s all there is to it. Mine just happen to be for Sennelier because they match my painting style the best.