Monday, October 4, 2010

Rublev Eighteenth Century Watercolor Palette

Browsing the Natural Pigments website recently, I noticed that they have made considerable changes to their "18th Century Watercolor Palette" product since I purchased it in May, 2008.

The lists below compare the old and new paint choices:

2008 Palette 2010 Palette
Lazurite (B29)
Nicosia Green Earth (G23)
Verona Green Earth (G23)
Italian Yellow Earth (Y43)
Gold Ochre (Y43)
Italian Dark Ochre (Y43)
Venetian Red (R102)
Ercolano Red (R102)
Italian Burnt Sienna (Br7)
Cyprus Burnt Umber Warm (Br7)
French Raw Umber (Br7)
German Vine Black (Bk8)
Prussian Blue (B27)
Green Earth (G23)
Olive Green (G23)
Yellow Ochre (Y43)
Gamboge (NY24)
Vermilion (R106)
Madder Lake (NR9)
Indian Red (R102)
Burnt Sienna (Br7)
Burnt Umber (Br7)
Payne's Grey (Bk9)
Bone Black (Bk9)

Because I do not have the updated palette on hand, I can only approximate the paint choices based on my own knowledge. Rublev make three Burnt Umber paints, and two Burnt Sienna paints (all of which I own) - so while I can make an educated guess, it is still a guess.  With a nod to Bruce MacEvoy, I have provided two small diagrams to help visualise the paint differences and their approximate place on the colour wheel:

C18th Palette, 2008
C18th Palette, 2010
As you can see, this is quite a radical shift in terms of palette colour and mixing range.  The main improvement of the new palette is that the paints chosen are better spaced within the colour wheel.  The two yellow paints were originally quite interchangeable unless applied full strength, and their mixing capability was similar. The addition of Gamboge (fugitive NY24) should make for sweeter yellow tints.  With the introduction of Madder Lake (fugitive NR9) and Prussian Blue, purple becomes possible - the previous mixture of Lazurite and Venetian Red could only produce a greyed violet-brown colour. However, the loss of subtle Lazurite is a sad one, as it is a lovely and highly textural paint.  Gone are Ercolano and Venetian Red, instead we have Indian Red (a favourite paint of mine) and bright Vermilion - the pretty but toxic PR106.

Original C18th Palette
(A comparison image of the updated C18th Palette will be added shortly.) 

I have tested almost every watercolour paint in the Rublev line, and all have delightful textural properties.  I use these paints mostly for small works or field sketches, as the paints are best applied and then left alone. Re-wetting them and brushing over them lifts them and destroys the texture.  The updated palette introduces mostly staining paints - this will reduce lifting with the brush in mixtures and help to make the paints a little easier to use.  While the updated choices are a good introduction to historical paint, I do wish strident Prussian Blue was not the only blue choice.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Laura, and sorry that I'm over four years late, I just found this page and thank you for this very informative article.

    It seems that Rublev have changed their 18thc palette around once again. This is their current offering for the 18thc set:

    Prussian Blue
    Verona Green Earth
    Antica Green Earth
    Lemon Ocher
    Cobalt Yellow (Aureolin)
    Indian Red
    French Burnt Sienna
    Cyprus Umber Medium
    Italian Burnt Umber
    Bone Black

    How does this current palette figure on the colour spectrum, in terms of your previous two diagrams, Laura? I ask because I am very interested in buying this set and would like to have an informed opinion (yours!) :-)

    I downloaded one of their digital catalogs and wanted to buy this palette, but when I went to their web site last week, I also noticed that the heavyweight tin had been replaced with what looks like a lightweight tin (both of which look similar to the two types of W&N tins.) I was also put-off by their statement:

    "Note: We may substitute colors that are out of stock or unavailable at the time of your order with similar hues of equal or greater value."

    Well, that might be acceptable to some folks, but it puts me off by not knowing that I will get exactly what they say is in the tin. After all, this item is a bit expensive and their waiver gives them considerable leverage in changing the colours, if they decide to do so.

    I will get around to buying this set, maybe when I get up the courage to call them in America and ask them all the questions I have on this item. Thank you once again, Laura!