The story of the Fratelli Maimeri company began in Italy in 1923. Painter Gianni Maimeri was unsatisfied with the oil colours available on the market and, with the help of his brother Carlo Maimeri, they produced a range of fine art oil paints that were based on oil and pigment, without any added fillers.
Over the last century, the Maimeri range has expanded to offer other fine art materials, including MaimeriBlu watercolours. The MaimeriBlu range is formulated to professional standards, with a rigorous level of testing. Pigments are processed in refining machines, whose settings are fine-tuned to achieve the right pigment particle size, and each batch is tested for optimum lightfastness, viscosity, and stability over time.
As a watercolourist, I enjoy discovering the differences between artist watercolours, and I was excited to give Maimeri’s watercolours a go.
For this article I tried a metal box set of 36 half pans and five individual 12ml tubes. When trying a watercolour range for the first time, I like to look at the pigments they contain, how well the paint rewets, and the qualities of the individual colours themselves.
Use of Single Pigments
I’m struck by the fact that all of the MaimeriBlu watercolours are made with a single pigment – something I’ve never seen in any other watercolour range.
Single pigment colours contain only one pigment, indicated by the pigment index number which identifies the chemical composition of the pigment (Ultramarine Blue, for example, has a pigment index number of PB29). While all watercolour ranges contain a selection of single pigment colours, most ranges also include colours that contain a blend of pigments. For example, a single pigment Cobalt Blue (considered to be ‘genuine’ Cobalt Blue) is PB28, while some paint makers will use a blend of pigments to match the colour of the genuine pigment. E.g. Cobalt Blue made with a mixture of PB29 (Ultramarine Blue), PB15 (Phthalo Blue), PW6 (Titanium White). There are many reasons why paint makers will use a mixture of pigments instead of just one. Some pigments are very expensive, and they might choose to use a mixture of less expensive pigments to keep the price down for the artist. Historical colours, like Indigo, were originally made using pigments that were fugitive (not lightfast), so modern versions of the colour are created with other pigments. Sometimes it’s the case that a pigment simply isn’t suitable for a particular medium, which is why you won’t find a genuine Prussian Blue (PB27) in acrylics.
Single pigments can play a particular role in colour mixing. As a general rule, the more pigments there are in a mixture, the muddier the colour will be. For this reason, some artists prefer to use single pigment colours in their palette because they are generally best for clean, glowing colour mixtures, and they allow you to experience the unadulterated properties of each pigment. It seems that the MaimeriBlu range is ideal for artists who value single pigments.
Swatching the Colours
I tend to prefer tubes of watercolour rather than pans, so I started by trying the 12ml tubes of Ultramarine Blue, Green Gold, Turquoise Green, Permanent Madder Deep, and Neutral Tint. The tube colours have a creamy consistency, without the stickiness of some watercolours (particularly those that contain honey). On the paper, the colours are rich and smooth. Two of my favourites are Ultramarine Blue (PB29) which is jewel-like and characteristically granulating, with a particularly reddish undertone, and Turquoise Green (PB16) – a deep greenish-blue when applied heavily and bright blue-green when diluted. It would make some very atmospheric greys if mixed with orange and used transparently.
The 36 half pans in the set are housed in a sturdy metal palette with two mixing surfaces. The pans are standard half-pan size, so they will fit any watercolour tin, though I like the design of the metal tin they came in, which feels robust and well-made. Removable dividers hold the pans in place, ensuring they don’t slip.
When I was unwrapping the pans, I found that some of the paper wrapping stuck to the surface of a few of the colours which I had to rub off with water. This was inconvenient and meant that I wasted a small amount of the paint. Once I started using the pans, I found that they rewet nicely and it was easy to get a good colour load on the brush.
It’s true for all watercolour ranges that it’s easier to get a strong colour load when using watercolour straight from the tube, because you can dilute it minimally with water and really saturate the brush. Below I compared Green Gold (PY129) from the tube (top) to Green Gold from the pan (bottom). While the masstone was deepest in the tubed colour, I think that the intensity of colour from the pan compared well. Green Gold is a great colour for mixing, particularly for landscape painting – it makes rich, earthy oranges when mixed with magenta.
One of my favourite colours in the range is Orange Lake (PO43), which is part of the 36 half pan set. It is a particularly vibrant and opaque red-orange that reveals a peachy undertone when diluted.
The great thing about painting with single pigment colours is that you can work with the individual properties of the pigments themselves, from the vibrant and non-granulating Orange Lake, to the gentle and highly granulating Potters Pink (PR233).
While single pigment colours are certainly not unusual, Maimeri’s commitment to only using single pigments sets them apart from other watercolour ranges. I would recommend them to artists who value single pigments, as well as those who want to explore colour mixing with watercolour and achieve the best results.
If you’d like to try the MaimeriBlu watercolours for yourself, you can receive a free Maimeri 6 colour Dot Card with any purchase of watercolour paint on jacksonsart.com. This offer is available in the UK only and is limited to 1 per order. Available while stocks last.