Roman Szmal’s Aquarius Watercolour range already has a wide collection of 165 colours, most of which are single pigment, which ensures clean mixing and allows artists to really customise the colours on their palette. Roman Szmal have recently announced that they are expanding the range further to include 15 new colours in full pans, including 3 colours containing Earth Pigments, and 3 sets.
Something to note when initially looking at the new colours, there are quite a few pigments that are not commonly found in other watercolour ranges. The first in this list, Quinophthalone Yellow, I have only seen listed by one other paint manufacturer. Out of the 15 new colours, at least 12 are single pigments.
Each colour is made with high-quality gum arabic and glycerin, linden honey, distilled water and pure pigments. Every pan is hand filled and labelled with watercolour paper.
Quinophthalone Yellow (PY138)
Quinophthalone Yellow is a very bright, clean intense yellow, which when diluted gives a delicate lemon tone. It is not found in many watercolour ranges and does somewhat resemble Hansa Yellow Light in hue.
Quinacridone Gold Hue (PR102/PY150)
Perfect for warm green shades, the transparency of Quinacridone Gold Hue also lends itself to glazing. A deep, rich almost brownish/orange yellow in masstone which when diluted produces a warm, yellow gold colour.
Chrome Orange Hue (PO82)
Another colour which is not often featured in watercolour ranges, Chrome Orange Hue is an alternative to the original toxic chromium orange.
Blue Ridge Raw Sienna (PY43, Earth Pigment)
A natural yellow iron oxide, which has been obtained from deposits in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the USA. Leaning towards an orange/yellow brown in masstone with warm undertones, when diluted Blue Ridge Raw Sienna exhibits a lovely warm gold colour.
Blue Ridge Burnt Sienna (PBr7, Earth Pigment)
A natural brown iron oxide, which has been obtained from deposits in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the USA. Blue Ridge Burnt Sienna is a rich, deep brown that does have a hint of red within it, making it much warmer in tone.
Dark Ochre (PY43, Earth Pigment)
Dark Ochre is much deeper in tone than regular Yellow/Golden Ochre and leans toward brown.
Ginger Red (PR290)
A warm, granular orange/brown with a distinct red shade, mixing Ginger Red with green it makes a lovely green grey.
Quinacridone Scarlet (PR N/A)
Quinacridone Scarlet is a bright, clean red which is slightly warmer in tone than Perylene Red.
Perylene Red (PR178)
Perylene Red is a versatile, intense, deep red which when mixed with yellows and golds creates autumnal oranges, and when mixed with Phthalo Green, a wonderful neutral grey.
Quinacridone Purple (PV55)
Quinacridone Purple is a lovely, rich, purple which has a slight reddish tone, again is not seen in many watercolour ranges.
Ultramarine Intense (PB29)
Unlike French Ultramarine, Ultramarine Intense is not as granulating, which allows for some really nice blending to be achieved.
Cobalt Green Deep (PG26)
Cobalt Green Deep is a dark, granulating, subdued almost grey green which is ideal for creating earthy tones. Mixed with reds, it can create some interesting greys and is great for foliage and landscapes.
Iron Chrome Brown (PBr29)
Similar in tone to Manganese Brown, Iron Chrome Brown is a brownish to bluish/black shade. It is also one of the shades which appears to be unique to Roman Szmal.
Manganese Brown (PY164)
A great colour for rendering shadows, branches and landscapes generally, Manganese Brown is ideal for when black may be too intense.
Shadow Grey (PB29/PBr7/PV19)
Shadow Grey is a neutral grey which leans towards blue-violet. This is the only new colour which contains a combination of three pigments (Ultramarine Blue, Iron Oxide and Quinacridone rose) and is a grey that doesn’t contain black – ideal for stormy skies and shadows. It is also a great alternative to having black in your palette.
The top two mixes feature Perylene Red, one with Phthalo Green (Lukas 1862 Watercolours) and the other with the new Quinacridone Gold Hue. The Perylene Red mixed with Phthalo Green creates a lovely grey that is slightly on the warmer side. Perylene Red and Quinacridone Gold Hue create a deep, autumnal orange at full strength.
Next is Cobalt Green Deep mixed with Permanent Alizarin Crimson and then Ginger Red – the first mix creates a lovely warm reddish, muted purple. Ginger Red is one of the pigments unique to Roman Szmal, when mixed with Cobalt Green Deep creates an earthy grey green that would be useful for dark foliage or shadows.
Ultramarine Intense mixed with Permanent Alizarin Crimson as expected gives a wonderful blue violet, however what is great about the Ultramarine Intense is that it is less granulating than a traditional French Ultramarine so you can get a nice block of solid colour. A classic mix, Ultramarine Intense and Blue Ridge Burnt Sienna gives scope to a wide range of greys, both warm and cool depending on the ratio.
Lastly and probably my favourite of the mixes I tried out was Quinophthalone Yellow and Phthalo Green. I guessed this would create a bright, vibrant, intense green and it certainly didn’t disappoint. A true what I would call apple/lime luminous green.
Alongside the 15 new colours, three sets have been released in collaboration with artists Mona Omrani, Jane Blundell and Izabela Wolska-Kusmider.
Chosen by watercolourist Mona Omrani, this set of 28 Full Pans features some colours that were introduced in 2020 such as Misty Morning and one of the newest shades, Blue Ridge Burnt Sienna. The colours within this set include:
Titanium White, Benzymidazole Yellow, Nickel Azo Yellow, Permanent Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cyprus Raw Umber, Aquarius Grey, Scarlet Red, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Cherry Quinacridone Red, Quinacridone Magenta, Dioxazine Violet, Shadow Violet, Misty Morning, Lavenda, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Intense, Phthalo Blue GS, Indigo (Hue), Payne’s Grey, Aquarius Green, Permanent Green Light, Hooker’s Green, Phthalo Green BS, Blue Ridge Burnt Sienna, Sepia, Neutral Tint and Aquarius Black.
Selected by artist and teacher Jane Blundell, this set of 24 full pans is a balanced palette which will allow you to paint a range of subjects. Included within the set is a convenient orange (Aquarius Orange) and a purple (Mineral Violet). It also contains a great range of realistic greens, which will be great for foliage and landscapes. The colours within this set include:
Buff Titanium, Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold (PO48 + PY150 version), Aquarius Orange, Pyrrol Scarlet, Pyrrol Rubine, Quinacridone Red, Mineral Violet, Ultramarine Intense, Cobalt Cerulean Blue, Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), Cobalt Turquoise, Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), Perylene Green, Aquarius Green, Sap Green Light, Gold Ochre, Goethite, Mummy Transparent Red, Blue Ridge Burnt Sienna, Indian red, Cyprus Burnt Umber, Cyprus Raw Umber Deep and Shadow Grey.
Izabela Wolska-Kusmider is a botanical artist and has chosen this configuration of 12 colours:
Aquarius Yellow, Permanent Yellow, Quinacridone Gold, Benzimidazole Orange, Permanent Red, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Magenta, Quinacridone Pink, Dioxazine Violet, French Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue Red Shade and Cobalt Cerulean Blue.
In terms of botanical painting and what colours you would need to get started, this set provides a good base – most botanical artists and palettes will contain a range of pinks/reds and a few yellows and blues to enable you to make a range of greens. While I am definitely not a botanical watercolourist I thought it would be good to try out the colours and see what I could come up with. I didn’t struggle to create any of the tones in the purple Iris that I painted and the 3 blues within the set enable you to create both warm and cool tones.
Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolours on jacksonsart.com:
Roman Szmal Aquarius watercolours are available individually here, the majority of the new colours can be found at the top of the colour chart.
The three new sets, along with the existing sets can be found here