Winsor & Newton : Professional Watercolor Paint


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  • 100+ colors available in 5ml, 14ml, 37ml tubes and Half Pans
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Since 1832 when Henry Newton and William Winsor introduced the first moist watercolours to the world, much of Winsor & Newton's reputation has stemmed from the Professional Watercolour range. Since then Professional Watercolour continues to be formulated and manufactured according to Winsor and Newton's founding principles; to create a top-quality watercolour range which offers artists a wide and balanced choice of pigments with excellent permanence.

Each colour in their extensive range has been selected and formulated to offer the greatest choice so that artists can use a unique palette that best suits their work.

Sizes available
The Professional Watercolour range offers a wide and balanced spectrum of 109 colours in Half Pans, Whole Pans and in 5ml and 14ml tubes. A limited range of 30 colours are available in 37ml tubes.

Professional Watercolour Tubes or Pans
Both Professional Watercolour tube and pan colours are made individually to the highest standards. Pan colour is often used by beginners because it can be less inhibiting and easier to control the strength of colour. Tube colour is more popular overall, used by artists who use high volumes of colour or stronger washes of colour. Many painters have both - this is because pan colours are useful when travelling and sketching. Of course, artists can use both tube and pan together if they wish.

In simple terms, a watercolour is produced by combining (or suspending) a pigment with a binder, for example, Gum Kordofan, a type of Gum Arabic. The formulations for W&N Professional Watercolours are each unique and vary according to the nature and behaviour of each individual pigment. With this in mind, and with a range which has thousands of different applications by millions of artists worldwide, they rely on expert chemists who have excellent knowledge in understanding and formulating Professional Watercolour.

These chemists have learned from the chemists before them who also spent their working lives at Winsor & Newton - since William Winsor died in 1865, they have only had four chief chemists! Thanks to their experience and expert knowledge, they can continue to formulate a high-quality range using the best pigments.

Pigment Choice
Watercolour more than any other medium relies upon the variable characteristics of the pigments used. As it is essentially a staining technique, everything rests on the handling properties of the pigments; whether they can produce a smooth wash or a textured wash; how opaque or transparent they are; the brilliance and strength of their colour; and so on. With this in mind, it has always been - and will continue to be - Winsor & Newton's aim to provide artists with the widest possible range of pigments to give them the greatest choice and flexibility.

Single Pigments in the Range
Wherever possible, single pigments have been used in Professional Watercolour to ensure that Winsor & Newton offer the widest choice of colours and pigment characteristics or positions, such as hue, particle size, transparency, tinting strength, etc. This helps broaden the artist's options. Single pigment formulations are purer in hue and cleaner in colour than mixtures of pigments, providing a larger number of colour mixes before resulting in muddy effects. With 80 single pigment colours in the range they offer the widest range of modern and traditional pigments for clean colour mixing.

Mixed Pigments
Although mixed pigments inevitably lose some degree of chroma or brightness, there are many reasons why they still choose to formulate with them. In some instances, they can achieve a higher level of permanence over a single pigment alternative, e.g., Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Hookers Green. In other instances, some pigments have to be mixed to achieve a given formulation. For example, Quinacridone Gold where the pigment itself is no longer available.

Colour Series
The Professional Watercolour range is split into 4 groups termed 'Series'. The series indicates the relative price of the colour and is determined mainly by the cost of the pigment. Series 1 is the least expensive colour and Series 4 the most expensive.

Colour Strength
The strength of each colour in the Professional Watercolour range has been maximised by combining the most advanced colour manufacturing techniques with the most recent developments in pigment technology. Optimum colour strength offers the artists greater tinting possibilities.

Colour Range
Winsor & Newton choose their colours according to mass tone (colour from tube), undertone (bias of colour when in a thin film), colour strength, relative opacity and the character of the pigment in water colour, ie. granulating, staining or even wash. The resultant colour spectrum ensures the largest number of colours can be mixed from the range.

Today the Professioanl Watercolour range benefits from continued advancements in pigment technology and production methods to enable Winsor & Newton to build upon their already high standards to produce even brighter, more transparent and more stable colours. Equally important, many of their formulations remain the same - proving that they cannot be bettered.

Transparency & Opacity
Winsor & Newtons Professional Watercolours exhibit unrivalled transparency due to the unique pigment dispersion in the manufacture of the colour. This is particularly important because transparency is the key characteristic of watercolour. As a result of the thinness of the watercolour film, all colours have a transparent quality on paper, allowing the reflective white of the paper to shine through. However, pigments do retain their natural characteristics to some degree. For example, transparent pigments refract light in much the same manner as stained glass, making jewel-like brilliance and clean mixing. Opaque colours such as cadmiums are likely to cover significantly more than transparent colours.

The varying transparency and opacity of a pigment will affect the optical character of the individual colour as well as how the colour mixes with other colours. The most transparent colours will enable you to create a pure glazing effect by applying a number of washes on top of one another. The more opaque colours give flatter washes and greater covering over previous washes. Opaque colours are also useful for toning down colour mixtures.

The addition of Gum Arabic will also increase transparency. By adding Gum Arabic to a colour wash, you will achieve even greater transparency and luminosity from your washes.

Some pigments show a characteristic called granulation, where the way in which the pigment particles settle in the paper creates a mottled effect. For many artists, granulation is highly desirable because it adds visual texture to their paintings. Even within granulating colours, different effects are apparent when they are brushed out onto paper. Some fine pigments rush together in huddles, more commonly called “flocculation”, whilst other heavy pigments fall into the hollows of the paper surface.

As a general statement, the traditional pigments granulate, e.g., cobalts, earths, ultramarine, etc... The modern organic pigments do not, e.g., Winsor colours. Granulating colours are marked on hand painted and printed colour charts with a “G” beneath the colour chip. They are also detailed in the Colour Charts and the Spectrum Colour Lists. Granulation Medium gives a mottled or granular appearance to colours that usually give a smooth wash, such as Winsor Blue (Red Shade). By adding Granulation Medium to colours that already granulate, such as French Ultramarine, the effect is further enhanced.

As watercolour relies upon the relative absorbency of the paper surface for stability, more powerful colours such as Prussian Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and the modern organic pigments such as Winsor colours, penetrate or stain more than others. These colours cannot be lifted completely with a damp sponge. The traditional inorganic colours and earths tend to lift more easily from the paper. Those colours that are more likely to stain a surface are marked “St“ on the Professional Watercolour Chart. 

Since 1832, one of Winsor & Newton's founding principles has been to offer a range of Professional Watercolours that has the greatest possible permanence. 106 out of 109 colours in their Professional Watercolour range are classed as 'permanent for artists' use', rated AA or A for archival permanence to ensure that these colours used today will appear the same for generations to come.

Opera Rose
Sometimes certain desirable or historical colours cannot be achieved or matched unless less lightfast materials are used.

In the past, this was much more common and the ethic of Winsor & Newton was that they must provide choice. After all, many artists may not need the original work of art to be permanent in itself, e.g., illustrators or designers.

Opera Rose is a case in point. Quinacridone Red and Quinacridone Magenta are vivid, lightfast violets which have proved to be hugely useful to botanical artists who specifically require their original work of art to be lightfast. Opera Rose, however, offers a brightness beyond any of these lightfast colours and is so desirable because it can represent the most vivid colours in the garden. Although a B rating, Opera Rose is in fact significantly more lightfast than any of the older pigments of its type. This is one new colour where the hue will be more desirable for some artists than the ultimate longevity of the colour.

The quest for permanence has turned water colour from a less lightfast, delicate media into one which is equal to oil colour despite the extreme dilution of the paint film. Recently available pigments have enabled Winsor & Newton to meet that quest.

It's worth remembering that Opera Rose, even with its astonishing brilliance, is equal to or superior in permanence than many of the commonly used 19th century pigments.


Product CodeP-WNPW
To Use WithWatercolor


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