Review and comparison of St. Petersburg watercolour paints

It’s been some weeks now since I received my complete set of St. Petersburg watercolours (I post-ordered the missing colours in the above palette.)

The past few days I’ve been working some jungles and birds with a few different brands of watercolour so that I could compare the brands. I worked with Winsor & Newton’s Cotman, Talens Rembrandt, Schmincke Horadam and, of course, St. Petersburg. There are a thing or two to be said about it. I was trying to determine the most vivid colours and for that I can say that in all honesty it doesn’t matter all too much which of the brands I used. Actually, the St. Petersburg colours weren’t bad at all. The weakest colours came off Rembrandt. They seemed to dry a bit duller and blander than any of the others. The Schmincke Horadam is super colourwise, but the pigments are so fine that they are harder to use for colourflows and mixes on paper. It gets too pretty for my liking here and there. The Cotman is pretty finely pigmented too, but it allows very generously for some intended accidents and clashes of colourflows. The St. Petersburg has somewhat coarser pigment particles, it seems, but is still strongly coloured and vivid and allows for great colour texture resulting from flows. The pigments sink down in nice patterns.

Both Schmincke Horadam and St. Petersburg come off the pans really easily. Both brands’ pans have a pasty substance. Great for the way I use it. Because I don’t make classic watercolours with really thin layers. I use a LOT of pigment on my paper. As a result, I found that the Horadam paint came off the palette a bit too easily, so my pans have gaping holes in them already. When wet, they get awesomely soft. Great, but a little hard to dose. The same applies to the St. Petersburg paints, but they are so inexpensive that it didn’t bother me as much. Seeing the Horadam go so quickly, gave little pangs of hurt in my purse!

The only thing I’m worried about with the St. Petersburg, is lightfastness. I’m under the impression that some colours are fading rather quickly (like ceruleum blue, cobalt blue, violet) when left in daylight. Considering the price, you could expect that to be so. It would be strange to have a top quality paint for a fraction of the price.

All things considered, I find it hard to determine which watercolour paint I like best. If you want to keep the painting on the wall, choose top quality and then I like Schmincke Horadam best (I also tried two colours Winsor&Newton Artist’s watercolour, but didn’t like that very much) for its vibrant colours. Rembrandt is not bad, but Schmincke is just that bit more vivid and bright.

When you use watercolour for illustrations or art that will be reproduced and kept in a dark drawer, then both Cotman and St. Petersburg do fine. Talens Van Gogh is also great, by the way. I have used that before. I just like the colours of the Cotman ranger better in that they offer some nicer blues and violets than the Van Gogh. So, when you opt for the more affordable, you can buy whichever’s best available to you: Van Gogh or Cotman. St. Petersburg looks a bit like gouache here and there, so if you’re looking to work in thicker layers of paint, for an affordable price, then St. Petersburg is your paint!