Arteza Watercolor Pencils Expert
Arteza Watercolor Pencils Expert.
I have had the pleasure of reviewing quite a few Arteza products and I am glad to say that this review is no different. To date I have reviewed the Arteza Colored Pencils as well as their amazing Watercolor Brush Pens, in fact, I personally feel that my best watercolor work was done using the Arteza Watercolor Brush Pens.
Throughout this review of the Arteza Watercolor pencils, I also talk a little bit about their water brush pens and Arteza’s new Premium watercolor pads, however, as I mention in the video review, I will be taking a much more in depth look at the water brush pen set dedicating a full review to them.
Arteza Watercolor Pencils Sets Available.
I normally don’t start my reviews of with this information, however there is not really much to say about the sets. Currently there are only two sets available, a 48 set and 72 set, there are no open stock availability, however, when you see the price point of these pencils, given their excellent quality, I am not sure it would work out well for the company to see their pencils open stock.
I would however like to point out that Arteza do another Watercolor pencil called the Premium, these come in a tube as opposed to the Expert tin and I think the barrel is triangular for the Premium. I only mention this because, should you decide to purchase a set of the Arteza Watercolor Pencils on the basis of this review, make sure you purchase the right set. I am not suggesting that the premium pencils are bad quality, I just personally have not tested or reviewed them and so cannot comment one way or the other.
Arteza Watercolor Pencil Characteristics.
The first thing to note about the Arteza Watercolor Pencil is the barrel shape, with the Arteza Colored Pencils they sported a nice round barrel, however here we have a hexagonal barrel. A lot of colored pencil artists much prefer the hexagonal barrel based of the less likelihood of the pencils rolling of the studio desk and shattering the internal core.
The core is a generous 4mm, protected by a 7.5mm barrel, give or take a mm. All barrels are painted the same color as the core, therefor making pigment selection visually snappy, however, as is the case with so many colored pencils, markers etc, the pigment identifier does not always represent the actual pigment one hundred percent. This is why I always recommend swatching any art supply you purchase and if at all possible on the paper you normally use, this will give you an accurate account of what the pigment looks like before using it.
Along one side of the Arteza Watercolor barrel is the company name “Arteza” followed by a paintbrush icon, indicting that the pencil is water soluble. Moving along from this is stamped the pencil brand which in this case is the “Expert” pencil.
On the opposite side of the barrel, printed in silver foil is the pigment name, this is followed by an alpha numerical number which corresponds to the pigment. Finally the lightfast information is displayed in the form of a + symbol. There is a silver band depicted on all pencils half an inch before the end of the barrel, this is purely decorative.
All Arteza Watercolor Pencils come pre-sharpened in the tin which is always a welcome, I personally have never had an issue with sharpening any Arteza pencils, both the watercolor and colored pencils. Of all the pencils I only came across one pencil were the core was shattered and sharpening was an issue, however, in fairness I am not sure if this was something I had done as two pencils drop off my desk but I cant remember which ones.
Arteza Watercolor Pencils Performance.
I have to say, right off the bat, because I had tested and reviewed the Arteza Colored Pencils and loved them, I have to be honest and tell you that I was expecting the Arteza Watercolor Pencils to be quite good. I was wrong, they were much better than quite good, fantastic in fact.
I first of all swatched the Arteza Watercolor Pencils dry as I always do, this just simply shows me the true pigment of the pencil before activation, in the event I want to use the pencil dry. I then completed a second swatch were I activated the pigments as intended and again this gives me a visual understanding of how the pigments are going to perform wet.
When I was completing the swatching process for both dry and wet formats, I did observe one small issue which was exactly the same for the Arteza Colored Pencils. There are three pencils in particular were the pigments are so incredibly similar, I defy anyone to tell a noticeable and functional difference. The three pigments are Yellow Ochre, Turmeric and Honey, beautiful colours in their own right, however I just feel that they are so similar, removing two of them and replacing them with two other pigments, for example perhaps two more greys.
There are another three pigments which could come under the same critique, however not on the level of the three just mentioned. The three pigments are Fruit Punch, Flamingo and Peony; as I mentioned not quite as bad as the above mentioned pigments, but two other pigments I feel could be included in replacement of say the Flamingo and Peony. I am of course nit picking, but it is a valid point.
When laying down the colors in their dry format, even at this stage it is clear to see that the pigment strength of the colors activated is going to be strong. There is a real depth to the pigments, even the lighter tones, tones such as Ivory and Apricot, showed up well in the dry format.
Once activate with water, the pigments come to life, almost like turning on a light switch and watching the bright fairy lights twinkle. I personally find watercolor pencils such an interesting and versatile medium, but, this does not always go hand in hand with quality. With the Arteza Watercolor Pencils, throughout my testing they ticked all the boxes I personally look for in a watercolor pencil.
Arteza Watercolor Pencil Lightfast Information
I will say in advance, that the lightfast information surrounding Arteza has been considered a tad complicated and from what I can tell, this has come from conflicting information, from both Arteza and bloggers such as myself, of which I have been complicit in.
One of the really exciting aspects of the Arteza pencils when they first hit the market was their amazing price point, the high quality of their products and the fact they were considered lightfast. The information surrounding lightfastness in itself is incredibly complicated, even though there are only two standards in which we measure our products lightfastness against, the ASTM and Blue Wool. I am in the process of writing an full account of both these systems and why one is considered better than the other, if in fact they are better and a lot more information, which I will be publishing soon.
But for the issue about the Arteza Lightfastness I will keep this section as brief as I can. When I reviewed the Arteza Colored Pencils, as always I went directly to the company and asked them about their lightfast rating. I was told back them that their pencils were rated using the Plus symbol ( + ), so I was originally told that one + indicated “Good”, two ++ was “Very Good” and three +++ was “Excellent”. At the time this actually made sense to me as 11 pencils rated + so Good, 20 pencils rated ++ Very Good and 40 pencils rated +++ which was excellent. Where the confusion began was the fact one pencil was rated four pluses ++++, which at the time I thought was a mistake as Arteza told me the pencils were rated out of three pluses +++. However, based on the information I was told by Arteza for the Colored Pencils, I was incredibly excited about such excellent lightfast ratings as according to what I was originally told, only 11 pencils could not be used for professional artists to use in commission work.
Then I review the Watercolor pencils and again I asked Arteza to explain their rating system because after the colored pencil review I completed a lot of people had been told conflicting information and wanted clarification. However, this time I was told that one + = Excellent, two ++ = Very Good and three +++ = Good. However, as with the Arteza Colored Pencils, the numbers are the same with the Watercolor Pencils, so 11 pencils = One + Excellent, 20 pencils = Two ++ Very Good and 40 pencils = Three +++ Good and of course there is a Four ++++ pencil in the set, so the colored pencil review I completed was obviously not a mistake, so what is the value of Four ++++. Based on this new information, if a professional colored pencil artist wanted to use the Arteza Watercolor pencils for a commission, they could only use 31 pencils out of 72, all those pencils rated + or ++.
Although I have taken the time to highlight this information regarding the lightfast rating of the Arteza Watercolor Pencils, I really personally feel that too much weight is placed on lightfast information, especially when you get to read the post I have been working on for the past year, back and forth emailing employees of both the ASTM system and Blue Wool system. I know that lightfast pigments are incredibly important for artists selling work or submitting to galleries, but for so many other artists ie adult coloring book enthusiasts or people such as myself who create art just for themselves, lightfastness is not the most important factor.
I personally feel that Arteza would have been better of not mentioning lightfastness at all, because either way, professional CP artist will not be able to use the majority of the pencils, but I still feel with the amazing quality of Arteza’s products, people would still flock to them in the droves they have been and rightly so. Excellent quality products at affordable prices is an outstanding deal.
Arteza Watercolor Pencils Pricing
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Arteza only sell a 48 set and 72 set, here in the UK, the 48 set of Arteza Watercolor Pencils will cost you £17.99 and the largest 72 set will cost you £24.99
In the US, the 48 set of Arteza Watercolor Pencils will cost you $16.98 and for the largest 72 set it will cost you $30.99.
In Europe, the 48 set of Arteza Watercolor Pencils will cost you €19.99 and the largest 72 set will cost you €28.49.
Arteza Watercolor Pencils Conclusion
I have to say, with those incredibly minor nit picky issues such as the similar pigments set aside, I personally feel that Arteza are laying the foundations of something really specially within the art community. I have said it many times before regarding kids getting into art, parents, such as myself back in the day, would spend £10 on a set of 100 art pencils, felt tip pens, watercolors etc and think the kids were going to love them. As soon as the kids used them they were set aside five minutes latter because they didn’t experience fun, the pigments were washed etc and art was given up. But now with the likes of what Arteza are achieving, so many young artists are going to experience high quality art supplies but at affordable prices for parents. The vivid colors and ease of use from the Arteza products will capture their imaginations and allow them to create whatever their mind can muster.
I loved the Arteza Watercolor pencils, just as I did with the Colored Pencils and Brush Pen Set. If you are new to watercolor pencils, I would highly recommend getting yourself a set of these and give them ago. If they are not for you, and watercolor painting is not for everyone, you have not wasted a large sum of money.
I take my hat of to Arteza and long may this continue, it is a personal passion of mine to get young people involved in art, try to take them away from social media, get them out of the house and really watch the world around them in order to recreate a beautiful painting. Our young people are under far too much stress and I think art, with the help of companies like Arteza can make a huge difference.
Don’t forget to see a full demonstration of the Arteza Watercolor Pencils in action you can head over to my YouTube channel of the same name “The Art Gear Guide” and watch my speed drawing using the Arteza Watercolor Pencils on a botanical piece. Alternatively you can simply check out some still images of the art coming together. Finally you can sit back with a tea or coffee and listen to my YouTube review of the Arteza Watercolor pencils and let me, help guide you through the pros and cons and determine if these pencils could find a place in your art arsenal.