The best watercolors $20 can buy?!? Pretty Excellent Watercolor Review!

Hi friends! Don’t you just love it when a product exceeds your expectations? I really wasn’t expecting much when I ordered this $20 set of Pretty Excellent watercolors from Amazon a couple of months ago. I had some  money left on a gift card and I loved the color and size of the tin and I fully expected I would be discarding the paint to fill with other pans but boy was I wrong! The paints are beautiful!


It took me a while to review these because I was trying to find something wrong with them. I used them on cards, bookmarks and small paintings and the jewel like colors are rich, clean and vibrant with no shift in color, fading or chalkiness. The lightfast ratings on the box were really good too with 19 out of the 36 colors being absolutely permanent and the remaining ones moderately lightfast. The amount of paint is typical half pan size (I pulled out the insert to make sure the wells were deep.) I contacted the seller Lightwish to see if these paints were the same as the Paul Rubens paints I had seen reviewed a lot lately and they said “Yes, they are the same as the Paul Rubens brand paint. But they also have some difference.” I think the difference is probably the packaging as the Paul Rubens paint comes in a higher end metal tin with individual plastic half pans and a chamois cloth and fancy gift box. If you were looking for a better buy on the Paul Rubens it seems this would be the set. If you were looking for an inexpensive travel set or a gift for an aspiring watercolorist I highly recommend this Pretty Excellent brand one. Watch the video to see them in action and for more information!

Pretty Excellent brand watercolors Review (Affiliate links used)


  • Price: $19.98 for 36 half pans of watercolor *no removable plastic half pans, they are poured in the plastic insert.
  • Bright clean transparent colors
  • Colors mix cleanly
  • Lovely tin/palette
  • Comes with a waterbrush or you can use the storage slot for your favorite brush
  • beautiful smooth colors finely milled
  • According to the back of the box 19 colors are absolutely lightfast and the remaining color were moderately lightfast but no pigment info is provided in English.


  • All the info except color names is in Chinese so if there is pigment info available I can’t read it LOL!

Bottom line, these are an amazing value for the price. There is no chalkiness even in mixes. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to use watercolors and ins’t concerned with pigment composition (urban sketchers, art journalers, scrapbookers, cardmakers) or beginners who want the experience of painting with a high quality transparent watercolor without the high-end price tag. I was really pleased to hear that the pretty excellent paint was the same as the Paul Rubens paint at a much nicer price as the 24 set of Paul Rubens is $39 and you get 36 of the Pretty Excellent paints for $20 in a less fancy tin which suits me fine.

The only downside on these paints is not knowing what pigments are in them. If you take them at their word about the lightfastness they are an incredible value. Keep the back panel of the box to refer to that info if you want it. I hope you found this review helpful and til next time happy crafting!


Review: NEW Premier by Nicole Watercolors from AC Moore

Hi freinds! Today we will look at the Premiere by Nicole watercolors available at AC Moore. Currently they are available in store only but they plan to stock them on their new shopping website soon. I went shopping with my friend Kathy yesterday and saw that these watercolors were on sale 4/$10 this week so if you have a shop locally and you are interested in them after seeing this review you might want to grab some on sale. The Menta brushes by Royal and Langnickel were also 4/$10 if you were looking to grab some.

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These paints are sold individually for $3.99 (regular retail price) and there is a nice selection of colors available. They also have a watercolor pad and brushes in the line. I would rate all of these products student grade and they are priced for the student or hobby market. BTW here are the swatching stamps I used to make the mixing chart. Watch the video below for my in-depth review.


  • Nice variety of colors available
  • Colors dry down well without cracking
  • Dry paint rewets nicely.
  • Glazing is possible


  • No pigment or lightfast information available
  • Some of the colors I received are quite “samey”
  • Some colors were a bit streaky
  • Some colors mixed got a bit chalky

Review: These paints initially reminded me a lot of the Cotman line from Winsor & Newton in the colors, texture and the way they dried down. At the end of the video I compared the exact colors from Premiere to the swatches of the full like of Cotman pans I have and the similarities are striking almost like they were made by the same company. Cotman paints retail for $4.89 a tube but cotman paints contain pigment info wich is a big plus in my book.

They also reminded me of Royal and Langnickel tube paint which is a steal however the R&L paint has an odor and I know some people are bothered by that even though it is faint. R&L paint will crack if dried down so I recommend using that fresh from the tube or adding a bit of glycerin in the wet paint.


These paints will perform very similarly to any other student grade paint however without pigment info and lightfast info available I would not recommend them over other brands that offer that information at the same price. If you want to get a few tubes to try I recommend sticking to a very limited palette of Permanent Rose,Intense blue, and Cadmium yellow as you will get very nice clean mixes and vibrant colors. I think those colors may be single pigment. I think that if you like Cotman watercolors you will like these as they are nearly identical but I’d wait for a sale which luckily ACMoore has often. The paper is quite smooth and reminds me of Canson XL. It is a wood pulp paper and very affordable (about $5.88 for a 9″x12″ pad of 30) I personally like it for rubber stamping and watercoloring those images, it is a great buy for that. The brushes are your standard golden taklon and a bit stiff for my liking in watercolor and will make you watercolor look more streaky. For the same money you can purchase the Menta brushes by Royal & Langnickel also sold at AC Moore. *Reminder both the Menta brushes and Premiere paints are on sale this week at ACM!

Thanks to ACMoore for sending these to me for review. They are very similar to Cotman and I’d give them a try if on sale and you are in need of student paint. Happy crafting!

If you like Prima and Jane Davenport Watercolors You Will Like These too!

Hi friends! After dozens of requests to review these bargain priced paints I bought a set to see what the fuss was about.

I picked up this set of 48 Mungyo “professional” watercolors in a metal palette for $50 on Amazon. I put the word professional in quotes because there is no standard or rules to using the words “artist quality” or “professional” in a paint. It’s like “all natural” or “healthy” in food labeling. There really should be a certification in paint if it is to be called professional like it can’t have more than 5% fillers or extenders or something because it seems price is the only real indicator of quality but even that isn’t always the case. I have found awesome bargains as well as rip offs in my paint reviewing experience.  This blog post is not about my distrust of paint labeling. It is a review of the Mungyo “professional” set of 48 watercolors. What the video for a very thorough review! *Affiliate links are used throughout this post.

I purchased the Mungyo 48 set for $50 on Amazon. I have not seen it available in any art supply stores in the USA. This may be because Mungyo is a brand that private labels products for other companies and it probably doesn’t want to compete with its wholesale customers.  I have seen the Mungyo pastels at Jerry’s Artarama though. BTW here are the swatch and color mixing stamps I use.


  • Bright colors
  • Rewets instantly
  • Low price (about $1 a half pan)
  • Pigment info included
  • Most colors are fairly lightfast
  • Many single pigment colors
  • Mixes well for a budget paint
  • Lovely granulation on hard sized paper (this may be due to extenders in paint tho)


  • Colors lift really easily so glazing is difficult and you can notice the paints start to get chalky if you layer overmixed colors.
  • Some colors uses unusual pigments not usually found in artist quality paints so make a note of the lightfastness info on the pan wrappers.

Right off the bat these paints reminded me of 2 of my favorite craft watercolor paints the Prima Marketing ones and the Jane Davenport watercolors from American Crafts. If you like those paints you can go ahead and get these and be pleased as punch:) The retail of the 12 color sets of the Prima and Jane Davenport are about $30 but I often see them for half as much on amazon (links below) or if your big box craft store stocks them you can use a 40-60% off coupon making the price in line with the Mungyo set. It mostly comes down to the selection of colors you want.

Going by the colors and the pigment numbers supplied on Jane Davenports Website the colors from the neutrals and bright palette are in this set. Going by sight the colors look like they match the majority of the sea glitz palette are also included. You can see my in-depth review of the Jane Davenport watercolors here. Jane Davenport Watercolors to purchase on Amazon (affiliate links used)

I also found matches for the Prima sets: The Classics, Decadent Pies and Tropicals. I went by sight as well as the pigment info found on the Spin Doctors Blog that he obtained from Prima Marketing. You can see all of that info here. I have a review of Prima watercolors here.  *I also noticed that Mungyo sells a pastel set that looks like the pastel dreams one from Prima but Primas is cheaper.
Prima watercolor to buy:

*They also have other sets with more diverse palettes that may or may not have similar colors.

Bottom line these paints are comparable to the Prima and Jane Davenport watercolors but if you already own the sets I mentioned you will have duplicate colors. I think the Mungyo set is fairly priced considering a true professional set of 48 in a metal tin would gor for between $200 and $500. If you want a vibrant set of colors that isn’t too pricey and you don’t want to do a lot of glazing this is a great set. The paint also has a lovely texture for direct painting and loose watercolor florals. I would not call these artist or professional grade as the box suggests tho but they are fun for quick paintings and crafts!

Learn to paint a vintage style rose & Xanadu handmade watercolor overview

Hi friends, today I am going to share some paints I was sent from Xanadu Art Studio. The shop is owned by a woman named Margaret who makes handmade watercolors in small batches. These lovely colors have a subtle shimmer and the soft muted colors are very pretty.


I don’t feel qualified to review these paints because I haven’t ever used any small handmade artisan watercolor before. The Renesans semi handmade paints from Poland were the closest thing I’d tried and they are more like commercially made paint so I didn’t feel it was an apples to apples comparison. So in this video I will give you an overview of the paints and pigments so you can learn about them. Below the video I will link up to other YouTubers who use handmade watercolors more regularly and are more knowledgeable than I am about this kind of paint. Also I’ll show you how to paint my “testing watercolors” vintage rose:) If you would like to learn more about painting loose roses in various arrangements and from different angles as well as a myriad of other flowers please check out my Watercolor Flower Workshop.

Here are some of the resources I mentioned in the video:

These were fun to use, I will use them with brighter colors as the palette is too muted on its own for my linking. Do you use handmade watercolors? If so I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions for getting the most from them. Thank for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Affordable Pro Paints: Renesans Watercolor Review

Hi friends! Today we are going to take a look at Renesans artist watercolors from Poland. There is an ETSY shop in Maine that imports these and sells them in the USA and will be offering them to Canada later this week. These paints are high quality and very affordable with half pans costing $3.50, 15ml tubes at $5.50, sets of 12 for $30 in a metal palette and 24 half pan sets for $58 in a metal palette. Also if you purchase 24 individual half pans you get a metal palette for free. Also with the coupon code FRUGALFAN you can get $3.50 off (the price of a half pan) an order of $60 or more.

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I had many people ask me if I would show how I swatch my paints. I have been using the swatching stamps from Waffle Flower to do all of my swatches now because they keep my swatches so neat and tidy, I highly recommend them! Watch the video to learn about these paints.

I was going to take a photo of the swatch from my swatch binder but the names on the pan wrappers would be too small to read so I am going to list the colors from my hand swatched chart here from left to right:


  • top row: white, flesh tint, lemon yellow, gamboge, cadmium orange, cadmium red, cadmium red deep, geranium lake, mineral violet, cobalt blue, Poland blue, paris blue (top row colors included in 24 set)
  • middle row: raw sienna, cyan blue, prussian blue, cerulean, emerald green, cinnabar green deep, cobalt green, cadmium yellow deep, indian yellow, magenta lake, bordeaux madder lake
  • bottom row: cobalt turquoise, cinnabar green pale, zinc green, golden green, hooker’s green, venetian yellow, raw sienna, stil de grain brown, raw umber, paynes grey, sepia, ivory black (bottom row colors included in the 24 set)

I did not include the tubes in this swatch because I didn’t have them at the time of recording. I did some playing with the colors, I did a quick color wheel with ultramarine blue, quin red and transparent yellow and it was a really nice triad yielding clean bright mixes. I also did a quick face sketch to see how potters pink worked in a shin tone mix, I really like it and am excited to use it more. I think the tube colors are even more clean and vibrant than the tube mixes!


You can see a full list of colors and pigment numbers on A Little Creative shop on Etsy. They are the only distributor in the US (and soon Canada) but if you live in Europe check with your local stores as you should be able to find them at various shops for similar pricing.

Bottom Line: I think these paints are one of the best deals going in artist quality watercolors. The prices for the 15ml tubes are less than many other brands 5ml tubes and the quality in the tubes reminds me of M Graham. The pans are extremely concentrates and easily rewetable. If you travel with your paints I recommend going with the pans as the honey content of the tubes make them slow to dry down. The pans have honey in them too but they dry out completely so maybe they don’t have as much honey in them. The tubes have the pigment info and lightfast information on them but the pans do not but April has listed the pigment info in her shop and is working on adding the lightfast info. The lightfastness is rated in the blue wool scale of 1-8, 8 being excellent lightfastness. I tend to go by the pigment number and what I know about the pigment to make my own judgement about color quality. I hope you find this review helpful.  I want to thank April for sending me these paints to review and til next time happy crafting!

Arteza Watercolor Paint Review

Hi friends! Today we are going to take a look at the new Arteza 36 half pan watercolor set. It currently sells for $34.99 on the Arteza website and there is also a 12 pan set for $24.99  The 36 set is a better deal and the color options would be more useful plus you get 24 extra colors for an extra $10. You can get 10% off with coupon code: PROMO10 and all items ship free making it a low barrier to entry for this or any of their products. You can also find this set on Amazon for $35.99 and there is a $5 off coupon today!

Here is a link to the swatching/color mixing stamps.


I have been using Arteza products for about 10 months and I have been really impressed with the quality for the price. The only Arteza product that I didn’t love was the tube watercolors (they were OK for a student grade but didn’t knock my socks off and I thought there were better student options for around the same price) so when a viewer told me about the pan sets I knew I wanted to give them a try as I often prefer the pan formulations of student/craft grade supplies over tube because inexpensive tube paints contain lots of fillers and water and when you try to dry them down they crack and fall out of your palate most times whereas pans are already dried down so you know exactly what you are getting and they aren’t going to crack. You can see the full review in today’s video:

*Note, these paints are under their “premium” line but I am going to classify them as student grade for reasons I mention in the video. [Edited to add] I heard from two viewers that Arteza’s Premium line is student grade and the Expert line is their artists grade. They also had a Classic line that is kids grade but I never saw any classic supplies on their website so they may have done away with that line.


  • Price
  • Sturdy metal tin palette that is bright white and the paint does not bead up on. Also the mixing flap stays level and doesn’t flop on the table at an angel. *the tin is about 1/4″ shorter than other 48 half pan tins which makes it sturdier but other inserts will not fit in it nor can you sneak an extra half pan in the row.
  • Good for glazing as colors are hard to lift and quite transparent.
  • Wide range of vibrant colors and no white
  • Includes a nice waterbrush

Cons (and I hold Arteza to a high standard so I might be a bit picky here)

  • No pigment info or lightfast ratings *The tube paints have this info
  • The colors had a tendency to stain so lifting could be difficult (but good for glazing)
  • Some of the “fingers” that held the pans in needed to be adjusted with pliers to reach the top of the pans.

Bottom Line: Arteza Pan watercolor paints are fun and inexpensive. They work great on most papers even the really inexpensive Arteza paper. In my tests they worked best wet on dry as they were easy to glide around dry paper with a brush but I found them slow to disperse in a large wet in wet wash. They acted more like Eastern watercolors in that respect. If you like to do loose flowers (like the roses I showed in the video) or paint stamped designs they are a great choice because you can control the flow of the paint better and it stays where you put it but if you prefer large wet in wet washes these might not be the best (or you might need to add some ox-gall as a dispersant/flow enhancer.) They glaze and layer very well but lifting is a challenge so save your whites as you are painting or plan to use mixed media should you want bright white highlights later. At $35 they are a nice set of paints and there is room in the tin if you want to add more (I suggest adding an ultramarine blue) in the future. If you need some inexpensive paints these are a good bet!

BTW a few people asked me how I did my swatches and tests so I will share my process in my next review video that will be out in a week. I think it might be helpful to see how and why I do it because then you can swatch the sets you have and see what the qualities of your paints are. I don’t know why I never thought about sharing that (I guess I thought watching that would be as entertaining as watching paint dry LOL!) but there are things to be learned.  I’ll be posting the landscape tutorial from this video on YouTube tomorrow if you want to see that as well, til then happy crafting!

NEW Ohuhu Markers: Do I Still Recommend Them?

Hi Friends! Today I am comparing the new Ohuhu 100 alcohol marker set vs. the old 80 Ohuhu set I reviewed last year. You can see that review here. They recently came out with a 100 marker set and changed the style of the pens. We will look at what has changed and what is the same in today’s video review.

By the way the cute swatch and color wheel stamps can be purchased at Waffle Flower  or Simon Says Stamp.

I was impressed with both Ohuhu marker sets as they colored smoothly, blended well and came in at about 50 cents a marker. They both also came in a reusable fabric storage case. Both sets blend well with the other alcohol markers I have. Neither sets contain a clear blending marker but you can use any alcohol based colorless blender with them.

What’s improved:

  • More Colors
  • Caps are easier to remove
  • Color index included in case so you can see what you should have (no random or duplicate colors as I have had others complain about in the past. If you get a duplicate or dried marker or if one is missing they will send you a free replacement) and this index is better than cap color but you should still swatch them.
  • The fluorescent colors that were water based (?!?) in the old sets are now alcohol mashed so they will blend with the other colors.

What’s the same:

  • Price: 50 cents a marker or less depending on the size set you buy, the bigger the set the cheaper the marker.
  • Chisel and bullet tips
  • Smooth blending ink for streak free coloring.
  • Reusable cloth case.
  • Bullet tip has grey index band
  • Plastic color chip on each end
  • Same color numbering system, most colors are an exact match for the previous Ohuhu markers.
  • Colors match the numbers (minus the letter code, just look at the numbers) on the Concept markers from Jerry’s Artarama so you can get replacement or additional markers open stock and avoid duplicates.

What is worse with the new markers:

  • The colors on the marker caps all seem a couple of shades lighter than the ink color, the old caps were more accurate.
  • The removed some of the ultra pastel shades (the colors in the 130s and 140s in the original set) in the new coloring system.
  • No name is printed on the caps, only the color number so it can be hard to see what color you have if there are numbers that can read differently upside down (ie 6 and 9s) but usually you can work it out looking at the cap and swatch.

Bottom line: Yes, I still think the Ohuhu markers are a great buy.  You really can’t beat 50 cents a marker! Having such a comprehensive set of 100 in a carrying case for under $50 is a blessing to people who want to use alcohol pens but don’t want to spend the $300+ that Copic original or Copic sketch markers would cost. I always get asked if they can be refilled, they don’t market that feature but you can pull out the chisel nib and drip in refill ink or paling denatured alcohol from the home improvement store to revive them (use alcohol if you left a cap off and the marker died out but has lots of ink or if you have used up the marker and want to make a lighter shade, use ink in a matching shade to reink it.) You can find a matching in by Copic, Blick Studio or Spectrum Noir to reink it or play mad scientist and use a basic set of alcohol inks and denatured alcohol to custom mix inks as needed. A 50 cent marker isn’t too precious to experiment with!

I know the fact that these markers don’t have a brush tip is a deal breaker for most. I get it, brush tip markers are so much easier to blend with. So I have been asked if I think the Copic or Spectrum Noir brush tips will fit these markers. I would give a cautious “probably” to that question however because good brush nibs cost $2 each you will be wiping away the savings of this set, I’d recommend Blick Studio Markers which run $2-$3 each (Plus they now have refill inks) or the set of 48 studio 71 markers which are around $50 or $2 each open stock. The tips on the Blick are foam like Copics and the tips on the Studio 71 are felt and I wouldn’t refill these because I think the brush tip will only last as long as the marker but still a good buy.  You can see a review of the Studio 71 markers here and the Blick Studio Markers here.

Although blending with a brush tip is easier they are a relatively new development in alcohol markers, you can get the same results with a chisel and bullet tip, it is more about what you are used to and the time you put in to learning a new media and far as coloring media goes alcohol markers has one of the steepest learning curves. If you already have alcohol pens and you are frustrated with them don’t run out and buy more thinking a more expensive marker will make the difference. You have to put the time in. I am working on a beginner coloring tutorial today to hopefully help you if you can’t seem to get the hang of alcohol markers and you can use any kind you have.

I think the ohuhu markers are a great set for someone wanting to get into alcohol markers at a low price or a great travel set for someone who doesn’t want to drag out their more expensive marker collection. There is a great selection of colors and nothing you don’t need. They get a “thumbs up” from me! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

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