NEW Derwent Pastel Watercolor Review

Hi friends, today we are taking a look at the new Derwent pastel watercolor pan paint set of 12. You can find it on the Derwent website as well as a download of the color swatch with lightfast info and on Amazon USA. (affiliate link) This product sold out shortly after my review went live on YouTube but it is a new product and I’m sure it will be restocked soon. You can take this as an opportunity to decide if this is something that would add to the supplies you already have.

*This product was sent to me for review.


  • Nice color selection (thought I would like a brown in place of one of the greys)
  • Color layer well
  • Smooth
  • not chalky
  • Good quality small waterbrush included
  • Price $25
  • Good lightfastness for pastel shades


  • I wish there was a brown in place of one of the greys and a cleaner warm green instead of the drab kakhi green.

Bottom line: I prefer this pastel set to the other pastel watercolors I own. They lay down well, layer and are not chalky. I wouldn’t recommend it as a stand-alone set but it is a great addition to other traditional watercolors.

I will have a tutorial for the macarons next week! Happy crafting!

How About Some Oil Pastels?

Hi friends! I have a Two-fer today! I have a comparison of the oil pastels brands I use and recommend and also a painting of a bunny using watercolor as the background and oil pastel over top.

Let’s start with the bunny demo:

Supplies (Affiliate links used)

Now on to the Oil Pastel Comparison:

Read more about it!

The firmest oil pastels I use, and also the most budget-friendly, are the Pentel Arts set of 50. ***Some viewers told me that they reformulated these pastels and now have a very strong odor. You can get a set of 50 for $7.04 on blick or slightly more on Amazon and it’s a great start on your oil pastel journey. I even use them to block in areas or add detail at the end as they are firmer. Even tho they are harder than the other brands I mention they are very pigmented. These are great in sketchbooks as they don’t transfer much to the opposite page. The downside is that they are not lightfast so use them only in sketchbooks and for experiments if you are concerned about fading.

Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels: Mungyo makes many pastels for other companies including the Master’s touch at Hobby Lobby so if you wait for a 50% off sale you will pay the normal Mungyo price on Amazon. Mungyo makes a regular and a soft and I purchased the soft. They are really nice for learning and are a bit more lightfast than the Pentels so your work will not fade as quickly in the light. They are lovely to work with. Expect to pay between $20-$30 for a 48 piece set, they also offer a 72 wood box set

Paul Rubens Oil Pastels: this 48 set is a great option for the budget-conscious artist who also cares about lightfastness. Every stick has pigment info and a lightfast rating. These are soft and very nice to work with. They have also come out with a pastel color set an iridescent set and 6 pack of white pastels. These would be my top pick for budget and quality

The softest pastels I have are also the most lightfast and you can buy individual sticks but they come at a cost. The Sennelier oil pastels are spendy but awesome. They also have larger sticks if you want to work big. These are lipstick soft and so pigmented. They are truly a luxury art supply.

I also showed the eye-pencil like Dramasticks. I did not have a lot of luck with these but if you think they may be right for you you can see them here. They might be discontinued tho. Jane Davenport also has Power Pastels but they are more like a wax crayon than an oil pastel so I did not include them in this comparison. I do like the power pastels but I have not used them much, I think I will, stay tuned! They are a good price on Amazon right now.

Last but not least are the Winsor & Newton Oil Bar, these are paint in a stick, they dry just like oil paint, unlike oil pastels which never truly dry to a durable finish. I think these might be discontinued but the Shiva brand is available.

Wow, I think that was a lot of info but hopefully it is helpful if you are interested in oil pastels! If you are interested in soft pastels (the kind of pastels that feel chalky) I have my Soft Pastels For Beginners class on sale for 50% off this month by using the coupon code APRILSHOWERS or clicking the special discount link here. I am in a pastel mood lately! Happy crafting!

Don’t Get Too Excited, These Markers Are Sold Out (Arrtx Oros Alcohol Brush Marker Review)

Hi friends, these markers were released yesterday and already the assorted 80 set is sold out although you can still order them and take advantage of the $7 off coupon through next Monday (March 1st) I believe. These markers were sent to me for free to review from Arrtx a few weeks ago and always you have my honest assessment on the quality and how they preform. Affiliate links are used in this post. Check out the video for a look at the markers and a demo and below I will have a breakdown of these markers.

Overview: The new Arrtx Oros alcohol markers have the same color selection and marker body (except they are grey rather than white) as the Arrtx Alp markers, but instead of a bullet/chisel nib they have a brush/chisel nib. Currently they are offering the 80a assorted set and the 36 skin tone set. Each set comes with gridded marker stands that will display your markers and keep them in order as well as a carry bag. Currently, they are available in the 80a assorted color range and the 36 skin tone range but they will eventually come out with all of the colors in the Arrtx Apl Range in the Oros format. My contact at Arrtx says they will either offer open stock markers or replacement nibs/ink refills in the future!

Want more info on the Alp Markers? Here is my review of the 80a set with lots of color blend combos and Here is my review on the 36 skin and 24 grey set. Here is my overview of all the Alp sets and their configurations. *Arrtx Alp markers feature bullet/chisel nibs as opposed to the new Oros which have brush/chisel nibs.


  • Price (around $1 per marker)
  • Nice color selection (My contact said they are planning to offer another skintone selection with darker colors in the future too)
  • Good ink flow
  • Blends well with little effort
  • Includes sturdy, reusable storage and display
  • Includes swatch sheet
  • Colors will appear lighter on this paper than other paper I have, it responds in tone like their marker pad which is very affordable, your colors will look lighter on it so if you like a pastel aesthetic give it a try.
  • Reversible nibs (if a brush nib starts to fray, pull it out and reinsert it backwards)
  • High-quality matte plastic marker body. Comfortable to hold and non-roll
  • I found the caps easy to remove and replace.


  • Color chips on caps are not accurate, you should swatch on the paper you usually use
  • The bag for the 80 set is really tight and hard to access the markers when the grid is in there. I wish they had the extended zipper on the big case like they did for the small one to make it easy to access
  • Fiber nibs
  • Markers are juicy and can release droplets of ink when uncapped so do not open over your work (brush nib)

Bottom line: I like these markers and I think they are a good value. They feel like a quality product when you are using them. The 80 set is a good all-around selection for everyday use. The 80 colors set follows the Shinhan and Art-n-Fly color system so you can get refill inks and nibs there if needed. The Skintone set seems to follow the Copic colors system by color name (names are on the swatch so do not throw that paper away) so you can purchase refills that way until Arrtx comes out with their own. If you already have the original Arrtx Alp markers and would prefer a brush nib to a chisel nib you can pull out the chisel end and insert a brush nib. The Altenew nibs will fit (they use the same bodies) and they are a foam rubber nib that I prefer. *Keep in mind the nibs are $2 each and the Oros markers are only about $1 each.

As long as there are markers left unreviewed in this world I shall not rest LOL! Happy crafting!

Parkoo Review! (Yep, more cheap alcohol markers LOL!)

Hi friends! There is a staggering amount of affordable alcohol markers now, these even make Sharpies look expensive!

Today I am testing out the new set of 80 dual tipped Parkoo markers and I’ll share a rainbow blend tutorial as well. Even if you are not in the market for markers it’s fun to learn abouty new ones I think!

These Parkoo Dual tipped alcohol markers are available from Amazon in an 80 pack with reusable storage case. *This product was sent to me for review from Parkoo and Amazon affiliate links are used at no additional cost to you.

Product details: This is a set of 80 dual-tipped art markers featuring alcohol ink and bullet/fine and Chisel/broad nibs in a clear storage box similar to an ArtBin marker box.


  • Price: About 40 cents a marker currently
  • Great selection of colors, one of the best ranges for an 80 color set I have seen including skin tones and pastels.
  • No Duplicate or same-y colors.
  • Sturdy reusable clear plastic storage box with a removable divider (handy if you wanted to build a marker rack for keeping your markers in order.
  • Inks blend well and are on the Shinhan/Art-in-Fly refill range in case you wanted to purchase refills and I think the Arteza replacement nibs would fit these as well (Disclaimer, these are not sold as refillable but it can be done)
  • Also comes with an opaque silver and gold marker that appears to be waterbased (no smell)
  • Comes with a hex format hand color swatch chart


  • Does not come with a clear blender marker
  • My only complaint with the range of colors is that I would rather have a couple more warm and cool greys instead of the blue-greys and green greys but that is a personal preference.
  • Caps do not match ink color exactly-must swatch

Bottom line: I think this is one of the best color ranges I have seen in a budget set of 80 markers. They blend well despite the fact they do not have brush tips. I love the reusable storage and range of colors. If you are not set on brush tips these are a great choice.

I hope you enjoyed this, happy crafting!

So, You think You Want Alcohol Markers? Join me for this live chat!

Hi friends! It’s that time of year when all my friends with teens call me up and say “My kid want’s Copic Markers for Christmas and they are so freaking expensive, what do I buy!?!” Folks, I get it. Copics are pricey and depending on the artist they might not be the best choice especially if your budget can only afford a small pack. I’m talking the choice between a 6 pack of Copics and a 60 pack of Ohuhus. Maybe someone already has an extensive Copic collection and wants a few specific colors, in that case go for Copics but if someone is just starting out and wants a collection to get started there are other option that a probably a better fit. Don’t fear friends, I will share my pics that will keep your wallet and your teen happy. This will also be a valuable resource for anyone wanting some alcohol based markers. I am premiering this video at 12:15pm Eastern Time today and I will be in the chat for the hour long presentation if you have any questions. Or if you just want to geek out over markers you are welcome! We are gonna have a good time! You will need to watch over on the YouTube watch page at 12:15pm ET today to chat live tho. The more the merrier!

Here is a list of the markers I am reviewing in order of appearance. I will share a spreadsheet soon! A * indicates my top recommendations (quality/value) but all of the markers shown are good and I really could hand out more stars but I wanted to simplify a bit, it just depends on what you want, budget and availability when purchasing. Remember that all of these markers are alcohol based and will work well with each other (I mix brands all the time!) so if a brand offers open stock you can always purchase some singles from several brands before committing to a set, or add a shade or two if the set you have is lacking in some areas.

Alcohol Brush Markers

Specialty/Novelty Markers

Chisel/Bullet Tip Versions (al the markers listed below are very similar in quality and usability)

Here is a scan of my chicken scratch spreadsheet I used in the video. I am working on typing up a real spreadsheet with links to reviews but this will have to do for now LOL!

Keepin’ it real friends…

A couple of things… I refer to average prices people typically pay online, not MSRP so if you are going into a big box art store like Michaels, Joann or Hobby Lobby you will want to bring a coupon as their regular prices are outrageous if they even have the sets you want. Also, I have reviews of most of these markers on my blog (use the search box in the upper right hand corner) and YouTube channel if you want to do more research. Open stock means you can buy markers one at a time. Affiliate links are used at no cost to you. Happy crafting!

Artsy 24 Watercolor Review: Good Paint but use with Caution!

Hi friends! Before we get into this review of the Artsy set of 24 watercolors I want to let you know of a discrepancy between the pigment info available for this set on Amazon and the Safe, non-toxic, conforms to safety certificates: U.S. ASTM D-4236 & EU EN71 also on Amazon. The pigment info on a photo in the amazon listing claims 2 of the colors (Cadmium Red and Cadmium yellow medium) contain cadmium. Cadmium paints are safe to use however you do not want to spray apply them or eat, drink (or smoke) while painting or until you have washed your hands. Also make sure your pets can’t get to your paint water. Honestly, I am doubtful that these paints have real cadmium for 2 reasons, 1 the price (cadmium paints cost much more than synthetic version) and 2 the opacity. These “cadmiums” are quite transparent and real cadmium are rather opaque. And a 3rd reason, for a paint the be certified non toxic by ASTM it has to undergo independent testing and the packaging must disclose any toxic chemicals. I didn’t see the photo of the swatch before I filmed my review and there was no pigment info on the swatch card in my set or on the pan wrappers. Since that swatch with pigment info is on Amazon I wanted to point it out so that you will have all the info you may need and if you buy this set you can take precautions when using it. The only change I would make to my review would be not recommending it for children just to be on the safe side. Ironically the “cobalt blue” is not cobalt. It is ultramarine and white as I suspected. All of this to say, don’t eat your paint.

Today I am reviewing the inexpensive, 24 half pan set of Artsy watercolors. This set features individually wrapped half pans of paint in a beautiful teal reusable tin tray. Empty tins can cost as much as this set so I was intrigued at how good this set could be, at least I’d have a nice tin regardless of the paint! This set is packaged with a soft polishing cloth similar to the Paul Rubens set and also comes with a water brush. It is packaged in a sturdy chipboard box adding to the luxurious feel. Last year I reviewed their fan and accordion watercolor sets and liked them very much.

Pros of Artsy 24 half pan set

  • Price Reusable tin
  • Includes waterbrush
  • Strong bright colors
  • Lifts fine
  • Glazes well
  • Mixes well (except for black which produced a weird chalky residue when mixing)
  • Flow is OK


  • One of the browns is weak
  • They market this as “master level” which implies it is professional quality but without pigment info or lightfast info it is not a reliable claim. *Edited, there is a photo of a swatch with pigment and lightfast info but I am not convinced of some of the pigments and they have + signs for lightfast but no explanation of how many + mean what. They all list++ or +++ and in ASTM 1 star is excellent and 3 stars is fugitive so I am not sure what scale they are using as the 3 star colors they show appear to be ones that would be more lightfast. Plus a professional set of 24 half pans would run between $110-$250 and this set is only around $20. I’m not saying the paints are bad, I just find the pigment info dubious.

Bottom line: Yes I do recommend these paints as a starter set or a travel/sketching set. They are good for the price but with any inexpensive paint set from China you have to take the claims with a grain of slat. They behaved very nicely and they would not hinder the any budding watercolorist who want to learn or an experienced artist who wants an inexpensive set for practice. You also have a great reusable tin! Just be aware of the potential cadmium pigments and enjoy your paint. Happy crafting!

Let’s look at all the Arrtx alcohol marker sets and compare them!

Hi freinds!

I have a lot of info to share in the video and blog post below. Have a look if you are considering buying new markers or if you just like learning about products:)

It occurred to me after recording this that these markers would be ideal for adult coloring since the bullet tip it very small and the ink flows slower than other brands I’ve tried. Please read the review below for more info and resources I mentioned in the video!

Arrtx has outdone themselves releasing a new line of alcohol-based markers this year under the name Alp. You can see the variety of markers they have here. Some of the newer colors sets are not showing up on their store page so check here for the other sets. The Arrtx Alp markers have a slimmer rounded triangular barrel made of white matte plastic with color chips on each end. The Arrtx name is printed in black on the marker and both end caps are labeled with a color number. You can see the color name and number on a hand color swatch that comes in the box. The box is designed to be permanent storage/display. The 90 color set has a plastic grid in the bottom of the box to keep the markers in the order you like while the other boxes have a cardboard grid that can bend if you are not careful. The 80 color set and skin tone set also had a metal clasp on the front but they have replaced that closer with a magnet of the other sets, an improvement I think as the clasp would get in the way when setting the box up for display.

The markers have a fine bullet tip and a standard chisel tip. The bullet tip is smaller and harder than the other markers I have used. I find the ink flow to be a bit slower in the Alp marker, that is not good or bad, just an observation. I also find many of the pastel-colored markers have color chips that are much darker so be sure to make a swatch. I beleive that there are 200 unique colors in the line of Arrtx Alp Markers. You can get all of the colors if you buy the 80a, 90b and 36 skin tone sets. If you bought those sets the only duplicates you would get would be black and clear blenders. This would also include the 4 fluorescent colors, not in the color family sets.

The prices range from about 60 cents a marker in the larger assorted packs to about 96 cents a marker in the color family packs so it is more affordable buying the big sets if you like them as all of the colors in the color family sets are in the 2 big sets. If you are unsure I would recommend starting with the skin tone set as none of those colors are duplicated in any other sets and then you can decide if you wanted to pick up the smaller sets as your budget allows or save up for the big sets. These markers are more expensive per marker than the original Arrtx markers or similar grade markers that run on the same color numbering system with the exception of Concept or ShinHan Touch. Here is a color chart of the Shinhan touch markers. I recommend printing one out to color by hand if you get these. *You may notice many maker lines use these inks, the color names and names match but you may find little discrepancies between brands. The alp markers appear lighter and I wonder if it might be the harder nibs restricting flow so the ink appears lighter. I had no issues blending these markers. You can refills for the markers here and they are less expensive than copic. ***The skin tone set appears to run on Copic comparable colors if you go by the name of the color they are a perfect match for Copics of the same name.

More Arrtx reviews:

Wow, that was a lot of info but I think it’s important to lay it all out there because everyone has different needs, preferences and budgets and not all markers will appeal to everyone. We are certainly spoilt for choice in the marker department these days! FYI this post contains Amazon affiliate links. Happy crafting!

Are these new markers worth it?

Hi friends! Today I have a review of the new Spectrum Noir Tri-Blend alcohol based markers.

There are 24 colors in the range currently. I asked my contact at Spectrum Noir if they planned to expand the range and they said that they didn’t have plans to expand but they have an auto-ship program on Home Shopping Network (where they debut many of their products) so they may add new colors that way. I guess seeing how many people sign up for an auto ship can let them know if there is interest in creating more colors. I checked on the Crafter’s Companion website (they are the parent company) and they are selling the 24 marker set for $119.95 or 3 marker packs for $14.95. These are the same colors but arranged differently. The markers are available at Simon Says Stamp individually for $4.99 or in the set of 24 for $119.99 and they ship worldwide.

I had a mixed bag of emotions when reviewing these markers. At first I was over the moon! The brush tips are the high quality flexible kind (not the fragile kind you normally find on inexpensive markers) and then I found out the price was $5 each (which is cheap considering just 3 high quality replacement nibs for my copics is $7) and being familiar with the old bullet tip Triblends I thought these would be a sure winner. What went wrong? For some reason they changed some of the colors making large jumps between tones. I think they did this to get an overall larger color range but by doing that you lose a lot of the blending ability. There is no perfect marker for everyone and I’d give these 7 out of 10 stars. You can see the range of markers and their blending below.

I am missing the color Jade Green from this swatch as I don’t have it. You can see the individual colors in each marker in stripes below the rectangle. For best results when blending with alcohol markers you want shades that are fairly close to one another. If they are too far extreme you will get hard lines and streaks.

As with any supply they have benefits and drawbacks, lets explore!


  • *Price (3 colors in one family for $5)
  • Convenience (fewer markers to carry)
  • Fits in the Spectrum Noir color collection so if you have other SN markers they will work well together and if you have refill inks you could revive them (although they are not marketed as refillable)
  • High-quality brush nibs, very similar to Copic
  • Caps are easy to remove for arthritic hands (Be careful replacing them do you don’t damage the tip on the edges.)
  • Despite the length of the markers they are very comfortable to hold (they are one of the larger markers around tho)


  • There are some pretty big jumps between colors making for difficult blends especially with the blues pinks and purples, alternately there were a couple of markers with tones too close together
  • Some of the colors don’t seem to match the original Spectrum Noir Markers exactly
  • Since you essentially have 3 markers in one barrel there is not a lot of room for ink so these markers are likely to run out sooner than traditional markers.
This is another blend test I did with the markers. I really struggled to create a seamless blend.

Bottom Line: The brush nibs on these are perfect, they are so much fun to color with that it’s a shame that some of the color choices in a marker are too far apart to create a smooth blend. I think they were probably trying to get more variety in a limited amount of markers but I worry that beginners might get frustrated and think it is their fault the blends are not smooth. I wish they used the color pics from the original first 24 tri-blends because those tones blended beautifully and it really would be effortless if they were in the brush form. That said for coloring the images I showed they worked very well. Smaller areas will be fairly easy to blend and since these are marketed to stampers it will probably be fine as they are working in smaller areas. I think the ink would run out too fast for marker artists rendering full page artwork. I recommend trying a few colors that don’t have big jumps in color number (zoom in on the package photo and look at the end of the marker with the color codes, chose ones where the colors are only a step or 2 away from the next color) and see what you think. Also, I think some of the purples and greens are “samey” so you probably don’t need all the colors for a decent variety.

What do you think? Are you going to try these? Do you think i missed the mark in my review? Let me know in the comments and til next time happy crafting!

Portable Painter Micro Review

Today we will have a look at the latest offering from The Portable Painter, the Portable Painter Micro!

The original portable painter is my favorite travel palette. I love everything about it and it accompanies me on all of my outdoor painting adventures. The main reason I love it is because there are two water buckets that attach to the sides making legs for my palette that can keep my paint up high off a sandy beach, or can rest on the arm of an Adirondack chair or rest on my leg as I paint from a Kayak or canoe. You can see the original in the photo below.

This is the original I recommend 100% The Micro is much smaller and comes with 6 half pans that you can fill with the paint of your choosing. They also make packs of extra half and full pans so you can have 1 full pan and 4 half pans or 2 full pans and two half pans is it works out better than having the original 6 for you. The extras are also handy if you want to swap out pans and rearrange them. All other half and full pans I tried from other manufactures fit in the micro palette so purchasing the extras from a portable painter aren’t necessary and that also means that if you have a collection of pans already you can put them in the micro as you like. No need to fill more pans, nice! The palette can be arranged for left or right-hand use. Watch the video to see more!

For me holding the palette with water in it will take some getting used to, I prefer it to sit on a table and it takes so little space it would be great for painting in crowded cafes or classes (on small projects.) I found as I used it more I preferred to use it with a waterbrush and use the water area as a place to mic or clean my waterbrush, I think putting a small sponge in that section would work better (with a waterbrush) then filling it with water. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!