Winsor & Newton Promarker Watercolour Review

Hi friends! I have enjoyed the Winsor & Newton watercolor markers since they came out 6 years ago. I only used them when I had important watercolor marker work to do because they were a bit precious and pricey and they were the only lightfast watercolor marker I had. Then about a year or 2 ago I was seeing them pop up on amazon cheap and I worried that they were going to be discontinued. Lucky for us they were not but they did rebrand and repackage them under the Promarker line, A range Winsor & Newton acquired from Letraset a few years ago. So I wanted to know how the new version compared to my beloved older ones. You can see how they rate in todays video!


  • Lightfast
  • Pigment info included
  • Rewets easily on watercolor paper, Bristol and mixed media paper
  • Clean saturated color


  • Not refillable as sold (although you can yank the fine nib off and refill the inner felt if you are so inclined, what have you got to lose?)
  • You can easily damage the nib if you are not careful replacing the cap
  • Price $4-$6 per marker *I think it’s justified for a lightfast product but refills would be nice.

Bottom Line: I like the new version as well as the old one. They are a lot of fun to use because you can sketch, add water and have a painting. I think it’s worth mentioning that the old version was made in France and the new ones are made in China. I found the quality to be the same but I know many viewers do not wish to buy products made in China and I personally wonder what is going on with a legacy art supply company when they move production. For what’s it worth I still like them a lot. If they are in your budget and you want a lightfast watercolor marker they are a great choice! Happy crafting!

Some of these sets are just like the other…

Hi friends! I totally have that Sesame Street song going through my head now LOL! Have you ever been tempted by the latest watercolor palette on Amazon? Have you ever bought a palette and realized that it is identical to another paint you own? I have! And today I am going to show you what paints I think are exactly the same as others.

*I am not throwing shade at any of these companies, nor are they doing anything wrong. In the budget art supply market company’s private label products as it is cheaper than having their own factories, staff and R&D. These factories make the paint according to the color palette requested and label it for the brand just like store-brand cereal in grocery stores. It is helpful to know what brands are what tho because you might pay 3x more for the same paint depending on who is selling it.

** These are my opinions, I do not work for any of these companies or have any inside information. I have just extensively compared these paints and this is what I think.

Please note: Often companies switch factories of factories change their recipes if ingredients become scarce or too expensive so the paint I have may not be what is sold now under these brands. A good idea when shopping on Amazon in particular is the look at the most recent reviews of a products to see if it still matches up. The information I have presented is my opinion and accurate to the products I have on hand.

A Recap of Brands and Alleged Dupes

Mungyo Watercolors: You can get a set of 48 that will contain most of the colors as the 12 sets from the following brands: Prima-Watercolor confections line, American Crafts-Jane Davenport sets, American Crafts: Paper Fashion, and Sargent Art. *Many Sargent Art Products seems to be made by Mungyo **For what it’s worth I like this paint, it does not layer well because it is a bit opaque and tends to lift but it has wonderful flow and movement.

Pheonix 24 round cake watercolor is allegedly the same as the round cake sets from Arteza and Lukas. If you live near an Ocean State Job Lot these sets are $5 and I recommend them for PreK-8 projects.

Pheonix Halfpan sets are allegedly the same as Winsor & Newton Cotman half pans and (I think) the Miya Rombus palette. I like all of these sets!

Sonnet Studio is allegedly the same as Paul Rubens Student full pan set (These are very vibrant and transparent, much like White Nights but contains some fugitive colors, good paint for the price tho and I appreciate the full pans)

Superior makes a lot of cheap, good quality Watercolors such as: Art Whale 48 half pan set, Artsy, Novelty fan sets, Altenew, and Doodlehog 36. Possibly Etcher and Dugat watercolor but I do not own them so can’t say for certain. I enjoy these sets too for the 48 set contains a lot of colors I’ll probably never use making the smaller sets a better choice in my opinion.

Masters touch and Doodlehog 48 are the same. I do not like these as much as the others I have listed here and they smell bad.

Palettes that seem unique:

If you know of any dupes that I missed please let me know! Again I want to reiterate that this is my opinion, I do not work for any of these companies. This info is presented in good faith based on my research and painting tests and experiments. I have no ill will to any of the above brands, I just want to help my viewers find the paint to meet their needs, preferences and budget. Happy crafting!

Markart/Nyoni Colored Pencil Review

Hi friends! I bet you were worried that I didn’t have a budget art supply review for you this week (haha) but have no fear, today we are looking at the Nyoni colored pencils that are sold under the Markart trade name. These are a Chinese made pencil, but a fairly good one and the price is pretty nice here in America. Watch the video for the full review. PS I don’t take points off for spelling…I mean, you’ve read my blog, that would be the pot calling the kettle black!

These pencils don’t claim to be Holbein dupes but that’s what they remind me of! Today we are going to look at Nyoni pencils sold in America under the name MarkArt. They are available in sets of 48, 72 and 120. I bought the 72 set as it was the best value at the time. *Affiliate links used

One thing that was very striking was the page of pastels and the decent white in this set. They really felt like Holbein colored pencils but I will admit that Holbein colored pencils are more pigmented and the pastels are more rich and opaque on black and they ought to be for what they cost! See Holbein pencils here. They also remind me of the Arteza set I have from 2019, I think they have changed factories since then so I am hesitant to recommend them now because I’m not sure what you will get. also the Artezas have moved out of the budget realm in price. If you have the old Artezas tho this set of 72 mark art will expand the pastel range of the pencils and you won’t have many duplicates so that is nice. I honestly think they are the same pencil but different colors.


  • Price (about 35 cents a pencil)
  • Strong, thick lead
  • Mostly water resistant
  • Very well pigmented for a budget set
  • The pastels are unusual in a budget set and very nice
  • Compatible with solvent like OMS


  • No open stock
  • Sharp points can crumble under pressure
  • This is a firm pencil so it may not be suitable with artists with arthritis and other strength issues.

Bottom line: I think these Markart pencils are an excellent quality budget pencil and if you are considering Holbeins or Arteza and the price has put you off I totally recommend you try these. I think them much better than the Deli pencils and they are the same price for the 72 set. I prefer a softer pencil myself so these are not going to be a go to pencil for me but I’m glad I have them to go with my limited selection of Holbeins and Artezas. They might be just the thing for you.

Happy crafting!

Art Whale Watercolor Review

Hi friends! Call it a watercolor obsession, or a momentary lapse of reason, or the fine line between a hobby and a mental disorder but I have purchased not one, but two more sets of budget watercolors to review. I couldn’t help myself when I spotted the Art Whale brand of watercolor pop up on amazon. I knew they were likely a company having their paint made by another company through private labeling but the tubes looked really nice, they were in 15ml metal tubes (student grade usually have 5, 7 or 12ml tubes made of plastic) and the tubes had pigment info on them. Curiosity (and a $5 off coupon) got the best of me and I ordered a set. Check out my full review in the video below.

I waited to post this review on my blog because the paint sold out a few hours after my video went live on YouTube. You can now order the 24 set of Art Whale Tubes again if you want them. BTW I’ll have a tutorial of that bird from the video on YouTube tomorrow:)

Here is a summary of my review of the 24 set of Art Whale Tubes :


  • Price
  • Pigment info disclosed on tubes and swatch (Pigments all check out a having good to excellent lightfast reputations)
  • Large 15ml tubes
  • Saturated strong color
  • Dries down well in palette without cracking
  • Rewets well after dried in palette
  • Colors mix well
  • Glazing is possible.
  • Easy to handle, you will not have to compensate for any properties with this paint
  • Sturdy storage box


  • Palette is not included
  • I think there may be an error in the pigment notations for madder lake and olive green
  • All browns except light red are a mix. they performed fine but they are all PR101 based with a black added.
  • The cerulean blue was very stiff and hard to squeese out of the tube but it painted out fine.

Bottom Line: These are a great buy if you can snag them for under $40. You can’t go wrong with this much paint of this quality. The pigments are tried and true and going by the pigments disclosed I think they actually downplay, or under-promise, their lightfastness. That ultramarine blue is the best I’ve seen in a student/budget range. I’ve never heard of this brand “art whale” before but I am excited to see what else they come out with!

And now on to the Art Whale half pan set of 48…

After trying the tubes I was really curious about the pans and they went on sale for $10 off so I snapped up a set and the findings on this set was intersting…

So here’s the deal, I think (I am 99.999999% sure but will say allegedly throughout this post so I don’t get in trouble) these paints are made by the paint company Superior which makes the better student grade Chinese paints on the market and many companies have them private label products for them. These are NOT Paul Rubens although the packaging is similar. Paul Rubens is artist quality, more pigmented, and uses more single pigments and a better variety in sets. I highly recommend Paul Rubens watercolors and they are a great price for the quality. They have also been running specials so if you want a great paint go for the Paul Rubens professional line. (I do not recommend the Raul Rubens student grade tubes tho)

Anyway, back to the Art Whale half pans. I think they are great for the price however the set contains some colors that aren’t as useful as smaller sets of the same paint under different brand names. they seem to have a smaller variety of pigments they use and then mix them for more colors. I prefer having pure colors and mix them myself.

Here are the paints I think are the exact same paint:

  • Best Value for Money and quality: Doodlehog 36 set (but not the 48 set, that paint is the same as masters touch, not as nice)
  • Artsy 24 set and Here is the review
  • Altenew 24 set *Here is the review
  • I suspect the Etchr and Dugat watercolor are also made by Superior but I do not have them so I can’t say for sure. Superior also makes all the novelty fan and folding watercolor sets like these. with the really thin paints so if you like that quality (which honestly, I do for the most part) you will also like the half pan sets.

Hopefully this will help you out. I just wanted to help you avoid buying duplicates but also let you know there are sets with more colors of the quality of paint you may enjoy as well. Most of these private labels paints do not disclose pigment info but I did see cadmium yellow on the art whale set and disclosed on the Artsy set on amazon so I would not recommend any of these sets for young children.

Phew, that was a lot to get through! I have got to get my watercolor palette obsession under control! Happy crafting!

How I sketch on the down-low & 40% off classes!

Hi friends! This week we went to Boothbay Harbor and took a whale watch and puffin cruise and while the fog obscured any whales that might be in the area we did get to see puffins.

I brought my incognito sketching supplies but didn’t get a chance to use them but I though it would be fun to share what I bring when I want to sketch small and quick and demo how I’d go about it. Hopefully this video gives you the inspiration to try it too!

I used a portable painter micro palette (affiliate link) that comes with 6 half pans but you can get extra full and half pans for it if you want to swap colors out or you could use a bit of double-sided tape to stick pans you have in. For that matter you can stick pans in any little tin or container you have like an Altoids container, if you spray paint the inside of the tin’s lid white you will even have a nifty mixing area and it’s practically free! I like the have some ultramarine blue in one end of a full pan so I can create large washes because I live in Maine and it is an essential color in your landscape. The other colors I have in this palette are Burnt Sienna, Quin Rose, Cobalt Turquoise and Hansa Yellow, this is not the perfect mixing palette but it works well for quick Plein air sketches in my neck of the woods. You should pick colors that are best for you. I sketched in a Stillman & Birn 3.5″x5″ Beta series mixed media sketchbook. I also brought a waterproof black pen, mechanical pencil, white gel pen, rag and a waterbrush. The weird looking bottle is a kool-air flavor enhancer bottle I washed out and filled with water and I can use it to refill my brush with it 3-4 times. Below you can see how big the supplies are when laid out:

And here is the palette and sketchbook open (and a travel sketch from a couple years ago LOL!)

So, are you ready to try some travel sketching?

But wait! Before you go I want to let you know that I am having a 40% off sale on all classes!

Use coupon code FUN40 to say 40% on any class in my Teachable school! Click “add coupon” on the checkout page and then type in FUN40 in the coupon spot to receive your discount. My stand alone classes (not Critique Club which is a monthly membership) have lifetime access so you can buy now and paint later if you want to take advantage of the sale but you don’t have time to do the class right now. Offer good through 8/31/21

Thank you for your support and until next time happy crafting!

Rosa Gallery Watercolor Review

Hi friends, Today we are going to take a look at a small set of watercolors that really pack a punch, The Rosa Gallery Watercolors. I am reviewing the 12 color set which sold out shortly after posting my review to YouTube yesterday. They have also increased the price if you want to preorder it so I recommend you go for the 24 set in the cardbard box if you want the best value and don’t need a tin, or, go for some of their tinned sets if you want one. They are still a fantastic value. The 24 cardboard box set will have all of the colors in the 12 set plus 12 others. I purchased this set myself and was not paid to do this review. Affiliate links are used in this post.

As promised in the video I have photographs of the charts. Creating a mixing chart is a great way to see the possibilities of colors in a set when mixed with another color in the set. To create more variety (otherwise the bottom half of the card would be identical to the top half) I use more of the color from the top row in each column. In other words, look at the color on the top of a column and all of the colors under that will have a mix where the top color is more dominant.

Here is the chart using a split primary mixing technique. This 12 color set has a warm and cool version of each primary color which is what I recommend to my students (and why I bought this set to test out!)

This is an example of mixing with warm primaries, and of cool primaries. The color mixing stamp is from Waffle Flower.

Below is the swatches with a glaze stripe and the pan wrappers. Sorry for the upside down labels, it’s funny what bothers me and what doesn’t huh. Also, I forgot to make my transparency stripe until after I swatched the yellow so look to the right of each yellow swatch to see the transparency.

And finally some of the granulation examples. I found Ultramarine Blue, Umber and Cadmium red to create the most granulation in mixes. To get granulation you want really wet washes so the pigment can settle out and separate in the standing water. You also want to use smoother paper with a heavy sizing for the most dramatic effect. To avoid granulation simply do controlled washes on dry paper or speed up drying with a hair dryer or heat tool.

Now lets look at the pros and cons of thie paint:


  • Extremely saturated clean and vibrant color
  • Professional Quality
  • Quick to rewet
  • Open stock available *Although they are much more economical in sets per pan
  • Price (much lower than other comparable brands) Even cheaper in Europe!
  • Mixes well
  • Contain real cadmiums which are usually very expensive
  • Pigment info disclosed


  • These are a liquid poured pan that can become sticky in humid environments so probably not the best for travel as an sideways palette could get messy.
  • These can be hard to find in the USA, I jumped on the chance to order a set when they came in stock on Amazon.
  • Most of the sets have Cadmium colors in them so not suitable for children. Also many artists wish to avoid cadmium so I thought I’d list it here as it is a con for some.

Bottom line: You really can’t go wrong with these paints at this price. I know the price changes on Amazon so I’d say these are totally worth a try if they are less than $2 per pan in sets especially if in a tin. I’ll probably get more if I have the opportunity to! You can visit the Rosa Gallery Store on Amazon to see what they have available.

Happy crafting!

How Many Pencils Are Too Many?

Hi friends! I totally realize that I am probably NOT he best person to answer that question but I had the opportunity to review a very hot new product. the Brutfuner set of 520 “oily” colored pencils. I had recently reviewed the Brutfuner square set of 120 which I recommend as probably the best budget colored pencils on the market under $30 so I was thrilled to try the new set. I was sent this set for free from the Andstal Stationary shop and they arrived in perfect condition and very well packaged. You can see my unboxing here. I have heard from other viewers that have ordered from this shop on AliExpress that they are top notch which is always nice to hear as I did not know them before they contacted me as I had purchased my Brutfuner Squares on Amazon. Watch the video for my full review on these.


  • Great variety of colors including pastels, neon and metallics
  • Centered cores, straight barrel, nice build construction (3.3mm lead in 7.5mm body)
  • Sharpens well to a fine point (lead is harder than Prismacolor, it is similar to Arteza and Deli/Markart pencils)
  • Layers well
  • Holds a point well
  • blends with water or OMS
  • Set came well packaged to protect from breakage and package is reusable for storage


  • Lots or near-identical colors
  • The color numbers are difficult to read on the barrel
  • Pencils are inconsistent in laydown, some are rich and pigmented and some are weaker and streaky
  • Price (of 520 set, smaller size sets are reasonable)
  • Difficult to blend

What would be the best use of this set:

  • Classroom-the harder leads will be more resistant to breaks from droppage and the many similar colors mean several people could share this set and not want for a color or have to wait for one.
  • rubber stampers or adult coloring book enthusiasts who need a sharp point and variety of colors for fine details.
  • Studio d├ęcor, it is a pretty set of pencils to display in jars or a rack
  • As a design tool for color picking (the colored barrels can be used as color swatches)
  • photo props
  • as a collectors item as it is the largest set I have ever heard of.

Bottom Line: I can’t say if this set is for you. It’s a lot of money to spend for a budget quality pencil and for that money you can buy a professional quality set that meets your exact specifications that would have replacement colors available. To be totally fair you could purchase a smaller set for a much more reasonable price, like a 48 set for around $15 so it’s not the per pencil price that makes this expensive, just the total set price for the 520. What do you think? Happy crafting!

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!