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!

DIY Watercolor Paint!

Hi friends! A few years ago I made some DIY metal watercolors and acrylics using dollar store pearl eye shadow. It was fun, worked great and was certainly frugal. I recently was sent some pigments from an online handmade watercolor company called Xanadu Art Studio and decided to make some legit handmade watercolors.


This was a fun experiment. Watch the video so see my trials and tribulations and the final outcome!

If I have to be totally honest this is not a project I plan to repeat, it was fun and all but more time-consuming than my paint with eye shadow a few years ago and quite frankly I enjoy painting more than making paint and let’s face it there are many good paints out there already. I thought I’d try it since I had the supplies and it was fun but not something I am going to invest further in.Below I will list some references I mentioned in the video:

So would you try making your own watercolor paint? Let me know in the comments below! If you happened here today looking for Sketchbook Sunday I’m working on it but I haven’t made it down to my art desk yet, the video will be up on YouTube this evening and I’ll post it on my blog tomorrow (I intended to blog this last night but I zonked out before 10pm!) Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

GIVEAWAY! Color It Refillable Real Brush Watercolor Markers!

8/29/18 Giveaway is closed, here are the 3 lucky winners!

Virginia Staib from Hawaii, Rachel from Alaska and Madelyn Wolfin from New York

All the winners have been contacted by email and I replied to their comments below in case there are multiple people with the same name from the same state. Thanks for playing everyone, I can’t believe how many people signed up!


Today I am reviewing the new refillable Color It watercolor brush markers and refills. A set contains 24 watercolor brush markers in a reusable zippered case for $29.99 and refill inks are available for $5.99 per color.  I will be giving a set of these markers away to 3 lucky readers. To enter the prize draw leave a comment below telling me what state you are from and what your favorite color is. I will draw 3 winners in one week and amend this post with the winners name and email the winners. This giveaway is open to USA residents.


Color it products can be ordered on Amazon or on the Color It website. Watch the video to see them in action!

Supplies (affiliate links used)

The Review!


  • Affordable
  • Refillable pens
  • Reusable case
  • Colors blend well with each other and water


  • Only 24 colors
  • If you purchase all the refills at once it can be expensive

Color it watercolor pens are the only refillable option for a real brush marker pen that I know of and they are easy to refill. One $5.99 bottle of ink refills a marker 15 times so it is way cheaper than buying 15 markers. I think these markers are as good as any of the other real brush markers I have reviewed. The ink flows smoothly and they feel good in your hands. The tip is slightly larger than the Zig Real brush pen but smaller than Arteza. To be clear I find all of these markers to be comparable but an advantage to Color It because they are refillable and you can buy the refill inks as you need them. The fact that no refills are available for the other brands out there has always bothered me because unlike a felt tip pen the bristles are not going to wear out so you would be tossing away a perfectly good pen. I am so glad these exist. As for there only being 24 colors available I think that’s fine because with watercolor markers you don’t need as many to blend like you do with alcohol pens and you can scribble the marker on a tile and pick up the ink with another pen to mix and it won’t harm the tip like it may with a felt tip pen. If you desire more than 24 colors that these won’t be for you. I love sustainable products and I am so happy to partner with Color it for this giveaway! I love to shout out companies actively try to do right by their customers and the environment.  Be sure to leave a comment if you want to go in the prize drawing, good luck and til next time happy crafting!

How Good Can Under $1 a Tube Watercolor Be? SHINHAN Professional Watercolor Review

Hi friends! Every once in a while you find a “too good to be true” art supple it is actually really good! That’s the case with the set of 30 Shinhan professional watercolors I bought for around $25 on Amazon a couple of months ago.


I painted this donut and leaves with them and they were surprisingly lovely!


But still, these paints are less than $1 a tube making them cheaper than most of the student grad brands I recommend like Cotman, Van Gogh, La Petite Aquarelle and Grumbacher Academy so what’s the deal? Find out in this video review!

So yes they are great, they are a steal for the quality BUT I wouldn’t rate them as god as my other artist quality paints for a couple of reasons:

  1. They are not totally transparent when used at full strength.
  2. A few pigment colors are not lightfast.
  3. The paint can lift easily which is nice for beginners who may wish to fix a mistake but can be problematic if you want to glaze many layers.

I would rate them as a high-end student watercolor through and they are more pigmented than most other student brands. Here are the “Pros” of this line of paint:

  1. Price: The 30 color set is around $25 and the 12 color set is about $14
  2. Color payout-very rich and vibrant colors that dilutes and mixes well.
  3. Many single pigment colors
  4. Pigment numbers are printed on each tube so you know what your paint is made of
  5. Colors dry down well in a palette with no cracking
  6. Dry paint rewets instantly with a wet brush

Shinhan makes a premium high-end watercolor called Shinhan Premium Watercolor which comes in larger tubes and is more expensive: $85.50 for 32 15ml tubes (but still not bad considering the cost of many other paints) and they also have a student grade of watercolors so this so-called “professional” range is in the middle. I think it’s a great buy for someone wanting nice paints to learn, practise or experiment with but you might be disappointed if you are going to use them in many layers plus the lightfastness of a couple of colors is questionable. I was really impressed with these paints for the price and I would love to try their premium range. I hope you found this review helpful and til next time happy crafting!

Hahnemuhle Watercolor Paper Review!

Hi friends! Today I’m reviewing a few cold pressed watercolor papers from Hahnemuhle. I have been hearing about this line of papers from my European viewers for years citing their availability and affordability so I was excited to test them out.

American viewers can find some of these papers on Amazon. These papers are common in Europe in shops and online retailers. Find out more on their official website.

I had a few question on the video on the difference between the Cezanne and Expression paper as they are both #140 CP cotton paper and the only difference I could find was in the texture. The Cezanne is mould made which yields a lovely random natural texture where the expression has a more uniform machine-made texture.

I was really pleased with the cotton papers by Hahnemuhle. The sketchbook and post cards were a bit thin however they still preformed nicely. This brand has other papers too but I was very impressed with the assortment of cold pressed papers they sent. I was sent these papers for free for review purposes but I was not paid to review them, this is not a sponsored post. I hope you found this overview useful. Thank for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!


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