Watercolours: M Graham Watercolours (review)

M Graham is an American art supply manufacturer that also makes acrylics and oil paints. After hearing other artists raving about their honey-based watercolours on various art forums, I decided I’d buy a few tubes to try for myself. Here is my little collection:

M Graham watercolour Tubes

(Colours purchased: Nickel Azo Yellow, Cadmium Red Light, Quinacridone Rose, Phthalocyanine Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalocyanine Green Yellow Shade and Burnt Sienna; later added Azo Yellow and Quinacridone Rust)

MGraham WC chart

Though I have tried at least a few colours in the majority of brands (will review them as soon as I am able), I think the M Graham watercolours are my favourite. They are strong even when diluted, producing vibrant, rich colour, and stay workable for a long time; even if they dry, you can rewet them and still get the same strong colour without any graininess or without causing damage to the bristles of your brush (which can be a problem with gum-based brands that dry completely and can become brittle). Compared to other brands, their prices are very reasonable; a 15ml tube of M Graham is about the same as a 5ml tube in the equivalent series in the Winsor & Newton range, though as with most brands, colours with expensive pigments such as cadmiums and cobalts are dearer than your average ‘earth’ colours etc. M Graham starts at $11.90 for a series 1 tube and goes up to about $20 for a series 5 tube; oddly, the range does not seem to have a series 4.

One thing that some watercolourists particularly like about M Graham watercolour paints is that they supposedly remain moist permanently. If you put a large quantity into the well of a palette, then it is possible it would never truly dry (especially if you’re in a humid climate). I usually only squeezed out a small dollop at a time and though it didn’t dry as fast as other watercolours, it did eventually become touch dry (you could still squish it slightly if you poked it with your finger). If you’re the sort of person who likes to fill up your own palette and take it out into the field, this probably isn’t the brand for you as if they’re not completely dry, the colours will run and leak.

Here is a small still life painting I did of some fruit from imagination (I was too lazy to actually get up and find some fruit). It also serves to highlight the importance of using good quality, artists’ grade watercolour paper; after only a few layers, this cheap paper started ‘pilling’, meaning I wasn’t able to keep blending and layering as much as I wanted to.

M Graham watercolour fruit still life

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