Watercolours: Mijello Mission Gold Watercolours (review)

Mijello are probably most well known for their selection of painting palettes, which includes some airtight ones that can be sealed to keep your paint (even acrylics) workable for several days when not being used. A few years ago they also brought out a watercolour range. Initial impressions on art forums I visit were not particularly positive, but apparently Mijello recently reformulated the line, and since artists seemed to be more impressed with this new formulation, I decided I’d give them a try myself. Not that I NEED more watercolours, but I always like to play with new things…

mission-gold-watercolours

Mission Gold watercolours are sold in individual 15ml tubes or in sets of 7ml or 15ml tubes. They also sell pan sets of 12 or 24 colours, though their proprietary pans are not the same size as regular pans; they are bigger than half pans, but smaller than full pans, so you can’t buy Mission Gold pans to put into, say, your existing Winsor & Newton pan set when you use up one of those colours. Here’s the chart for my set of 24 7ml colours.

mission-gold-watercolour-chart

In general, the Mission Gold watercolours seem as bright and strong as other artist grade watercolours, and most colours have the same hue as the same colour in other brands. However, when I first opened the packet and looked at the tubes, I was disappointed to see that more than half of them were multi-pigment mixtures. Not only that, but many of the colour names were misleading based on their pigment; for example, Viridian is typically made from PG18, but Mijello’s Viridian is PG7, or Phthalo Green. Cerulean Blue (usually PB35) is actually PB15:3, or Phthalo Blue. Many colours which are typically single pigment mixtures in other brands were made from two or even three pigments; Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna, for example, are both three-pigment mixtures in the Mission Gold line, while ‘Cobalt Blue No. 1’ is not real Cobalt Blue at all but is in fact a mixture of Phthalo Blue and Ultramarine Blue. While I understand that pigment substitution occurs to save cost, it makes no sense for colours like the earths to be mixtures considering their normal ‘single’ pigment is not expensive, and regardless of why the pigments were used, the names should indicate that they are ‘hues’ rather than implying they are the real thing. I’ll be putting my chart up in the window for a while to test for lightfastness, but I’m expecting Bright Opera to fade since these bright, almost fluorescent colours are typically fugitive.

Pigment formulation issues aside, Mission Gold watercolours perform like proper watercolours. I squeezed some tube colour into a folding palette and let it set up for a few days, and when I went to use them, they rewet quickly with minimal scrubbing required. They are quite active wet-in-wet, making it easy to achieve soft or interesting blends. I did find that the colours I used in my painting were difficult to lift out, though this may have been due to the surface; I used a textured Strathmore ATC. I’d recommend being much more careful painting around your intended highlights than I was, or at least reserving them with masking fluid (especially given how many of the blues and greens contain staining phthalo pigments). In the end, I added a tiny dash of gouache to restore the highlights on my painting.

It’s a bit hard to work out where they sit in terms of price since I buy most of my art supplies either locally or from the UK, Mission Gold watercolours only seem to be sold through US art supply retailers, or on eBay, which is where I bought my set from (Amazon also sells them but after my previous experiences ordering through Amazon, I wouldn’t go near them again with a ten foot pole). This, from the outset, means that unless you live in America or Korea, it’s probably not worth the expense to have these shipped to you when you can buy a vast array of other watercolour brands from any local store or your favourite art supply website. When purchased individually, the 15ml tubes of Mission Gold start at about $10 USD for colours like white or grey but climb to $18 or $19 USD for cobalts and cadmiums; on average, this puts them in the mid-to-high price range compared to brands like Daniel Smith, Schmincke, Daler Rowney or MaimeriBlu, and in my view, all of those other brands are better anyway.

Here’s my sample painting done with the Mission Gold watercolours, based on a photo on WetCanvas’s Reference Image Library by Tammy Marie.

mission-gold-watercolours-pumpkin-painting

Though these watercolours are perfectly usable, I don’t feel like I can recommend them when you can get better paints from most local stores or websites for a lower price. Though you can check the pigment formulation to be sure what you’re getting before buying, the somewhat misleading colour names does detract from their appeal, and the high number of unnecessary multi-pigment mixes and questionable pigments doesn’t help. If you live somewhere they are available cheaply, it might be worth seeing if you can buy a tube of your favourite colour in the Mission Gold line, but otherwise you’re better off sticking with whatever you’re already using.

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