Saturday, December 01, 2012

W&N: the best brand of watercolour paint for artists

Winsor & Newton Artists' Water Colour have been voted the best artist-quality watercolour paints in two separate polls.

However there is a back story!

The Two Polls

My original November Making A Mark Poll (POLL: Which are the best artist-quality watercolour paints?) in the side column ran into problems very quickly.  It started to lose votes and was horrible to watch so I moved it to the bottom of the column

I then set up a second Poll. This was the blog post POLL #2: Best professional watercolour paints.  This meant moving very fast to set up the website to host the second poll which I thought I had all month to set up!  This is it Which is the best brand of watercolour paint for artists? - and these are the links to the two polls

Then the first Poll recovered so I moved it back up and let the second poll continue as well.  The intention is that the latter will run all year round.

The Two Answers

What's interesting is that the two polls came up with the same answers but not the same numbers!

So we're going to have two charts and I'm going to ponder on what's going on.  Particularly since the outcome diverged from the initial indications which is odd as that doesn't often happen.

First Poll

The first is the original poll - which started to acquire a lot of votes for Winsor & Newton partway through the month - causing a major divergence from the original indications.  I do hope that enthusiasm for the brand wasn't generating repeat votes from the same people.......

Blog Poll: Number of respondents: 103
This first chart indicates that the top three brands of watercolour paint are:
  1. Winsor and Newton Artists Watercolour Paints (42%)
  2. Schminke Horadam Aquarell (14%)
  3. Daniel Smith Watercolour Paints (12%)
Second Poll

The second is the poll on the new website - which tends to get more American visitors.  It is however far more representative of the initial indications on the Blog Poll with Winsor and Newton and Daniel Smith being much more evenly matched.

This chart indicates that the top three brands of watercolour paint are:
  1. Winsor and Newton Artists Watercolour Paints (25%)
  2. Daniel Smith Watercolour Paints (23.1%)
  3. Schminke Horadam Aquarell (13.5)
Blog Poll: Number of respondents: 52
Other watercolour paints which proved popular were:
I also ran another poll alongside and it's very apparent that while watercolour artists may have favourite brands they also like trying different brands.  In both polls, a very high percentage of artists had tried more than three brands.
  • Original Poll - 82%
  • Second Poll - 97.5%
Reasons for trying different brands of watercolour paint

There is one reason which people repeat again and again for sticking with one particular brand of watercolour paint.  Artists - both professional and amateur - like to be very sure of a consistent and excellent quality over time. 

Limitations as to availability are no longer an obstacle to trying a new paint since art supplies went online.  However there is still a tendency to go with brands you know you can get a from a local supplier.

The reasons people have given me for trying different brands of watercolour paint are as follows:
  • trying different (new) colours
  • having different 'favourite' brands for different colours (or subjects)
  • finding colours which mix well with other colours
  • trying a brand they hadn't heard of if they knew others favoured it.
Hopefully this poll and the new website will allow people to identify those brands which are favoured by others.  

In relation to geographical bias, I'd expect quite a few European painters might want to explore Daniel Smith and the M. Graham paints and maybe American painters might like to explore the new Sennelier watercolours?


I suggest that the lessons to take away from this poll are as follows
  • Artists like to try different brands of watercolour paint
  • The three brands which attract the most support are:
    • Winsor & Newton (global)
    • Daniel Smith (in the USA?)
    • Schminke (in Europe?)
  • A smaller group of watercolour paints have significant numbers of fans - and these may well be worth trying
In addition, if you examine the colours produced by the different brands - as I have been doing for the new website, there are some very clear indications of which brands perform better in relation to different subject matter.  See the analysis of the colours of the different brands on Which is the best brand of watercolour paint for artists?  I'm still completing this exercise - but it's very apparent already that the different brands have completely different colour ranges.

Another Poll

I'm thinking of running the same poll for oil paints.  Tell me if you think that's a good idea or not.


  1. First, your'e "Who painted this?" are proving to be tougher than I thought, providing no 'cheating' method is used.

    From you...
    " I do hope that enthusiasm for the brand wasn't generating repeat votes from the same people......."
    On this post subject it seems the screwy poll problems had some impact on the results although I don't think you can vote on the same exact poll twice, a different 'same' poll on another site you can.

    Certainly true I (we) prefer certain brands for certain colors but another factor that may not have been revealed in the results is... part of the reason I try another brand sometimes is a practical one.
    Sometimes the art store is out of a color I use in my usual brand and if I need it now (can't wait for an online order to be shipped) I will buy another brand.
    A slightly different reason than trying it for experimental purposes.

    It would not surprise me at all to hear that artists in certain countries might favor brands over others. That may be due to marketing, the company's home country (smaller companies not reaching out globally) etc.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I had a comment from an anonymous person who said the sample size was too small.

    I never post comments by anonymous people - however the comment is worth repeating. The reality is that the sample size is as big as it can be at the time it was posted. What's interesting however is when you do the same poll on different sites and get the same result.....

  4. Lol! I'm not an anonymous person. I think I used my google ID to leave a comment. I guess that my Chinese User Name might be the problem. However, I appreciate you did this amazing job!

  5. Correct - I don't read Chinese! :)

    You posted from a Blogger Profile not a Google account. However the lack of information re where you can be found online also means I'm reluctant to post comments.


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