I'm a big fan of Steve Mitchell's Youtube channel The Mind of Watercolour. When he posted this video concerning his preferences choosing watercolour paint, I was very curious. This top choice was M. Graham from which the proposed eight different colours to set up this basic palette.
As I didn't know anything about this brand, I went to look for them. It was quite difficult to find them, none of the big French shops online commercialise them. I found a reseller in the UK and in Denmark.
If you also are interested in having a look at Steve Mitchell's video here's the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obiKf0QGfjo
So let's see what M. Graham says about this watercolour paint ;
M. Graham watercolours are created with exceptional amounts of pigment in time-honored binding media of few gun around the and natural blackberry honey.
As an essential ingredient in a binding media, honey contributes from moistness for smooth, easily cultural applications, increased pigment concentrations, and freedom from over reliance on preservatives. Because of honey medium, watercolour resist hardening on the palette, or in the tube. It dilutes easily, often after months of disuse.
Richer, more vibrant colour
In order to make sure you beautiful Colorado you must below as much pigment as possible into the paint paste. More pigment makes the colour more brilliant. More vibrant. It provides a fatality that can't be achieved by manufacturers get by with less.
We are constantly evaluating ourselves against the competition to see who has greater tinting strength and pigment loads. For this test, we mix a tablespoon of white, and half teaspoon of colour. We make what we call draw downs, and we always put our colour on the left, and the competitor’s color on the right.
What we find time and again is that no other paint offers the same level of pigment as ours. But don’t take our word for it- See the difference for yourself!
Visit M. Graham site to check these swatches http://mgraham.com/about/compare/
M. Graham’s History of Colourmaking
M. Graham was founded 22 years ago by a couple of artists who shared a passion for quality artist supplies. Since then, the M. Graham family has remained dedicated to providing the finest colour available by milling our paint in small batches. We care about making paint this way, because it gives us the chance to devote attention to every part of the process. That’s why we can personally ensure the reliability and consistency of every paint that leaves our hands.
The M. Graham paints I tested
Azo Yellow PY151
Indian Yellow PY150
Azo Green PY129
Pyrrol Red PR254
Quinacridone Red PR209
Quinacridone Rust PO48
Quinacridone Violet PV19
Anthraquinone Blue PB60
Ultramarine Blue PB29
Prussian Blue PB27
Transparent Red Oxyde PR101
Sepia PBr7 - PBk6
Payne’s Grey PB29 - PBk9
M. Graham is a direct competitor to Daniel Smith but without the main role pigments and the iridescent hues. M. Graham producers of watercolour paint that isn’t much different as the classic European paints made by Winsor & Newton, Schminke ou Sennelier, and even the more recent manufacturers as Daniel Smith, QOR, Blockx or Isaro. The formulations have the same pigments as do those of their competitors.
I have the notice that there is very little difference in the charge of pigments in these pains. M. Graham pretend that these veins or more vibrant and illuminant than those of its competitors, but on my colour wheels I notice that Sennelier watercolour paints are just a little more natural and is a aggressive. M. Graham has more tainting power than QOR !!! But M. Graham looses compared to Isaro.
I do propose to you the make your proper opinion, have a look at my scanned colour wheels (all scanned with the same settings)
What i learned by practice :
The paint dilutes very well in or very creamy. After drying in the palette, paint waters down down without any problem, just after spraying a little bit of what in the palette. The paint is very fluid and it does reacts very fine with poring technique and for flat washes it does flow easily.
Glazing is very easy and with good results as this palette isn’t composed with opaque colours.
M. Graham paints are very vibrant but les than Isaro and Blockx.
Lifting isn’t as easy as with some other brands. Maybe it’s due to the paper i use (Fabriano Aquarello 300g sans acide grain fin)
I’ve to trust M. Graham’s indication about lightfastness as i didn’t find other review than on handprint.com, who declares ; “In my own tests, I found that Art Spectrum, Daniel Smith, DaVinci, Maimeri, M. Graham, Utrecht and Winsor & Newton choose quality pigments and publish accurate lightfastness information about them — the paints performed as promised in my own tests (both in 1998 and 2004), and they get good ratings in all the evaluations I have discovered. I feel these brands can be used with relative confidence.
I will do my own tests later and will update this article when it’s done.
Otherwise we obtain quite nice neutrals with this set as we use both Sépia and Payne’s gray to neutralise some hues.
To have a 6 colour palette (2 Yellows, 2 blues and 2 reds for each colour i picked one warm and one cool one), i chose Azo Yellow (Cool Yellow), Indian Yellow (Wartm Yellow), Pyrrol Red (warm red) Quinacridone Red (cool red) Ultramarine blue (Warm Blue) and Phtalo Blue Green Shade (cool blue).
• Vibrant and very pigmented watercolours
• Very nice dispersion
• Rehydrate easilly
• Limited hues compared to the competitors
• Manufacturers isn’t established very long compared to others
• Difficulties to buy then out of the United States (Same as the Da Vinci paints)
• The price in Europe. In the U.K. a 15ml costs between 9,25 et 11,75 £ soit entre 11 et 14 €. Nearly as expensive as Winsor & Newton (9,95 à 14,95 €)but you often get 25% off on special occasions, Daniel Smith (11,95 à 22,50 €) et nearly the same price for Sennelier (has only 10 or 21 ml tubes and pans), but more expensive than Isaro (tubes de 7 et 20 ml de 3,95 à 7,40 € et de 10 à 14 €)
• Only sold in tubes, no pans (no problem for me but there are artists that prefers them)
For which kind of artists these M. Graham paints ?
These paints are of extra fine quality and definitely of great Artist quality. They are very pigmented although other brands are equal even higher saturated. These paints are for Artists who like saturated colours but staying transparent. I think less for very detailed washed down watercolour art and you have to be beware of the fact that they lift less than the most brands i tested. (Dry paint lifting).
I didn’t find that M. Graham flows better than other honey based paints. The hues are typical american (saturation and hue), but less than Daniel Smith and QOr. M. Graham is the american Sennelier compared to his US competitors. The M. Graham paints do dry quite well in a palette and don’t need extra rubbing or water to reveal his quality, the same as most european extra-fine watercolours, but there is one brand that gets shinny and is the most easy to rewet and it isn’t M. Graham but Blockx. Isaro is the second most easy to rewet paint i found.
M. Graham offers 68 colours (if i counted right) and 2 whites. This is less than 96 senneliers, 144 Schminckes and more than 240 Daniel Smiths. Just a couple more than Isaro but less than Blockx.
Are the M. Grahams more pigmented than other colours ? I found out that Isaro and Blockx are even more charged in pigments, but i find that QOR is less charged. Daniel Smith has the same load from my experiences. I noticed that they aren(t as subtile and creamy as the Sennelier tubes, but they have stronger colour.
Should you buy them ?
Yes and or no
No for European Artists because it’s hard to find these M. Graham watercolour paints. Beside M. Lawrence in the U.K ( http://www.lawrence.co.uk/shop/M_Graham-watercolours.html#.WTgeEsaQ0UE). noby else sells them online in Europe besides Amazon on an occasional base. Continental Europeans will do better to buy directly from Isaro http://www.isaro.be/shop/ they are the best buy for the money or Blockx (quite pricy) http://www.blockx.be/en/catalogue/Watercolors_blockx_4_0.html
Real challenger in the United States for Daniel Smith, Da Vinci etc… i think it will be difficult for M. Graham to commercialise their paints widely in Europe.
Next up will be Sennelier from which i have all the colour in tubes (Got the anniversary box with 100 tubes), but i got a big problem, pooring out tubes in my pallete, they didn’t dry quickly and i closed my palette for an out door session when i arrived i found out that some paints had run and mixed so i had to start over again.
So keep this tip, don’t close your palette if the paint is fresh and not yet hard …